We had one last day in Greece to explore in Athens some more. This was the view from our hotel room window - how fabulous is that?!
The Acropolis looks pretty close up on that hill, doesn't it? So, we decided to walk there. LOL - it's longer and a much steeper walk than it looks! We started out early to try to beat the crowds and the hottest part of the day.
I took photos as we walked along - here are some examples of how the graffiti is everywhere.
As we got higher, the views got better...
We looked down on the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, built in 161BC, where performances are held.
Up at the Acropolis, we took in the ancient building and marveled at what was built so long ago.
This is the Theatre of Dionysus, built about the 6th century BC. It held about 15,000 people. The modern Acropolis Museum is in the distance (and the sprawling city stretching on beyond). We didn't get to do the museum this time, but I've heard that it is great.
The Parthenon (447BC) is constantly under renovation and restoration as better ways to preserve the site are discovered.
We watched workers meticulously doing their jobs...
The shadows make the Doric columns look like they are bowed but they are perfectly straight. It is so mathematically precise!
We were SOOO glad we came early and were leaving as the crowds were coming!
We walked around the base of the Acropolis and some nice people asked if we'd like a photo! Yes, please!
It was hot and we were tired and hungry (we also walked to the National Garden and around there, but I don't have any photos - I was too hot and hungry!) We finally hopped in a taxi and went to a tavern that our driver recommended. He was a God-send! He was so nice that we arranged for him to pick us up the next morning to go to the airport, and I got his card and will always call him when I'm in Athens to arrange rides. (I love having contacts like that!) We walked about 7 miles. Yikes!
He recommended this tavern near Monastiraki Square. You can order outside and walk around with your food in hand or sit and order like we did.
Our lovely outside table was just out this door where we peek in and see the very traditional family atmosphere of a typical tavern.
After all that walking, Dave wanted a nap and I wanted a little sun, so I found a good spot on a chaise on the roof (with a view!)
We had a few more hours left in the day to explore some more, so we headed up the street to find some gelato. Along the way, we passed this Greek Orthodox church and decided to look inside.
There were two frames in the sanctuary that each person was stopping to kiss...
I can guess that it is Jesus and the Apostles, but does anyone know the significance of this particular piece?
At last we found a fabulous gelato shop, Le Greche - how to choose the flavor? My favorites are Amarena (cherry) and Mascarpone and Figs, so that what I got here. So good!
We wandered up and down along the Plaka shopping area. This interesting man was selling corn on the cob...
We saw more cats, of course!
We grabbed a snack for dinner and then said farewell to Athens!
We were up very early for our flight - and had enough time to browse in the airport shops. I didn't buy this bag, but felt like I should have!
We flew back to Rome where I caught a train to Florence that afternoon (after stopping at the hotel where I'd stayed in Rome previously to switch out clothes for the rest of my trip and leave things that I would get when I would return to Rome again.) Dave stayed in Rome for his flight back to the US the next morning.
So, what did I think about Greece? As I said before, it was never high on my list of where I wanted to go, but when the opportunity came along to have a retreat there, I felt like I should visit before I brought others there. It turned out that we loved it and would definitely return. We loved the island of Syros the most because it matches what we like in a vacation the most (lots to see and do, easy to get around, interesting and varying landscapes, places to explore, good food, very inexpensive, shops, water and beaches, interesting history, not a tourist hotspot.) We didn't love Mykonos and wouldn't return unless it was to pass through the port (although we loved our hotel.) We would return to Santorini because there are some things we didn't have time to do and explore, but we would also like to see other islands (there are 227 inhabited islands in Greece!) Naxos and Crete are on my list - any other suggestions?
It is incredibly affordable to travel there - because of the economic crisis Greece has had, the prices of hotels and food are so affordable compared to what we are used to.
One of the favorite things that we heard over and over in Greece was the phrase, "Anything is possible." We might ask if we could get something or do something, and the usual response was that anything is possible. I loved that optimistic answer! If they could, they would find a way to make it happen.
The food is very fresh and good. We had Greek salad with almost every meal (and sometimes as the meal). Unlike Greek salad that I'm used to, there isn't any lettuce in the salad there. It is usually just very fresh pieces of tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, onion, feta cheese (usually served as a slice on top of the other ingredients), and olives, typically seasoned with salt and oregano, and dressed with olive oil. We had feta every way you can imagine as it is served with almost every dish. It's very mild compared to the feta we usually have because it is from goat's milk rather than cow's milk, I was told. And the baklava! Sooo good! We also loved banoffee, but realize now that it is an English dessert with bananas, cream, and toffee with a butter biscuit crust. We thought it was Greek because we got it a couple different places.
I'm hoping to do two trips to Greece next year in 2019... a trip in the spring with a few days on Syros, a day in Athens, a couple days in Venice, ending in Florence, Italy, next May, and then a week in Greece in September. If you'd like to be on my "interested" list to get advance information, you can email me at email@example.com. I'd love to have you join me there!