Flying into Athens for the first time felt a bit weird because the landscape was so much like that of Townsville: the bright sky, the nearly-bare hills and the parched vegetation we could see from the plane created a near-deja-vu experience: “We flew all this way and nothing has changed?” (The airport itself didn’t do much to alleviate that, either, since it was much more like ours than Dubai’s or Singapore’s.)
A tourist-bus ride around the city and down to the port of Piraeus showed us that the city is indeed different but that its setting is rather similar. The hills beyond Piraeus could almost be the hills beyond Ross Dam, were it not for the encroaching suburbs.
Athens even has its own Castle Hill, rising from the centre of the old city and providing wonderful views; it’s not as big as our Castle Hill but is a little better known. The locals call it “The Acropolis”.
One of the things we only really learn by visiting a place is how big it is: walking around a building or a city gives us a far better sense of it than looking at photos.
The Acropolis Hill is big enough to dominate the skyline anywhere in the central city but small enough that an energetic tourist can walk right around its base, stopping to look at all sorts of ruins and museums, in a day – and we did just that, simply by rambling at will until it became clear from our map that it was easier to keep going than to back-track.
Part of our walk, up to a lookout on the top of Areopagus Hill, turned out to be a route popular with locals. We continued down and around the Southern side of the Acropolis Hill, past the Roman theatre to the new Acropolis Museum a short distance away from the hill, back towards the hill to see the (classical Greek) Theatre of Dionysus (see Wikipedia), and finally around the Eastern end of the hill and back into Monastiraki for dinner. This map shows the territory and this page in my “Gallery Crawl” section presents more about the Acropolis itself.