There is nothing quite like embarking on a full day of travel and having your long-lost girlfriend there to meet you on the other side of the world. My girlfriend, Amy, has been studying in Athens, Greece, for almost three months and I decided several months ago that a vacation for me would be in short order! Why should she get to have all the fun?! So I landed in Athens early Saturday morning and we haven't looked back since.
There is so much to see in Athens. Saturday was filled with exploration of the local meat, vegetable, and seafood market. That was quite a scene; the meat market was absolutely packed. Everyone was jostling to buy their whole lamb for the midnight roast for Easter; Amy said she had never witnessed the meat market so packed before. It was at this time that I had my first gyro, a great combination of mouth-watering chicken, beef, or pork stuffed in a pita with tzatziki, french fries, tomatoes, onion, paprika, and salt. If you ever make it to Greece, it is a rite of passage to enjoy a gyro!
After a quick nap for me, Amy and I walked to a great dinner at Sissifos, an incredible Greek restaurant which offered a rooftop view of the lit Acropolis. I ordered lamb with oil and oregano, and let me say with no exaggeration that it was one of the best meals I have ever had. Dinner in Greece is an all-night event; by the time we left Sissifos, full and satisfied, we had spent well over two hours enjoying the view and the wonderful food. Amy, her roommate Sarah, and I concluded the night by climbing nearly to the top of a huge hill overlooking all of Athens so we could watch the midnight fireworks show to celebrate Easter.
Sunday was filled with more sightseeing. Amy and I embarked on an early morning walk past Syntagma Square to the National Gardens, a huge forested area of flowers, creeks, trails, and such situated right next to the Greek Parliament. A strenuous hike to the top of Lycabettus Hill followed. At the top stands a small white church, centuries old, with a neat cafe adjoining. The view of Athens from the top of the hill is breathtaking. Athens stretches out in every direction as far as the eye can see. Dinner was amazing once again! Amy and I walked to Thissio, a local restaurant district, which offered another view of the lit Acropolis and superb food once again. It was here I enjoyed my first Mythos, the local Greek beer.
All three of the most prominent historical sights were visited Monday. The Agora, an ancient village which housed the common people of Greece, was an amazing sight. It has been beautifully preserved and truly offered a view into what Greece was like many centuries ago. From there we ventured all the way up the Acropolis to see the Parthenon. The sheer scale of it is mindblowing; to think that the Parthenon was built with just manpower is simply amazing. It has been extremely well-preserved and restoration work continues on it year-round. A quick walk down the other side of the Acropolis led us to the Temple of Zeus, a massive temple that the rest of ancient Athens was built around. A mid-afternoon trip to Bretton's qualifies as one of the highlights of my trip thus far. Bretton's is a 102-year-old tavern where they distill their own ouzo, the famous Greek liquor. My trip would not have been complete without a taste of ouzo, so I saddled up to the bar and ordered a glass of the 84 proof liquor. The taste of ouzo is incredibly difficult to describe; it is brewed with licorice and anise and the taste overwhelms you at first but then goes down incredibly smooth. Bretton's is a must-see for any visitor to Athens.
Amy and I are catching an early morning ferry to Santorini tomorrow. Santorini is one of the most well-known Greek islands and is considered by some to be among the most beautiful places on the planet. Pictures will be sure to follow!
Amy and I enjoyed a meal at Sissifos. The Acropolis can be seen in the upper right hand corner.
Taking a break in front of the Parthenon.
My first taste of Ouzo.
Greek man passes the time at Bretton's with a glass of Ouzo.