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Greece, Athens – Conquering The Capital

Parthenon - Athens Greece

Parthenon – Athens Greece

Post By Vicky [with commentary in italics in brackets by Dave]

With only 2 days in Athens we knew we didn’t have time to wander around at a snail’s pace [is she calling me a snail?]. Skipping breakfast we set off to climb Filiapapos hill. We were hoping to find a mini market along the way, but no such luck. With D lagging behind [with all the gear] I climbed to the top [this wasn’t Everest and I was right there with her] – and there it was – the city of Athens and the Acropolis itself, right before our eyes. Yes, the view would have been more picturesque without all the construction/renovation cranes mounting the Parthenon, but what can you do?

View From Filopappos Hill - Athens Greece

View From Filopappos Hill – Athens Greece

There was a lot we could have seen at Filopappos Hill but with our fuel tanks dangerously close to empty we made our way down, actively searching for a mini market where we would get our fix [um, we weren’t looking for cocaine, just breakfast Vicky]. I must say there’s nothing like eating yogurt on a park bench without any utensils [except for with utensils], desperately trying to turn a chocolate chip cookie into a functionable scooper (which let’s face it, it’s not).

Refueled, we made our way to the Acropolis. Unfortunately the diligent lady at the ticket office didn’t accept D’s expired student id [first time I’ve been turned down, am I that old?] and therefore rejected mine as well (which has no expiration date at all) so we had to pay the full 12 euro fare – which does include 6 other historical sites scattered around the city as well. As we already figured out – most of the best sights in Greece required some climbing to get to, and up we went [here we ago]. What can I say about the Acropolis? Amazing, fascinating, breath taking? Unfortunately for D I didn’t bring a thesaurus along on the trip so these are the only 3 words I  could come up with to describe oh just about everything I saw [look for more colorful language in post 5]. Really though, these structures were built thousands of years ago and they’re still here, how can you not be fascinated?

Hadrian's Library - Athens Greece

Hadrian’s Library – Athens Greece

After the Acropolis we proceeded to the other sites included in our ticket: Roman Agora, Hadrian’s Library, Keramikos, and the Ancient Agora,(the Temple of Olympia Zeus we saved for the next day). If you have a lot of time in Athens don’t be pressured to do everything at once, the tickets are valid for 4 days (or is it 2?) and as I said earlier the sites aren’t exactly right next to each other.

After Hadrian’s Library we wandered into Monastiraki square which has various cafes, shops and the flea market of Athens. Following our Lonely Planet guide book we chose a casual souvlaki kebab place for lunch (Thanasis). Taking the food to go was cheaper than eating there so we ordered our double souvlaki kebab pitas (only 3.60 euro each) and found a shady spot in the square. It was delicious and I’ll take Greek street food over a pretentious fine dining restaurant any day.

souvlaki - Athens Greece

souvlaki – Athens Greece

Stuffed and happily on our way to Kerameikos we witnessed an interesting Greek interaction. A car accident. One guy hit his brakes suddenly, causing the other to bump into him. Exchange of insurance cards? I don’t think so. Instead, the guy who bumped into the other jumped out of his car started yelling and shoving the other guy and it looked like it might have gotten ugly if the brake slammer hadn’t been significantly smaller and lumpier. Thankfully the girlfriend stepped in to calm her road rage boyfriend and the 2 whizzed off. I didn’t check but I doubt any of them were wearing seat belts. [fact: Greece leads Europe in car accidents]

Although Athen’s gives off a slightly dumpy impression – there’s just too much graffiti everywhere – the historic sights themselves are definitely worth seeing. And the city itself does have its quaint little areas and various neighborhoods to wander around in.

After our day of charging around the city it was nice to get back to the hotel and lounge around for a while [nap time!]. Hotel Tony’s is great, conveniently located within walking distance to the sites, nice rooms, wi-fi with a computer in the lobby, a fridge, and a balcony. A few cons: the A/C you have to pay an extra 5 euros a day for, and the shower has no curtain and no hook to hold the shower head up, causing the bathroom floor to flood. This has never made any sense to me. Why put a drain in the bathroom floor when you can just hang up a shower curtain [men clearly designed this place]? Gets me every time. Oh and the hotel only takes cash. 

For our night time stroll around the city (did you really think 8 hours of sightseeing is all we could handle?) we walked through Plaka (the cutesy touristy area with various, shops, cafes bars [$$$]) to a live music restaurant (Stamatopoulos Tavern ) recommended to us by Lonely Planet. With the weather being so nice all the tables were on the outside terrace with a small stage up front for the musicians. 3 men, all playing guitar and singing traditional Greek songs – all the while taking requests from the audience. I must admit the performance got even better when a man from the table of 4 sitting by us got up, placed a glass on the ground and started to dance around it. We just sat there for hours, listening to the music, taking it all in, under the dark Athens sky [they played my favorite traditional Greek song…wish I could remember the name]. The food was great but it was the atmosphere that was truly unforgettable.

Zeus Temple - Athens Greece

Zeus Temple – Athens Greece


Post By Vicky [with commentary in italics in brackets by Dave]

Want to read more about our trip to Greece?
Day 1: Greece, Santorini – The Arrival and Finding Your Way
Day 2: Greece, Santorini – Volcano Tour and Hot Springs
Day 3: Greece, Santorini – Frolicking Through Fira
Day 4: Greece, Athens – Conquering The Capital
Day 5: Greece, Athens – More Monuments!
Day 6: Greece, Corinth – Making Our Way To Mycenae, Argos And Nafplio
Day 7: Greece, Sparta – This is Sparta! (And Mystras)
Day 8: Greece Kardamyli – First Diros Caves, Then Messene Ruins

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