All About Athens

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Flying into Athens over the coast

Warning: This post contains graphic recounts of unfathomable amounts of deliciousness and should not be read on an empty stomach! Also featured in this post is a rather profound epiphany about revisiting the place where half of my Greek-Danish roots lie. A very gastronomic and philosophic piece if I do say so myself!

And so the adventure continues…The last two weeks have absolutely flown by in a flurry of sun, sweat and souvlaki in Athens and Santorini.

Currently, this post is being drafted at approximately 28000ft. (not quite as high as I am used to, but we are flying with British Airways for the first time, and I must say it has been a lovely experience!) By the time it reaches you I will most likely be homeward bound!

Exploring the plaka on our first day!

Exploring the plaka on our first day!

We landed in Athens almost two weeks ago and after a smooth transfer to the hotel, it was out for some lunch and a look around. Like most people I absolutely loathe waiting in queues for the necessary evils of travel…such as passport control, customs and baggage claim, but it is all part of the fun as travelling as a full-fare paying passenger! It has been so nice to relax in -light rather than be occupied with work, though I definitely prefer being crew on longer flights…as a passenger they tend to drag out and be rather monotonous.

After getting us lost about 50 000 times due too my skewed sense of direction (my internal GPS hadn’t quite adjusted as yet! 😛 ), we settled for what we would later learn was highly over priced but extremely tasty lunch. We dined on Greek favourites such as Saganaki (fried cheese), Greek Salad and a chicken Souvlaki each. Just to clear the air, for those of you who aren’t Greek: a souvlaki is cubed meat (chicken, pork, or lamb) grilled on a skewer and served on or with an accompaniment of pita bread, patates (chips) and of course, everyone’s favourite: tzatziki!

A deconstructed gyros! The common way to eat them in Greece...

A deconstructed gyros! The common way to eat them in Greece…

A gyros, on the other hand, is shaved meat (that has been cooked rotisserie style on a vertical spit) wrapped in pitta bread with chips, tzatziki, tomatoes and onions. The best part about true Greek gyros is the paprika! They sprinkle it on everything, from meat to potatoes, salad and dips! It was a lovely flavour addition and one we had come to love during our stay.

Syntagma Square/ Parliament House

Syntagma Square/ Parliament House

 

We spent 5 days in Athens, 2 nights in a hotel and 3 in an apartment with family. It was a great experience, as both our accommodations were central to two of the main tourist hotspots in Athens- the plaka and Syntagma Square. Our days were filled with meandering through the flea markets, ancient ruins and commercial shops alike.

At the Top!

At the Top!

We climbed the manysteps to the top of Mount Lykavittos where we were treated to uninterrupted views of Athens, I highly recommend adding this to your to do list when visiting. It as an affordable and active way to see the city that doesn’t require hours of travel to do so, as it is about a 15 minute walk from the main square. Tourists can climb the steps all the way in 35 + degree heat (as we decided to!) or take the much faster, and cooler option of the teleferik or “cable car” that still offers pretty views of the scenery for a small cost, instead of trekking up through the scenery with prickly Greek weeds threatening to sabotage the whole operation at any moment. Either way, the view from the top of the lookout is unparalleled, and you may also dine at the top (the prices are quite exorbitant, but such a sight calls for celebration!), or visit the quaint Greek Orthadox church at the peak where you can light a candle and appreciate the serenity of this place of worship without necessarily having to sit through a very long service that you may not understand…even if you do speak a touch of Greek like me!

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Later that afternoon treat continued with a make-your-own “Magic” (Magnum, as we call it back home) shop. I chose a vanilla ice cream, coated in milk chocolate, and garnished with salted popcorn, speculoos crumble and pink almond stars, drizzled with more dark chocolate! As a caramel addict I was surprised that there was no caramel toppings, but speculoos are Dutch caramel flavoured waffles so there was really no need to panic 😉

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Another obvious addition to our trip was an obligatory visit to the Acropolis. This was my third visit to this particular wander, and my fourth trip to Athens in total. Funnily enough, all of these trips weren’t for business, but rather pleasure.

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Even though I’ve seen these sights time and time again, I still feel some magnetic attraction to revisit my footsteps. I think it’s the history and magnitude of such a structure that was built so very long ago. That it still stands today, so that we may traipse around with our Converse and Iphones and attempt to comprehend importance and opulence where our (my) ancestors once gathered.

It reminded me of the enormity of the world and both the simultaneous significance and insignificance of my life and the lives of those around me. It is such a humbling experience and feel that everyone should revisit any major landmarks that they have seen at least once in order to feel this overwhelming sense of recollection and be reminded that although many things in life change over time- minds, love, family, friends, passion- some things always have and always will remain the same. It offers a sense of comfort and calm in a world that is ever growing and changing. It’s like coming home again when you’ve already left the place where you live. Ah, the beauty of travel!

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