Our first trip to Greece is starting out in Athens!
If you read this post you know that we got an extra day here thanks to an airport strike,
so we made the most of it and thought this city had so much to offer. The history alone
is staggering, and the culture and feel today makes it even more interesting to visit.
Athens may be the grittier side of Greece, but it is where so much began and there
are great aspects to it. I liked being in the thick of the action and seeing how the
country actually runs and operates before heading to the luxurious islands.
We stayed right below the Acropolis at Herodion Hotel and felt like we were
right in the center of history! We could see it from the hotel deck at night,
and we toured it on this Athens Walking Tour. We both felt like we learned
so much and got a lot more out of it than if we had just walked on our own.
We met down outside the entrance, and then entered the Acropolis from the south slope
which had almost no crowds…another benefit of coming just before the peak season!
^^ We first saw the Dionysus sanctuary and Dionysus Theatre, built in the 5th century BC.
It was getting warm as we hiked up the hill to an amazing view of the city below.
I cannot imagine visiting Athens in the summertime when it is the most crowded,
because it already felt so hot touring around! Maybe we just haven’t seen the sun in
months so it felt more extreme, but 75 degrees was feeling plenty warm enough for us :)
I didn’t realize that as part of seeing the Acropolis, there are lots of other sights within it!
We learned all about the Parthenon, the Erectheion, the Propylaia, the Nike Temple,
the Agrippa Monument and the other nearby monuments like the Odeon of Herodes
Atticus, the Ancient Agora, the Observatory, and the Philopappos, Mars, & Pnyx Hills.
I wore this fun pregnancy countdown tee on our tour, and decided that 40 weeks
doesn’t seem quite so long compared to the thousands of years of ancient history
we were walking through :) Everyone around us kept smiling at my shirt and
talking to us about our baby, the gender, etc. It was perfect to wear on a trip!
I’m actually now around week 27 almost (!!!) and crossing
these numbers off made it seem like time has flown. ^^
Mount Lycabettus could be seen in the distance ^^ It is the highest point in the city,
and we also hiked to it another day. Athens definitely got our climbing step count up!
These buildings were so beautiful in person.
The color of the marble against the sky is stunning.
On the right is Athena’s Tree: apparently the first olive tree in Greece! ^^
As we left the tour we walked out to Mars Hill, the Biblical sight where the
apostle Paul spoke when he visited Athens. Another amazing piece of history!
We went to the old town Plaka for some of the yummiest chicken gyros
and some dried fruit for lunch after all of that walking in the sun! ^^
(PS I think each gyro was €2 … so it is pretty great to eat in Greece! :)
Our friend Laura told us to look for coconut sticks in this square in Athens,
and you bet we found them! Chocolate-covered was our choice . . . delish.
We strolled around after taking in shops and market stands ^^
^^ How about these gorgeous streets?
Pretty dish designs + orange trees lining the streets…Greek charm! ^^
Another tip: find a fresh authentic Greek yogurt bar like Fresko for an afternoon snack here!
We’ve had so SO much amazing Greek yogurt this trip, and we can’t get enough of it…
it’s kind of like how you get gelato in Italy multiple times a day and never get tired of it
(but so much healthier :) Order it drizzled with fresh Greek honey and enjoy. Mmm!
More pretty buildings in downtown Athens ^^
And, here is the opposite view from Mount Lycabettus –> looking back
across the city to the Acropolis. This was another hot day hiking this! ^^
Church on top of the hill, cactus on the trail going down ^^
Another treat after hiking another day ^^
…this amazing acai bowl from Pure Juice Bar.
^^ The ruins of the Temple of Olympian Zeus were cool to see in the middle of the
busy city, as was the first Olympic Stadium nearby. So much history amidst today’s city.
All of this sightseeing was made so easy by the location of our hotel
right near everything. The Herodion was so welcoming and lovely.
After long days of sightseeing in the city, nothing sounded better than dinner
at our own hotel – luckily the restaurant here is one of the best! We were already
beginning to fall in love with Greece these first 2 days between the sights and FOOD.
^^ Highlight of the evening was this appetizer recommended by our waiter:
loukoumades! It was unlike anything we’ve eaten before – it’s sweet + savory fried
dough filled with manouri cream cheese from Thessaly. We’re still talking about them :)
With this dish we also ordered a chiotiki salad with spinach, walnuts, beetroot, and the
most incredible Mastelo cheese from Chios island. Every bite was amazing! Best combo ^^
We also cannot get enough of the pure local olive oil +
Greek olives accompanying each meal… favorite.
One of the few Greek dishes I have actually had is moussaka – it is very traditional and a
must-try. We got it here and loved their take on it. It is an eggplant-based dish, with ground
meat and white sauce, all layered sort of like lasagna. It’s hard to describe but so good!
We also did some spinach and cheese pies which I’ve become obsessed with here.
Food is made even better by a great view ^^
…and let us not forget ^^ more honey doughnuts later on for dessert :)
After some fabulous sightseeing days in Athens, we cozied up to this view
with full happy bellies excited for the next 10 days in incredible Greece!
We’re on the islands now and falling even more in love – sharing soon!