The combined ticket for the Acropolis includes free admission to several other historic sites. Most don’t take as long to see as the Acropolis or Agora but they are still very impressive. One of these is the Temple of Olympian Zeus.
We tend to be home and in bed before it gets late when we travel, but the sun sets early in January. Athens feels very dark at night, with fewer functional streetlights than most cities. But no expense is spared when lighting the historic monuments.
The Acropolis is the most famous symbol of Athens. Lonely Planet modestly describes it as “the most important ancient site in the Western world”. The cluster of marble structures loom over the city on a jagged, rocky outcrop. We got used to seeing the Acropolis from afar for several days before finally making the climb to see it up close.
Just off Monastiraki Square is the Athens Flea Market, a warren of small streets filled with vendors selling antiques, used clothing, and countless other things of dubious necessity. The heart of this area is the smaller Avissinias Square.
Northwest of the Acropolis in Athens is the Ancient Agora, a sprawling area where much of public life took place in ancient Athens. Buildings here were used for city administration, courts, and markets. This was the center of Athens where people gathered.
Our third and final day trip from Amsterdam was to the city of Utrecht. Neither of us had any preconceptions about Utrecht and it ended up being a wonderful surprise only 20 minutes away. Utrecht is home to over a million people, but the beautiful historic center feels more like a small town than a city.
Following a friendly tip for places to visit in Amsterdam away from the tourist core we found ourselves in Amsterdam Noord, heading to a small pizza place called the Kebec Micro Bakery in a former warehouse canteen near the NDSM Wharf.
Delft is home to two major churches commonly referred to as the Oude Kerk (Old Church ) and the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church). From our perspective they are both quite old, however, with the old church built between 1246 and 1350 and the new church built between 1396 and 1496.
We visited the city of Haarlem, a former port town with a pleasant medieval character, beautiful canals, and a fully-restored traditional windmill. Haarlem is located about 20 minutes from central Amsterdam by train.
We visited the former home and studio of the painter Rembrandt, located in the Nieuwmarkt district of Amsterdam. Rembrandt lived and worked in the home between 1639 and 1658. The house remains intact and has been refurnished with period furniture using a detailed inventory from the time.