Sunday, October 05, 2008

Lycabettus Mount in Athens

A great place to experience Athens on panorama is from the Lycabettus Mount. It is the highest point in the city. The views are spectacular, priceless I should say, and much, much better than from the Acropolis. Lycabettus Mount means the mountain of wolves.

Speaking of wolves, its tamer cousin, the dog, are quite a sight in Athens. There are many stray dogs in the city, it is unbelievable. Some have the scary habits of chasing cars in the frenzied traffic.

I met up with a good friend, Herr Philippe who happen to be in Athens with Stan. We took a cab to the Teleferique (funicular, climbing tram) that goes to the top of this limestone hill. Another way of reaching the top is by hiking, but I believe that’s only for the good faithful pilgrims. Well we simply cannot be bothered when the sun is scorching heat at 35C. So the funicular is it. It goes every half an hour. Perfect.

The view of white Athens on top of the Lycabettus Mount. Magnifico!

Moi with Herr Philippe and Stan.

We arrived and on the top of the Lycabettus Mount stands the Agios Georgios Chapel (St. George Chapel). There was a posh terrace restaurant and a theater. I haven’t eaten in the restaurant so I can’t really judge if they had great or mediocre food. However, the views are excellent. Grand. Beautiful. Just wow! I already had my fill just by standing there.

According to legend, the mountain was supposed to be part of the building of the Acropolis but the goddess Athena dropped the piece of lime rock and did not bother to pick it up as she had enough to build the Acropolis.

The Agios Georgios Chapel is worth a visit as well. The ceiling is exceptionally impressive. A fresco depicting some important religious events and the striking sea blue background made it very unique. Most frescoes are done traditionally with somber and dark colors but this one is a different portrayal, a wonderful exception.

While savouring the spectacular views, it is quite interesting to notice that Athens looked so pretty from the top. The rows of white buildings reminds me of the pristine white village in the islands. The panorama is incredible, it is worth the effort to go up here. But truth be told, Athens down there is chaotic and dirty. I cannot say that Athens is my favourite city. Many buildings in the city centre are outdated and crumbling. It is dirty, rundown in some areas and a number of ancient structures are even left out to rot on its own. Pretty sad.

On the contrary, Athens somehow exudes a charm because of this. I did however had a skin break out because of pollution. How bad can that be? Well, being up here in Lycabettus Mount was a breath of fresh air. You know we are above the smog, lol.

It would be nice to have dinner in the restaurant but I had to go meet up with another friend (the Shah) so time to take the funicular back down.

Travel Period: September 2008

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