I haven’t visited this ancient city for thirty-eight years, so couldn’t resist the opportunity to see if it had changed. Our original plans to catch the metro into the Plaka area were hurriedly altered when we felt the heat, and arranged for a local taxi driver to take us to the main sights and wait for us whilst we looked around. After all, only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun and even the dogs are sensible enough to take a nap in the shade.
The first stop was the Acropolis. When I originally visited it forty years ago we were able to clamber wherever we wanted, but now everything is roped off and scaffolded as part of the ongoing restoration work. It also seemed like much harder work to climb up to the top, but then our legs are forty years older now. Our allotted hour passed and we had to make our way down again into the deliciously air conditioned taxi. The driver showed us the Presidential palace with an Evzone guard on duty outside. He explained that the guards take it in turns to spend an hour at a time on duty. Anything longer would be impossible because of the heat and because they must stand perfectly still. I don’t think he even blinked while we were there.
After this the driver had to take a detour because of demonstrations that were taking place, causing road closures. We visited the remains of the Temple to Olympian Zeus and then he deposited us on Amalias Avenue for our stroll around the Plaka and the flea market. Everything’s changed a lot since I was last there and it seems even more touristy than it used to be. Anyway we fortified ourselves with a delicious Gyros with vegetables in bread and eventually managed to find our way back to the taxi, and then to the ship to cool off and relax.