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Trip Report Some tips for others planning to visit the Acropolis Museum in Athens

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Perhaps some of these has been said before, but in case people are searching the Greece board for information on these, here is my take:

1) This new museum is one of the great cultural highlights of any European tour. The artifacts within are beautifully displayed and extraordinarily exciting to see. I saw dozens and dozens of ordinary tourists, from all different countries, fascinated by the labels and displays (everything has an English-langage label) and engaging in animated conversation with their travel partners about the stunning statues, architectectural fragments and mythological themes. Budget time to really learn from this museum. If you have already been to Athens and were thrilled, consider going back just to see this extraordinary place.

2) I wanted to buy a guidebook to the museum at the museum, and I was surprised to discover how really skimpy the bookstores inside the museum are and how inadequate the guidebook sold by the museum is. If your overall guidebook for Athens does not include a good guide to the museum, try to find one before you go.

3) By sheer happenstance, I ended up starting at the TOP FLOOR of the museum, and working my way down, and I am really glad I did. The top floor is the stunning Parthenon gallery, with a full-on view of the Acropolis out the window, and it is the crown jewel of the museum, and the entire reason the museum exists where it does. If you start on the ground floor, you will start with a detailed collection of shards and fragments arranged in chronological order, and a lot of archeological history, tracing the evolution of the Parthenon over time, and then you work your way up. But I noticed many people were too tired to really enjoy the third floor by the time they reached, having passed through many other galleries, and some probably gave in short shrift in favor of the cafeteria on the way up. So personally I recommend you read up on the Acropolis and the Parthenon before leaving home, and then head straight to the top floor for the start of your museum visit. If you give it a try and feel you don't like that approach, it is a simple enough matter to take the elevator down to the first floor and start anew. But if you start to feel tired, head to the top floor. Don't leave the museum without giving a thorough exploration.

4) The Archaic Gallery on the second floor is now one of the most beautiful sculpture galleries in Europe, to my eye now surpassing the interior courtyard of Louvre. It is on the second level, and also give yourself plenty of leisure to see it. Make sure you pass through it as well as the Parthenon Gallery if you see nothing else in the museum.

5) The first floor of the museum the day I was there was FRIGID with air conditioning, especially if you are dressed for walking about in the hot Athenian sun. I saw more than one woman in a thin top put on a wrap or overshirt. I highly recommend toting a wrap or shirt if you are woman. Men will probably be okay in a tee or ordinary shirt. Things warm up as you get to the windowed parts of the upper floors of the museum.

6) I had a very good meal at the terrace restaurant (baked eggplant with tomatoes, a delicious puree of beans from Santorini with lemon and caper leaves). It is probably a few euros more expensive than a souvlaki from a street vendor, but it is very nice and very convenient, and compared to other European destinations, food is Greece is always a terrific bargain.

7) I had an excellent stay at the Athens Gate, just a stone's throw from the museum and with a rooftop bar with beautiful views of the Acropolis and the Temple of the Olympian Zeus. I speak no Greek, and the staff was fluent in English and very charming and helpful.

PS: Perhaps the biggest issue people will need to decide is whether they want to visit the museum before or after they see the Acropolis, and whether they want to combine both on the same day. I can't really advise as to the first, because I had already been to the Acropolis several times before the new museum was built., and I only went to the museum during this trip. Because Athens can be so hot, I think most people will want to see the Acropolis in the morning or very late afternoon. If you go the Acropolis in the morning, I highly recommend you do the museum on a different day so as not to find yourself experience fatigue and overload. For real lovers of Greek culture, you honestly wouldn't be overdoing it to visit the museum, visit the Acropolis and revisit the museum if you have a couple of days in Athens.

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