All that Athen some

12 Feb

You can’t go to Greece without visiting its capital, Athens. Ok, I guess you could…if you were on a cruise or something and only visiting the islands.  But there’s a ton of stuff to see and do in Athens and so I spent a week there at the end of my time in Greece.

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Great view of the Acropolis at night.

 

On our first full day, we started in Syntagma Square and went on a guided walking tour with Rick Steves (accompanied by Lisa). Maybe they weren’t physically right there in front of us, but listening to them via recording is pretty much the same thing, right?  

 

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Syntagma square. Pictured here are our tour guides Rick and Lisa. Don’t see them? Yeah, neither did we.

 

On the walking tour, we learned and saw so much: churches, old department stores, secure banks (the banks here are so secure). We also saw two guards outside of the parliament building wearing skirts with 400 pleats. Each pleat represented a year in the 400-year Ottoman rule. That’s some serious dedication if you ask me.

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When history meets fashion.

During the guided tour, our invisible guide, Rick, suggested that we check out a detour, and boy was I glad we did. Not only did we get to see some awesome relics of the past, but also once the regular walking tour resumed, Rick berated all of the “losers” (verbatim) who decided to miss out on such a cool detour. Rick can have a dark sense of humor sometimes.

I saw fresh squeezed orange juice from a vending machine and a cat who likes to sleep on top of cars not under them.  We ate snacks and food; oranges, olives, oil, honey, cheese
(was this a shopping list or just all of the things they do really well here?)  And more baked goods.  The incredible bakeries.  Plus baklava for dessert.

 

 

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Relics of the past made us use our imaginations to picture what it looked like back then.

 

We walked around the Ancient Agora with our invisible tour guide speaking sweet nothings (aka directions and information) into our ears. We were contented to know that we were walking the same path Socrates and other Greek philosophers had walked centuries before us. We also got a great sense of history while we were here like…

  • Greek’s Golden Age was about 1,500 years ago in 450 BC.
  • 1922 was the last Turkish/ Greek war. This marked the time when the Turks had to get out of Greece (Greece has since become a country that’s hard to gain citizenship in. For example, you must become Greek Orthodox to do so).

 

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Nothing could RUIN these Athenian views… haha get it?


Being the savvy travelers that we are, Ben and I planned out a full day of exploring the Acropolis, Parthenon, and its accompanied museum on the “free day” that happens every month. So we got to check out these neat structures for, yes, that’s right– $Free.99.  

 

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A 15-minute walk to get to the top of the Acropolis, but Ben and I were expert walkers at this point.

 

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Incredible!

 

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Still standing…but not without a back brace…

 

They are currently restoring the Acropolis, which is actually taking twice as long as it took to originally build. And that’s saying quite a lot considering the feat of architecture this took to build. The architects did this all out of stone and made it look flat like an illusion. It took a lot of time and money. We learned that it took probably around $1 billion (modern-day dollars) to build.

We went to the Acropolis museum and learned about this beautiful building that is waiting for England to return the Elgin marbles that once sat on top of the Acropolis. England took the marbles in the 1800s, and Greece wants them back (can’t blame them!). England probably won’t return the relic because then other countries would want their relics back (this sounds like a job for Indiana Jones). The museum showed a 20-minute movie about the whole ordeal and about how the marbles were taken in the first place and why they belong to Greece. Will the relics ever be restored, or has Greece lost its marbles for good?

After this wonderful movie (Oscar-worthy, truly), Ben and I realized that we had accidentally gone to the wrong museum. We went to the Acropolis museum instead of the National Museum, which meant that we, in fact, payed for something that was meant to be free. Whoopsies.

 

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Another stadium, did we dare perform?

 

 

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If this doesn’t make your mouth water, you don’t have one.

 

On another interesting day of adventure, Ben and I watched as protestors in town were marching against Macedonia (the country) because of its name. Ben and I simply observed the demonstration as we drank some delicious coffee and watched democracy (which originated in Greece) hard at work.

 

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But alas! Just like all the desserts we ate on our trip, all good things must come to an end, and Ben had to leave me one sad Monday. I joined a gym (29 Euros a month) because all of those baked goods weren’t doing me any favors (they needed my dad’s first name to put it on the gym membership, which was strange). Once that was all set up, I got an Airbnb at the last minute (12 euros a night) outside of the main part of town.

My host’s name was Ugur (pronounced Ooor); he’s a wonderful Turkish guy with an adorable, friendly cat named Minosh.

 

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Jam sesh!!!

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Minosh rockin’ out to Ugur’s music.


We became fast friends (Minosh, too) and spent that first night reading through my past blog posts–dozens of them– from the Mystery Trip and even farther back to my very first post.

I really enjoyed getting to know him, too. Ugur works at a call center (for Apple but doesn’t have any Apple products), and hearing his stories will most certainly make me remember to be really nice to people working in call centers. He just knows that people call to yell at him all day, but he is such a sweet guy. So the next time I’m on hold for 45 minutes and the person on the other end isn’t helping me, I’ll think of sweet Ugur to keep my anger at bay.

We had a nice week sharing his space together and watching snooker ball (his favorite sport on TV…I might’ve gotten really into it as well) and, of course, the Olympics. We also started getting into a Netflix show called Dark; it’s like Stranger Things except it’s in German, which definitely adds to the cool factor.

 

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Some gorgeous views that don’t involve ruins.

 

During my last days in Athens, I went for several long walks and saw different parts of the city like the port area and parks. The streets were lined with oranges and olives, and it was really something special– so special I even texted Katie Diamond to tell her about it (shout out!)! I also went to the gym every day to burn off the delicious treats I was still eating…because really, I wasn’t about to stop frequenting those delicious bakeries. Plus, I really got the most out of my 29 euros. The yoga classes I took at the gym were in Greek, and the only words in common with English were ‘flex’ and ‘cobra,’ so I spent a lot of time peeking over at my neighbors to copy their form.

As it did get a bit lonely once Ben left, I was reenergized after I chatted with the beautiful and pregnant Melina in the land down under! It was so nice to catch up and see her face (shout out #2!)!

On one of my last days there, I ended up visiting the National Museum on my own. I can’t say that I remember anything I learned there, BUT I can tell you that I had a very pleasant time looking around.

 

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They were clearly all about the detail in 500 BC.

 

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Getting ready for some delicious food.

 

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So, to end my trip the right way, I decided to go out for dinner and get one more Greek salad. I wanted that to be my final meal before I boarded the plane and departed from this beautiful, delicious country.  And of course a baked good.  I know, even if I get all the ingredients to make a Greek salad at home it won’t be the same.  The feta is incredible.   And I’ll be missing those Grecian sunsets that come on the side.

Efharisto (thank you),
‘mi

 

 

 

One Response to “All that Athen some”

  1. deekerson April 11, 2018 at 9:55 pm #

    Love the Acropolis photo. Did the guards give you the history info freely or did you have to pleat for it? 😉 And how would the gym know if you gave a bogus first name for your dad? Sound like you had a great time. xoxo

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