Welcome to Athens! Our time in Greece was short, and there is so much more we need to go back to explore, but it was wonderful while it lasted. Prepare yourself for a few mythological stories, great food, and friendly locals when you come to Athens.
Athens get this bad rep of being really grungy and dirty. Well. It’s true. The cleanliness of the streets of Athens certainly didn’t line up to the typical European cities that Americans flock to: Rome, Paris, London… But Athens was chocked full of fascinating history, amazing architecture from Before Christ, and baklava shops on every corner. And if we are being honest… Athens was in much better shape than TONS of US cities, so forget about the little bit of grunge, people.
We began our Greek adventure with a few hiccups. The instructions to our flat told us to take any bus from the square… and go two stops. The problem was there were busses going in 4 directions and every sign, map, and flyer was in Greek. Most countries we visited, we could at least sound out street names to ask people about… Not here. It was all Greek to us! 😉 😉
After getting really lost and taking the wrong bus a few times…we found our flat and settled in. The apartment was damp and dingy and left something to be desired… but the central location with a view of the Acropolis from our balcony was hard to beat.
One of our favorite activities in Athens was taking our time, shopping, eating, relaxing, and exploring the streets of Plaka. A web of narrow streets and pretty much no sidewalks, the area of Plaka surrounds the base of The Acropolis and offers many restaurant choices, local art galleries, and souvenir shops. Plaka definitely caters to tourists, but we couldn’t help loving it. The beautiful tree-lined streets with their twists and turns leading us to flea markets and dessert shops. It was a beautiful area.
Because of our location, we started every day passing the same row of 10 restaurants where highly assertive greeters would try to entice you to choose their establishment, no matter what time of day. “Free drinks for you and the lady!” “Best real Greek food you find.”
One of these greeters remembered us every single day. He must see thousands of tourists walk by his storefront, but most only stay in Athens a few days. He began to recognize us since we passed him every morning and every afternoon for two weeks straight. Everyday he would talk to us, ask questions about the States, ask why we never eat at his restaurant even though he asks us constantly. He was kind and funny and began to expect our chats as we strolled by on the way to a museum or temple. He claimed his food was the best. (But all of them did.) We promised we would come for dinner on our last night in Athens, and we didn’t let him down. He was so excited we finally came for a meal he showered us with free drinks and free dessert. Brad and I both got lamb dishes for entrees and guess what… it was our favorite meal of the trip. He wasn’t lying. He has the best food. When you are in Athens, look up The Arcadia outside Plaka.
Another favorite dish of ours to seek out was the classic, authentic, Greek Gyro. After some strong debate on the pronunciation, Brad thought he’d won when the waiter pronounced it his way, “heero”, but when they were brought to our table another server says, “jiros”. The world may never know what’s right. I know gyros are supposed to be the poor man’s food, the shaved meat and the wrapped pita to go, but I LOVE THEM. I love the meat, I love tzatziki sauce. We got ourselves gyros every chance we could. And Yes, those are french fries inside the Gyro… apparently that’s what they do here. We preferred them sans french fries.
We tried souvlaki, greek salads with giant cubes of feta, moussaka, and tons and tons of baklava and can honestly say we love greek food. Friendly people and amazing food really enhance your travel experience!