For as long as Jeff could remember, he always wanted to see two places in the world: Rome and Athens. We made sure to see Rome for Easter, so now it was time to see Greece. We decided we would take a longer break this time spending an entire week away, but also, since we usually walk ourselves into submission on holiday, we built in some days where we did absolutely nothing.
We arrived in Athens late Thursday evening and made our way via metro to Syntagma since we were staying in the Plaka neighborhood. We stayed in the most amazing flat. From the view in the living room and kitchen, we could see the lit up Acropolis. It was incredible and we couldn’t believe how majestic it looked. But the rest of the flat was so romantic looking. It was a giant studio room with a dining table, bed, and leather couches with suede covers.
That night, we only had the where-with-all to find dinner and collapse, but the only place we could find for decent food was a place that looked like an American pub: Athens Beer. We had regular food that we’ve had a million times before, but vowed to find authentic Grecian food for the rest of the trip.
The next morning, we headed straight to the Acropolis. It was already really hot as it was almost 100 degrees already. The best
way to get to the front actually came the way of back alleys and neighborhood roads. We purchased the full pass that let us get into all of the ruins around. We hiked to the top with the sun beating down on us. There was plenty of marble for the stairs and pathways leading up to the Parthenon. Once we made it to the top, we were in awe. The ruins we were looking at were thousands of years old. These columns were still standing–for the most part. There were several instances of repair and restoration that was glaringly apparent with the different color of the stone. Also, the scaffolding continued to follow us around all of the ancient buildings.
After staring at the buildings and looking off into the distance of the dense city of Athens, we headed back down to continue our tour of some more of the ruins. We headed to the Ancient Agora next. There were several structures still standing and out in the open sun. We both were starting to get dehydrated despite our bringing a giant bottle of water and anxious under the sun.
Being in London for the last six months has gotten us used to cloud cover and 70 degrees. Our tolerance for heat has definitely diminished.
We decided to head to the Temple of Zeus before finding some food, which was completely worth it. The Temple for Zeus was actually pretty amazing. A handful of columns were still standing and one was left completely fallen. Standing in a certain way you could see the Acropolis perfectly through the marble columns.
We headed toward the Acropolis Museum which actually doesn’t have as much of the original ruins than The British Museum, ironically. But we walked through the beautiful space. You’re not allowed to take pictures, but I managed to sneak a few. There was a restaurant on the balcony where we had our dinner. We did not have the best meal there–so I would not recommend the food. I ordered the fish, but we weren’t told they had run out. They assumed we would be okay with the substitution which was grilled squid. Tasting like the bottom of my shoe, my sainted husband took it for the team and switched plates with me.
After dinner, it was just a hop, skip and a jaunt across the street to the Theatre of Dionysus. But we didn’t know it was so close, so we made it long way around back up the hill to the Acropolis and then back down the side of the mountain to find ourselves in the middle of the ancient audience.
The next morning, we decided to hop a train and head to the coast. Doing what the locals do, we hopped the tram and weaved our way through the city streets. We had lunch at the Edam Restaurant in Edam and watched naked children run around the pebble beach and play in the blue water. Again, the food was not great. We were still hoping to find authentic Grecian food, but it was still elusive.
We toured the entire marina before we decided to head back to Athens proper for more sight-seeing. We were to leave the next morning for Crete, and we wanted to soak in more of the sights since the ocean was on our books for the next four days. As we boarded the tram, it started to rain. We joked about how we wouldn’t need an umbrella, but we regretted that decision immediately, and not just for the rain, but also for the shine.
It stopped raining as we got off the tram and we decided to walk toward the St. George Church on top of a hill. Jeff was mesmerized by this structure he could barely make out from a distance and wanted to see what made that church so important to be on top of this hill higher than the Acropolis. Tempting fate, we headed up the hill despite the impending rain clouds. It was a decent hike up the side of this mountain where we met several stray cats which were throughout the city. It was nice to see so many furry friends, but they were extremely skittish.
As soon as we made it up to the top of the hill, we had just enough time to snap a few pictures before Zeus or St. George unleashed the rain. We headed under the roof of a cafe and waited it out. The view was incredible as we watched the rain float over the city and engulf the Acropolis.
That night, we managed to make it back to Plaka and find some cheap food. It turned out that the lamb souvlaki was the best food I had yet with all the traditional Greek flavors I had been expecting. It was on to Crete the next morning.