Yassas…”wishing I was still in Athens” is about accurate for today’s sentiment. That place both excited and soothed me. The endless city streets, calm breeze, sun-drenched days, abundant history, and the warmth of the people made for a perfect mix. I got to relish in it, while, unfortunately, Ger was working his bum off all day, everyday (my time will come soon). He got to experience bits and pieces, but, we already agreed to go back and soak up more of what that Greece has to offer. The locals told us to come back in late September, early October or the same time next year – late April, to get the best of both worlds; low prices, and perfect temps, so that’s what we’ll do.
Sunday, the day we arrived, I’ll start there. We checked into the Divani Caravel (one of those huge, old-school luxurious hotels with prices that replicate the sentiment) and headed straight to the sites. Our first stop was The Temple of the Olympian Zeus. Wow – you read about this in mythology books, but to be in the presence of something that was constructed in 4 BC…that’s something else.
From there, we headed to the Acropolis. Fun fact; there are Acropolis’ all over Greece – it simply means the highest point in the city. On the way up, we stopped to marvel at Dionysus Theater – they still hold concerts and plays at this ancient theater – seats 6000. Gross fact; the theater was recently cleaned for the first time and ended up with six tons of chewing gum to dispose of as a result. It sure is beautiful now though 😉The Propylea is what remains of the entrance to the Athens Acropolis. It provides a nice place to rest after the hill climb and a stunning entry to the magic that lies within.About that. I don’t know if seeing the Parthenon and the Temple of Nike Athena (the goddess of wisdom, craft, and war) is on your bucket list, but, it was on mine. Seeing them in all their ancient grandeur was simply magic. And, to experience that with Ger made it all the more special.To finish the day we headed for an early Greek dinner (4 AM wake up calls will do that to a person) and I had my first official Greek salad in Greece! Y’all, authentic Greek salads are my new favorite thing (p.s. there is no lettuce involved contrary to most US-based Greek salads). Post dinner, we watched the sunset and called it a night.Day two – five I was adventuring solo while Ger worked. These solo days made for some great memories and definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone. I like to think I’m brave, but, traveling in a foreign country, alone, will make you question that sometimes. Anyways, day two, I was off to the ancient city of Corinth which was magic, I’m going to post about it separately.
Day three, I headed out for a walking tour of the hills of Plaka (a neighborhood in Athens). The group started with a walk thru Syntagma Square and marveled at the Greek Parliament building and the Greek guards (the shoes though!).We then stopped in the Zappeion to catch a glimpse of a fashion show that was being setup and check out the room that was used by the press for the 2004 Olympic Games.Wandering thru the National Botanical Gardens was next on the list. What a beautiful recluse from the city. We walked along ancient ruins nestled in the gardens (they seem to be everywhere in Athens) and fed the baby turtles before heading to the hills of Plaka.
The hills of Plaka were filled with winding pathways, beautiful old churches, picturesque Greek homes, unique graffiti art, and stunning views. I couldn’t get enough! You could lost in those hills and wouldn’t mind a bit 🙂
We finished our hill walk at one of the best viewpoints in the city – Mars Hill. Here we got to take in the views of the Acropolis of Athens while we had a glass of local white wine and cheese and spinach pies. Our small group of four exchanged stories about life, love, family, and travel. Get this, two people in our group were from Dallas, Texas (where my family lives) and one of them was named Chelsea (my sister’s name), the world really does get smaller and smaller the more you travel! I really enjoyed our “afternoon siesta” of sorts.Hidden Athens Walking Tour via Viator
Post “siesta”, I headed back to the hotel for some rooftop sunning before dinner. And, oh, what a dinner we had. We ordered the equivalent of a Greek sampler platter: an appetizer that I will never forget. It was a plate full of Greek meatballs, fried Edam cheese balls, ham and cheese croquettes, tomato pepper pies, kefta (zucchini pies), and olive tapenade for bread (on the side)! So. Much. Goodness. And, to boot, we got a yummy dessert plate “on the house”. Apparently, they do this at almost all restaurants in Athens, a nice touch if I say so myself!
Day four brought shopping for some souvenirs in the morning before catching a hop-on, hop-off bus tour I took all the way to the “Athens Riviera”. I made a great day of it! Stop one was a hidden gem: Lake Vouliagmeni. The little fishes provided a free pedicure, the thermal-heated water some relaxation and healing (I think I needed to swim in there for a good week for all the healing my joints need), and the sun, a much-needed dose of Vitamin D.
From there, I found a hidden cove with a small pebble beach where I spent a good hour or so sunning. Then, I walked around and soaked up the views of the sea before I hopped on the bus back to the city center. That night, we had drinks and dinner with the locals in Piraeus Harbour. We were introduced to ouzo (Greek liqueur) and numerous authentic Greek dishes (a family style dinner). We also gained some cultural insights (they don’t break dishes at Greek weddings anymore) and traded stories well into the night – it was fabulous.Day five was the last full day in Greece; I headed to Cape Sounion. I’ll write about that separately, as a visit to the Temple of Poseidon is worthy of its own blog post.