Ok, as promised, I’m finally getting around to the Athens part of our Greece trip. After 3 nights on the island of Santorini, we took a 25 minute flight to Athens where we spent the next 4 nights. Since we were there for a conference, we had to stay at the conference hotel, the Metropolitan, which was a short drive outside of city central. Luckily, the hotel offered a free shuttle to Syntagma Square every half hour, and once there, everything we wanted to see was within walking distance.
The first night was spent exploring Syntagma Square and Parliament, then walking down Ermou Street. Ermou Street is a pedestrian walking area between Syntagma and Monastiraki Squares. It is full of shops, restaurants, and a cute little 10th century church sits right in the middle of it all. It was an enjoyable introduction to Athens, however, we immediately noticed the gobs of graffiti all over the place. Here is a picture just to give you a little taste:
The next day, I slept in while Alex attended his conference. When he was finished we took off for some more exploring. We walked through the National Gardens, then admired the Presidential House and the orange trees lining the street in front of it. We then headed over to Panathenian Stadium, built around 330 BC. We got to peak at the Temple of Olympian Zeus, but the area was already closed for the day by the time we got over there. After walking around Zappeion Hall for a while, then re-energizing ourselves with a cold beverage at a nearby cafe, we decided to find the Teleferik that would take us to the top of Lycabettus Hill, the highest hill in Athens. We read that Lycabettus Hill was a very popular place to go and that most people chose to ride the Teleferik rather than hiking up the hill, so we assumed it would be easy to find. After walking around for what seemed like an eternity, we weren’t having any luck finding it. We even asked a couple of people where it was. One lady had no clue what we were talking about, but she asked a clerk at a nearby store who gave us directions somewhere, but not to the Teleferik. We then asked a security guard who also gave us incorrect directions up a lot of very steep steps. We didn’t find what we were looking for but we did manage to take this picture showing how far up the hill we had already walked:
Just when we were about to give up, we came across a very fancy hotel. Alex decided to go in and ask the concierge in a final attempt to locate what we were starting to believe was a fictitious place. We followed her directions, and sure enough, we found it. It did exist! We rode it up to the top of the hill and the views were amazing. Completely worth all the trouble. Here’s a picture of Alex at the top. This give you an idea of how expansive the city is:
The next morning, we took the hotel shuttle bus to Syntagma Square yet again, then headed to the Acropolis. This was the first place where we were completely surrounded by tourists and even had to stand in line (to be expected, I guess). Here is a picture of the Odeon of Herodes Atticus:
And here’s a picture of me with the Parthenon in the background:
After the Acropolis, we ate some lunch, then headed to the Acropolis Museum. Each level of the museum is impressive, but the top floor was probably my favorite. On the top floor, they have friezes and other parts of the Parthenon arranged exactly as they once appeared on the original temple, which can be viewed simultaneously through the floor-to-ceiling glass windows.
That night, Alex and I decided to go out for a nice dinner. We headed to Daphne’s, a delicious restaurant in the Plaka that is housed in an 1830s mansion. After dinner, we found an outdoor theater, Cine Paris, just a few blocks away and at the foot of the Acropolis. We bought our tickets, then headed to the roof where we watched Snow White and the Huntsman (in English with Greek subtitles) while enjoying a glass of wine and sitting under the stars. As if that wasn’t awesome enough, while watching the movie we could look slightly to the left of the screen and see the Acropolis completely lit up. This was probably my favorite night of the trip.
The next morning, and our last full day of the trip, we decided we had had enough of walking around in the heat and just wanted to take it easy. We hopped on a hydrofoil to the closest island, Aegina. We spent the day lounging on the beach and taking in the beautiful surroundings. Unfortunately, the batteries in my camera died after taking just 1 picture, and I didn’t have any spare batteries on me. So this is the only picture I was able to take while we were there:
On the last day of the trip, our flight didn’t leave until about 5:00 pm, so we decided to head to Syntagma Square just one more time, then make our way over to the Central Market. This place was crazy!! There were so many locals, pushing their way through the crowds to find the perfect sheep head, calf carcass, live chicken, fresh fish, you name it. I wasn’t able to take any pictures (besides that I had yet to replace the batteries in my camera) because there was so much chaos, and we were being pushed and yelled at from every direction. But the amount and variety of fresh food that was available was astonishing. Definitely a cool thing to see!
Finally it was time to catch our flight to London where we had an overnight layover. Then we boarded our last flight of the trip and headed back to Texas to see the boys whom we missed terribly.
Overall, it was an amazing trip. I’m so thankful we had the opportunity to do this, and just one month after our 5-year anniversary even. Not too shabby!