Monday, 19 September 2011

Kalimera from Athens!

Well, we finally made it!  We landed in Athens yesterday afternoon around 4:40pm and were at our hotel before 6pm.  I bought our ferry tickets to Paros right at the airport, we hopped into a yellow taxi and the very nice driver got us to the Airotel Parthenon in record time.  He also took the time to explain what we were seeing on the way and Den was pretty excited to see that the site of the original Olympic games was very close to the hotel.  We made a note to include it in our sightseeing today.

After a very efficient check-in, we freshened up and made a beeline for the Acropolis Museum, which was just a few minutes from our hotel.  Since it's closed Mondays, this was our only chance to see it.  We spend about 45 minutes admiring the many pieces which have been excavated from the Acropolis but the long day of travel and the jetlag were catching up to us.  After going to the rooftop terrace to take a few pictures of the Acropolis across the street, we decided to head into the Plaka area and look for somewhere to have a light dinner.

We happened upon Diogenes restaurant after just a few minutes of walking and the leafy canopy and romantic atmosphere called out to us.  We enjoyed some hot and cold appetizers, including olives, tzakiti, tarama, eggplant dip, grilled octopus and vine leaves in a wonderful lemon sauce.  Den had some sangria and I had a couple of glasses of chilled white wine and we sat and enjoyed our good fortune at just being able to be in such a beautiful setting.

We strolled around the Plaka area for about an hour before our aging bodies told us that they had had just about enough.  The area is a little touristy with shops and cafes catering to the many tourists from around the world, but it was still fun to walk the narrow marble streets full of people enjoying a balmy Athens evening.

Den took one last shot of the Acropolis all lit up and we walked back to the hotel where we fell into bed, exhausted but thrilled to finally be here.

Monday morning, we woke up after about 11 hours sleep and had a filling and delicious breakfast, included with our hotel stay.  The Airotel Parthenon is a modest hotel, but very clean, wifi and breakfast are included and you really can't beat the location, steps from the Acropolis and the Plaka.

With only 1 full day in Athens, we had a lot to see today, so we put on our sturdy walking sandals, loaded up on the sunscreen, sunglasses and hats and off we went.  The south entrance to the Acropolis was merely minutes away and before we knew it, we were walking around one of the most important sites in modern civilization.  I wish I knew more ancient Greek history, but suffice it to say that both Den and I were blown away by what we saw today.  We could never have imagined how we would feel walking on steps and roads that were thousands of years old.  I also didn't realize just how magnificent the views of Athens would be from the top of the Acropolis.  We could see all the way to the port city of Pireaus and we were both amazed and thrilled to be able to enjoy such sights.  

We climbed and walked and posed and gawked for about 2 hours and then we made our way down from the top of this wonder of the world and started walking towards Syntagma Square.  There were no demonstrations today, so we were able to admire the classic Parliament building.  This area is very busy and noisy so we were happy to find the entrance to the National Gardens where we strolled in the shade for a little while, making our way to the site of the original Olympic Games, which Den explored while I sat in the shade and had a much deserved water.

We then walked back to the Plaka area, where we had a nice, relaxing lunch at a little place right at the corner of our hotel called Plakiotissa, where we both had the menu which consisted of a Greek salad, pork souvlaki and Greek appetizers ~ all this for 13 euros each!  Wine and beer completed the meal, and then we walked back into the Plaka and admired the twisting little streets once more, stopping for a refreshing chilled cappucino before making our way back to our hotel.

Dinner tonight is at Filistron's, a restaurant that I read about on the Greek site of Trip Advisor that came highly recommended for both the food and the view.  We had a very full day today, but we saw everything that we wanted to.  I'm sure we will sleep very well tonight and then it's onwards to Paros early tomorrow morning.


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