Temple of Artemis
Driving from the pier through the countryside along a hilly drive, you arrive at the House of Virgin Mary where the Blessed Virgin is reputed to have spent the last years of her life. The site was made famous by the travels of Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II. in November of 2006, Pope Benedictus the 16th paid an official visit to the House of the Virgin Mary. Outside is the Fountain of Our Lady, providing the faithful water from the holy foundation.From there, a short drive will take you to the entrance to the Ancient City of Ephesus, built on a small hill. Once you enter the Opearchen Air Archeological Museum of Ephesus and pass by the Magnesia gate, you will enter the administrative section of ancient Ephesus. The guided walking tour will take you through one of the most magnificent excavations in the world. See the Odeon, the Fountain of Trajan, the steam baths of Scholastika, the temple of Hadrian and the impressive library of Celsius. The Grand Theater, where St. Paul preached, is one of the largest theaters in antiquity with a capacity of 24,000 seats.You will also visit Terrace Houses of Ephesus inside the ancient site, which is considered as an exclusive museum in Ephesus, located on the slopes of Bulbul Mountain, opposite the Hadrian Temple. Also called as "the houses of rich", these houses belonged to the important and prominent people of Ephesus. The terrace houses contain great engraving, mosaics, sections, floors, representing the lifestyle of the rich Ephesians who used to live in these apartments. You will visit the inner sections of these houses in which excavations still continue. The most ancient of the houses were built in the first century BC, and most of the houses were restored in the second century AD. The houses seem plain from outside, but inside were constructed with the highest standards of their era. They are decorated with mosaics and frescoes, and have interior courtyards in the center, with the ceiling open. The houses also have cold and hot water usage to give you an idea about the quality of life in Ephesus. The visit to the Terrace Houses will give you a clear idea about the Ephesians and their way of life.At the Ephesus Archeological Museum, you'll be escorted through the 9 exhibits tracing the religious and chronological history of the ancient city. Filled with attractively displayed mosaics, statuary, and other artifacts, the museum exhibits several marble statues of the Mother Goddess Artemis, goddess of nature, childbirth, and the harvest. Combining the information at the Open Air Museum and the Archeology Museum will give you a very fulfilling idea of the city of Ephesus and its importance in the ancient times.Overlooking Ephesus is the remains of St. John's Basilica, a once great church built on a 2nd century tomb thought to hold the remains of St. John. While the church is now in ruins, there are frescoes, mosaics and graceful columns that attest to the glory that marked the place where St. John, the Evangelist, lived and died. The site requires stair climbing at the entrance and walking over uneven dirt, stones and gravel walkways. After your visit, you'll return to Kusadasi.Remarks*Walking at the House of Virgin Mary includes approximately 0.50 miles over mostly paved walkways with some inclines to/from the car parking area to the shrine. The car parking area is constructed of uneven gravel/dirt surfaces.*Visiting Ephesus includes walking approximately 1.5 miles over uneven and cobblestone surfaces, inclines and 100+ steps (mostly at the Terrace Houses). Comfortable walking shoes, comfortable clothing, a hat, sunscreen and insect repellent are recommended. Guests should watch their step at all times in order to avoid injuries.*Guests must be able to walk approximately 0.5 miles over uneven and cobblestone surfaces, inclines and 10-30 steps in The Basilica of St. John.*Temperatures can reach extreme highs during the summer months; we recommend that you drink a lot of water and use suitable sun protection.
I present the Parthenon! The most famous building in Greece. It's a shame that it had to be viewed with all of the scaffolding around but it's necessary for all the restoring they are doing. It took 9 years to build the Parthenon and they have been restoring it for 30 years and not even half way done. Most of those pillars were destroyed and they have been piecing them together one by one. Like the world's most annoying and torturous jigsaw puzzle in 3D.
Temple of the Olympian Zeus
Our last day in Athens we visited the Temple of Zeus. I don't know why we waited until the last day since it was right across the street from our hotel.This was the most massive building that we had seen yet. It originally had over 100 pillars but after much human destruction and earthquakes, only 15 or so remain.
The trip began with touchdown at Athens, and check-in at the Hilton which is very well located with a metro station close by. Step out of the hotel and the first thing you see at the crossing is the spectacular thirty feet high Runner Man glass sculpture. Syntagma Square one of the main squares of the city is at a walking distance from the hotel. The word Syntagma means Constitution and almost all major historical events have taken place at or around this square. You can see the Parliament building at the top of the square and at the bottom is Ermou Street which is closed to traffic since it is a shopper's delight! The ceremonial changing of the guards outside the Parliament building ( earlier the King's Palace) is a unique spectacle. The guards - Evzones- guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in addition to the Parliament.
Odeon of Herodes Atticus
We finally walked up to the Herodes Atticus Theater entrance which was built in 161 AD. Pretty new for Greek standards!!Had to walk across super slanted, rocky surface to get a good shot. E.W. did it first and made it look easy. Well it wasn't especially in my slippery boots. And it doesn't look like it but I was very very high up.
Theatre of Dionysus
Here is the Theatre of Dionysus which was one of the earliest theaters in the world where plays were performed in honor of the God Dionysus. It's not restored and not in use anymore but beautiful nonetheless. Just imagine all the ancient Greeks that have sat on those steps and now little ol me is standing on them. Crazy crazy.
We followed the recommendation of our bartender and hit up the hottest new nightclub in Athens called W. E.W. can talk his way into any club so before we knew it we were escorted to the VIP area without having to pay a cover charge.W was without a doubt my number 1 club experience EVER. Las Vegas, Amsterdam and New York don't even compare to Greek nightlife. I usually hate large nightclubs, but this place was stunningly lit and filled with beautiful people. The dance floor was madness and we didn't dare step onto it in fear of getting trampled. The music was a very light lyrical house type music which was so chill...like nothing I had ever experienced before....none of that BUMP BUMP BUMP jersey shore music crap that techno parties in US tend to play.They even had go-go dancers who were just ok. I took a pic with one but I looked so retard drunk that I dare not post it.
It was a beautiful day out so we took a hike up Filopappos Hill which was more like a mini mountain. At the base of the hill there was an old, charming house that had pretty flowers out on the porch. I snuck onto it to take a quick pic.The hill was no easy climb. It was pretty rough terrain and the pathways were steep and rocky. But I'm not a prissy girl so I let my sparkling white Pumas get dirty. Once again I was astonished at how Green Athens was. I have not added color to any of these photos! The grass really was THAT green. I even told E.W. that it was almost an unnatural shade of green...like something you would see in a cartoon.
Temple of Poseidon
A very scenic road trip to the Temple of Poseidon, the way to which we stopped a million times to take in the sheer beauty that Greece is! We even stopped in front of random Greek houses to click photos and also managed to convince Nandhini to get her ears pierced, which she did after a mini panic attack.
Don't miss Spetses if you are an old-world lover. This is one of those islands that still untouched by mass tourism, and that means this is one of those few places in the world where you still get to travel by horse drawn coaches and pass through magnificent villas hedged with bougainvilleas. And not to mention the peaceful, deserted beaches and cobbled streets.