Yassou Athens!

On June 3rd, we arrived in Patras, Greece, forgetting that we were changing time zones and we missed our train. We waited at the train station and had our first authentic Greek tzatiki with bread and we were in heaven. It was so much better than any we had in the states. Once we got on the train, we had to switch to a bus because of rail repairs and then finally back on the train. All of this after a 22 hour ferry, needless to say we were exhausted but we were finally in Athens, Greece.

Our host was Evangelos, a born and bred Greek guy who is 23 and attending university in Athens. His family is from a small town in Northern Greece, near Turkey. He met us at the metro station and walked us to his family’s apartment where he lives in central Athens.

The minute we walked in, he showed us our own bedroom and told us that he had two other couchsurfers staying as well. Gabriella is from Mexico and this other guy from Argentina whose name we have forgotten. He immediately told us that he was making us a Frappe which is a very Greek coffee drink that takes an hour to drink and that we were not supposed to put toilet paper in the toilet because in Greece, the plumbing is so small and temperamental that not even toilet paper fits in the pipes. That took some adjusting on our part as we are used to just throwing our paper in the bowl. The frappe was really excellent and then Evangelos friend popped over with some spinach pies that his grandmother had just made fresh. Spinach pies are a traditional Greek dish and Evangelos gave us a whole plate of them for dinner and gave us this feta cheese dip called Katiki which pretty much made me want to move to Greece immediately. After our dinner, he let us try ouzo which is a liquer that tastes like licorice that is made in Greece. Our evening of educating us on Greek cuisine was not drawing to an end anytime soon though because we all met up with Gabriella and Argentinean guy at this really beautiful little street that has the hippest little bars where everyone perches outside on pillows and drinks fancy cocktails. As we came up from the metro though, the acropolis was looming on it’s massive perch above the city, all lit up and stunning. We were in shock at how gorgeous this ancient ruin was and thrilled at how lucky we were to be in Athens. We all found a good bar and ordered this special mulled Greek wine with cinnamon and were soon joined by more of Evangelos friends. The bar was beautiful with big cushions and twinkly lights.

We sat around chatting about Greece and where we should go, as well as Gabriella’s experience living in Slovenia and being a traveler from Mexico which is one country we don’t meet fellow travelers from too often.

Ellie and Gabriella
We got a cab home since the Metro was closed and we were shocked when our cab pulled over and picked another girl up while we were already in it.

The next morning we awoke to fresh Mugatsa which is a Greek cream pastry with powdered sugar that you purchase by the kilo. It was so so good and I am still dreaming about it now as I write. We decided to walk from Evangelos to the acropolis so we could see Athens and on the way we found a camera store where Ellie got a new lens for her camera which was wonderful because it will restore the blog to it’s original quality. We walked for ages through most of the important neighborhoods of Athens including Ommonia and the Plaka.

On our walk, we passed the Greek Archeaology museum

We finally arrived at the Athenian acropolis along with the hundreds of other tourists. The Acropolis hill (acro – edge, polis – city), so called the “Sacred Rock” of Athens, is the most important site of the city and constitutes one of the most recognizable monuments of the world. It is the most significant reference point of ancient Greek culture, as well as the symbol of the city of Athens itself as it represent the apogee of artistic development in the 5th century BC. During Perikles’ Golden Age, ancient Greek civilization was represented in an ideal way on the hill and some of the architectural masterpieces of the period were erected on its ground.

The Propylaea are the monumental entrances to the sacred area dedicated to Athena, the patron goddess of the city. Built by the architect Mnesicles with Pentelic marble, their design was avant-garde. To the south-west of the Propylaea, on a rampart protecting the main entrance to the Acropolis, is the Ionian temple of Apteros Nike, which is now being restored.

The first habitation remains on the Acropolis date from the Neolithic period. Over the centuries, the rocky hill was continuously used either as a cult place or as a residential area or both. The inscriptions on the numerous and precious offerings to the sanctuary of Athena (marble korai, bronze and clay statuettes and vases) indicate that the cult of the city’s patron goddess was established as early as the Archaic period (650-480 B.C.).

We decided against a tour guide and just walked around ourselves. It is hard to believe that we were standing on something so old and ancient and such a huge part of history. It almost seemed fairy tale. We could hardly believe that something this old still existed. At the same time, it was a little disappointing because many of the temples and statues were under construction and were being renovated during our visit. Here are a ton of photos from our visit to the acropolis.

On the way into the grounds of the acropolis

The acropolis museum

Climbing to the acropolis

The view of Athens from the top

the old amphitheatre

The entrance

the parthenon under scaffolding

Ruins from above

We almost got kicked out of the museum for this photo.

The Acropolis museum

In our guidebook, we read about a vegetarian Greek restaurant but when we attempted to find it, it had been closed down so we ate at the Plaka along with the tons of other tourists but we were not at all disappointed by our first real meal in Greece. We had tzatiki, eggplant salad and greek salad along with tons of bread and it was delicious.

Right next to our table, a grape tree.

After lunch, we were supposed to meet up with Thelma, another girl from couchsurfing but she lost her phone so we never met up with her and instead opted for a nap after our long hot day battling with hordes of tourists. After the nap and a shower we headed back towards to the acropolis because I wanted to see the city lit up one last time before leaving by ferry to the Cyclades islands the next day. We got a one euro vegetarian pita on the street and a soda, admiring the quick pace of Athens.
Cool grafitti.
We luckily found a street party with a dj that was celebrating the opening of a new clothing store that had such amazing style. What was more amazing though was that everything was free. All of the drinks and snacks and music and it was so much fun to be at something where we were the only ones who didn’t speak Greek. Athenian women are very glamorous and well put together, very similar to women from Miami with expensive clothes and always high heels. After a few drinks, we went back to Evangelos neighborhood to chat with Gabriella and say good-bye to them both over a drink at a bar around the corner.

The next morning at 5, we took a taxi to the port to purchase our ferry ticket to Paros, ready for some beaches and more Greek salad. We loved Athens and after it getting a bad rep from many other travelers that we met along the way, we were pleased to find out they were wrong in our opinions. It wasn’t that dirty or that scary and everyone was friendly. I guess it goes to say that not everyone has the same tastes so we should learn to take other traveler’s opinions of places with a grain of salt(I now feel like a grandma for using that metaphor.)


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