Cycling to Athens
I came cycling to Athens from Corinth. It wasn't the best ride I ever did. The road was busy and unpleasant. But outside the city center, I found a camping which was a good base to explore Athens.
My exploration started with a visit to the Acropolis. No visit to Greece can do without it. But I didn't like the city itself, a big busy and stinky city with little atmosphere, or that is at least what I saw. But I admit, I do not like cities much.
Athens is an old city, a very old city with a recorded history of about 3400 years. In the days of Antiquity, Athens was one of the most powerful city states.
It was a center of learning, of arts, where philosophy was at it's early stages and would reach enormous heights with Plato, Aristotle, Socrates and many more. Plato's Academy and Aristotle's Lyceum were symbols of wisdom.
Athens is also widely seen as the birthplace of democracy. But today, there is not much of the grandeur of classical times left.
That said, Greater Athens is a massive city with a population over 3 million and the heart of the Greek economy.
But the heritage of Antiquity is still essential in the city. When I cycled through the city, everywhere you are reminded of the glorious past.
Street names, hotels, shops and restaurants are names after the great names and happenings in the past.
But it isn't only the Greek history that left trails, the Romans, Byzantines and even the Ottoman Empire left their trails.
The National Archaeological Museum has the world's largest collection of ancient Greek antiquities, as well as the new Acropolis Museum.
There are two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the city: the Acropolis and the medieval Daphni Monastery. Today's Athens was also host to the first modern Olympic Games in 1896.
There can be little discussion about the magnificence of the Acropolis. It's an ancient series of temples and buildings overlooking the city. The most famous is of course the Parthenon but there are more buildings to explore.
It's a huge complex, build on a flat rock towering 150 meters above the city. Apparently in the 6th or 7th century there were already buildings on the rock but a temple dedicated to Athena was erected around 570–550 BC. Around 500BC an older version of the Parthenon was build but this one was replaced some 50 years later.
In the next few centuries more temples were added. Much has been destroyed over the centuries but much is also still standing.
Needless to say Athens is connected by flight to any capital in Europe and many other places in the world. By ferry, for example you can reach all the main islands in the Greek Archipelago. The Piraeus harbour was in Antiquity an important harbor, and it still is. I cycled to Piraeus and took a ferry to Rhodes.
Corinth is a day cycling from the Greek capital. And should you desire to cycle north, there's good roads to Thessaloniki and further to the Turkish border.
I haven't checked the hotels in Athens because I stayed on a campsite just outside the city center. For exploring the city, I simply took a bus into town. Only a day later I cycled through the city on my way to Piraeus.
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Terrific day trip from Corinth. The amphitheater is one of the best preserved theatres of Antiquity.
The great lost city of Mycenae is worth the effort to go deep into the Peloponnesus.
The road to Olympia
North Peloponnesus is worth exploring. Of course Olympia, where the original Olympic Games were held is an obvious must visit sight but on the whole, I found Peloponnesus a very pleasant experience.
The old ruined city of Corinth is worth your attention. It's not because there is a lot of great buildings left but it's because there is a very long, 8000 years piece of human history left. And the remains are still impressive.
One of the spectacular sights of Northern Greece is Meteora, a series of cliffs on which monasteries are build. This is a wonderful place to visit.