European.Escape – Athens – December 2011

We finally arrive in Athens.  From Patras, we caught a bus, which took us to Athens in about four hours, I believe.  Not a hard thing to figure out and most convenient.

where.we.stayed

We found this apartment on airbnb.com.  It was a two bedroom, one bath apartment located on Ippokratous in the Kolonaki area.  The nearest Metro was about 5 blocks away, but we soon realized that EVERYTHING in Athens is walkable (it seemed as if the Acropolis was a magnetic field, always leading us to it).  It was an older apartment, but overall it was good place to stay for the four nights we were there.

what.we.did

The thing about Athens is that I can’t pronounce most of the words, street signs, or areas, which made it very confusing.  I didn’t do much research about what to see or do, the main thing was to see the Acropolis and eat.  Since we had five days to spend in Athens, we were able to sight see at a leisurely pace.  On most days, we tried to get lost in the streets, but somehow always ended up at the Acropolis.  Go figure.  But anyway, most of the time, we didn’t know where we were so I’ll just post the pictures:

Temple of Haphaestus - the only ruin with a roof

Temple of Haphaestus – the only ruin with a roof

Some ruins

Some ruins

more ruins

more ruins

the roman agora

the roman agora

the roman agora with the acropolis in the background

the roman agora with the acropolis in the background

Monastiraki

Monastiraki

a street near the acropolis

a street near the acropolis

a street in the Plaka area

a street in the Plaka area

another street in the plaka

another street in the plaka

some bar we walked past

some bar we walked past

  • So the main thing we needed to do was visit the Acropolis.  We got in on a Thursday and left on a Monday, with Christmas being on Sunday.  By chance, we decided to get the Acropolis visit out of the way and went on Friday morning.  Luckily we did because we later found out that all the archeological sites were going to be closed for the weekend due to a strike.  It was cold and rainy on Thursday, and we got a late start.  We were told (by Samantha Brown on the Travel Channel), that it was a good idea to hire a guide.  We were approached by two ladies even before we bought our tickets.  They offered us a guided tour for 40 EUR each.  We looked at each other and by the looks on our faces, we knew it was too much.  By this time, it was so cold that we just wanted to go up to take pictures then head back down.  Jay, being the frugal one of the group, asked if she would take 20 EUR each.  She looked at us and told us that she cannot change the price because it was a government set price.  So Jay firmly said, “No thanks.”  She tried to convince us otherwise, but we walked away.  A little while later, though, as we approached the gate, the other lady came running up to us and said, “Ok. Ok.  I do it for 20 EUR each.  We didn’t have any tours today and we are going to close soon.”  The tour was very informative, but with my lack of focus, I didn’t hear much of it.
Temple of Nike and the dog who followed us up the Acropolis - we named him Nike

Temple of Nike and the dog who followed us up the Acropolis – we named him Nike

the acropolis at night

the acropolis at night

the parthenon - always in construction mode

the parthenon – always in construction mode

a cold, windy and rainy day

a cold, windy and rainy day

Erehteion.  Apparently, the statues in the front (all except one) are not even the originals.  The originals are located in the British Museum.

Erehteion. Apparently, the statues in the front (all except one) are not even the originals. The originals are located in the British Museum.

  • Meat Market.  While exploring and looking at the map, I noticed “Meat Market”.  Knowing this is Jay’s travel passion, we walked towards it.  I didn’t expect it to be so crowded… and big!
the crowded meat market

the crowded meat market

lamb - i don't care for lamb, and this picture doesn't make it any better

lamb – i don’t care for lamb, and this picture doesn’t make it any better

and then just the heads...

and then just the heads…

the ongoings at the meat market

the ongoings at the meat market

what.we.ate

  • Of course, Jay wanted to eat at the Meat Market.  There were lots of restaurants located inside the market and we just randomly picked one.  We picked the one that had a bunch of old men drinking and eating and being loud.  Must be good right?  It turned out to be Jay’s favorite meal in Athens.  We ordered octopus, lamb and pork – the lady walked right out of the restaurant to buy the ingredients, fresh from the vendors.  I don’t like lamb, but it was the best lamb I tasted!
the meat market dinner

the meat market dinner

the meat market meal

the meat market meal

  • We also went back on Christmas night to eat at another restaurant that was open.  Another good meal.
the restaurant that was open on Christmas night - in the meat market

the restaurant that was open on Christmas night – in the meat market

chicken soup

chicken soup

pork shank

pork shank

  • Some other foods included a Greek salad, which didn’t have any lettuce (seasonal, maybe?), hummus that I didn’t care for – very dry and gritty, but not sure if it’s really like that or just the restaurant’s version, and various desserts, which all tasted like baklava because of all the honey they use.
a greek salad minus the lettuce

a greek salad minus the lettuce

dessert - yumminess

dessert – yumminess

what.I.thought

Athens was great.  I really enjoyed it and I liked the fact that we spent five days there to just explore.  This was also our first time renting an apartment, rather than staying in a hotel.  I enjoyed that the best.  Athens rail system is nice too, and very clean.  We did realize that if you don’t mind walking, you should and can.  All the streets are interesting, although covered in graffiti, but just appreciate the art.  There are lots of dogs around, and mostly friendly.  Some may be strays, but others had collars.  The scariest experience in my entire life, however, was when we unexpectedly walked into a pack of dogs, maybe in to their territory?  From a distance, they saw us and immediately charged at us, barking.  Holy crap, I froze while Jay kept walking.  What the heck?  He just left me!  I called out to him, “Hey!!!  Come back!”  He didn’t even look back and yelled back at me, “Just keep walking!”  There were about two or three dogs around and slowly I just inched towards Jay, looking as brave as I could.  In my mind, though, I could see the dogs tearing my limbs apart, fighting to eat me.   I was literally shaking, but I made it out of their zone and they turned around and left.  I realized they started to walk back towards a couple of guys standing in the distance, watching us.  I wonder if they were laughing at how scared I was, or just as tentative to come help me.  Overall, it was a good trip, although everything was closed, we were still able to see it through the gates.

these were the friendly dogs

these were the friendly dogs

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