Tour buses arrive between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm. Usually there is two hours of no tour bus times when a site opens that you have with very few people. It is also the coolest time of the day. This may mean that you rent a car, book a private tour, hitchhike, stay over in the closest town or rent a taxi for the day. These first two hours are always the best time. You can be alone at these amazing places. We saw Chichen Itza mid day in October. It was hot and there were so many people. The first hour is cooler and no tour buses in the parking lot.
We are walking around the base of the Acropolis. We are higher than much of the city as the road ascends as it goes west. We see a park below with ancient buildings. We find the entrance. The line at 11:00 am is nuts. Rule # 4 Get to your destination early. Specifically, arrive when it opens. I don’t want to fight the crowds up the steps and around the top. We will visit this tomorrow. We want to visit the two hills close by.
We arrive to the Acropolis gated entrance before 8:00 a.m. and are second in line. We purchase tickets and climb the stone path. The theater is off side of the hill. We view it from above the seats, looking down onto the semi-circle checkerboard stage. It is impressive and closed off. The workers are not looking to open soon and wave us off. The seats have been fully restored and it is still in use. The front facade looks original with arched doorways and windows of stone blocks.
We continue climbing up. Stone steps mix with the path as we near to top. We reach the steps to the Propylaea and walk through this columned entrance of the Acropolis. The Temple of Athena Nike is a square building next to the entrance. We see the Parthenon as we pass through the columns. It is impressive and larger than I thought it would be. There is a white crane in front that blends with the white and tan stone colors. The scaffolding across the front does not blend as well. We see blocks, columns and pieces of the building spread across the ground for the restoration in progress. We see damage on the right side. Columns are incomplete and the entablature and pediment are missing. That means the top parts that the columns support. Yes I looked that up. We can not enter the building which is disappointing and at the same time appreciated. I appreciate that there are not people walking on and slowly ruining (irony!) the buildings.
The Parthenon is impressive. There is a LARGE crane in the middle of the building to help with the restoration. It lifts the massive stones into place. On one hand it takes away from the spectacle and on the other hand it lent to it. It is a dichotomy to see a 2500 year old building with this massive modern crane inside it.
The Acropolis has great views of the city. An hour after we enter a tour group arrives. Even with the 50 additional people it is easy to get pictures with a little patience.
The next building we come to is the Erechtheion or Erqchtheion. It is a temple on the north side of the Acropolis. The Athena shaped columns support a roof on one side. The other three sides have large columns. The rooms beyond the columns are visible but cannot be entered. The is a temple dedicated to Athena and Poseidon.
We walk the fourth side of the Parthenon. It has been restored and the columns are multi colored tan and white with the roof line intact. I am glad we arrived early.
I heard about San Marcos Square but did not expect it to be so incredible. The buildings and churches, the marble columns, statues, and the tower are amazing. There are lots of tourists and water on the square. The standing water is not unusual although I think this is rain and not sea water.
We take the water bus us up the Grand Canal to San Marcos Square. The views are fantastic. The architecture of the buildings, the old and new are amazing. The gondolas, churches, boats entering and exiting on canals are great. Yesterday the Square had tons of tourists. This morning we arrive to only a few. Rule # 4 Get to your destination early is worth another mention. The paintings on the archways are fantastic. The marble intrigues me with so many colors in the columns. Saint Mark's Basilica is outstanding with marble columns, a central gray dome, mosaics with gold inlay under round arches. Two more domes are to the side and back from the main. Eight spires top building corners with standing figures in each.
Six gold winged angels accompany a central haloed statue on the central arch over a golden winged lion. The opulent Church was a symbol of Venetian wealth and power. The 323 foot Cathedral tower is seen from the water. A pyramidal spire tops the five bell belfry with a golden angel at the top.
We walk from on end of the island to the other. Mostly we just follow the flow of people. Occasionally we we walk off in another direction that looks cool. We ask for directions a few times and find our way. We can’t really get lost in Venice. Eventually you hit water. You turn around or you swim. We turn around. Moss was growing 12 inches up the sides of the buildings. You can tell that “flooding” occurs. The stories about high tides covering areas of Venice are true. It explains the foot high metal stands and wood planks to walk on near the water bus stations. Two days is not long enough.