Athens, Greece - The first stop on our 3 week long European vacation. Boy, do I miss traveling through the most beautiful places and eating the yummiest food of my life. To be totally honest, I really didn't know what to expect with Athens. I obviously knew a lot of the history that sits directly in the center of the city and truly is within the entire city of Athens... Which is so cool. You can be causally walking on the sidewalk and all of a sudden come across thousands of years old ruins, like seriously? With that being said, the city itself is very different than what I pictured. The buildings are pretty run down and the city itself doesn't seem to have changed much in the last few hundred years (maybe thousand, but maybe that's exaggerating... I'm bad at that.) But you don't need beautiful buildings when basically every street is white marble... I felt so fancy everywhere we went 🙂
Check Out My Vlog on Athens
Below Are the Details On My Time in Spent Athens
We landed at about 4:30 pm Monday afternoon, and obviously after hours of flights my whole family wanted to chill out and prep for the night as best we could! Kirby and I are pretty non-stop people, I mean you only get so many days in each city so we like to use our time wisely. After showering up, all 9 (yes, 2 of the weeks were with 7 other people in my family... We go big haha) of us met in the lobby of our hotel. We stayed at the Royal Olympic Hotel which was awesome because it was right in the middle of the action and super easy to get to all of the major tourist areas. It sits across from the National Gardens which blew my mind... Huge pillars that are still standing from thousands of years ago!! Mind blowing. You have to pay to get into the park (which we didn't do because of the views we had from the hotel rooftop) and you can then walk pretty close up to the pillars... I think it was about $6 per person. The hotel rooftop also had an unbelievable view of the Parthenon which was the coolest all lit up at night!
Without really any idea of where to go my family set off to find a dinner spot... All of us were craving gyros, obviously. We found the most adorable tree covered street that led us to even more adorable streets with never ending shops, cafe's and restaurants. When I say never ending, I am not kidding! We would get lost in the streets at night because it would just keep breaking into different ones in every direction that you couldn't help but explore... So GPS is key! We ended up eating our first dinner at Arkadia Restaurant right off of Makrigianni and had the most amazing pork gyros with delicious pita bread... And of course lots of wine!
Our second day (first full day) we had an early tour set with a private guide (Maria - who was absolutely amazing) and set off to the Acropolis. Arriving and walking up to the amazing marble buildings & pillars was like nothing I've ever experienced. Learning the history even more in depth as your standing on the ground it took place on is a jaw dropping moment. Like my mouth was literally to the floor with everything Maria would say. I loved learning about Athena most... She seemed like a beautiful, strong and very smart goddess... All the feels 🙂 After walking all through the Acropolis and seeing the Parthenon up close and personal, we were off to take a mini site seeing tour around the city. We finished the morning tour with an amazing lunch at Spezie Pasta Cafe (again right off of Makrigianni), although I believe all of us still got pork gyros... And they were fabulous.
After lunch, some of the family wanted to head back and hang by the pool, but with going to Santorini the next day and having Cinque Terre planned about a week out, Kirby and I set out to explore. We first hit the Panathenaic Stadium which is the original place of the modern Olympics and the only stadium built completely out of marble in the entire world! It was quite the site to see and so fun running around the track like nerds 🙂 We walked for hours around the city finding parks to get lost in and ruins all along the way.
We did some souvenir shopping after to snag a magnet or a Christmas ornament (we like to do that from every place we visit... Keeps things cheap and they're easy to travel with!) The really cool thing we learned in Greece is that ancient mythology views owls as a symbol of higher wisdom, as well as a protector of the Acropolis. An owl is usually pictured next to Athena! Owls have held a very special spot in my heart after my sister-in-law passed a couple years ago... She loved them and I (and the entire family) immediately were drawn to them. So as you can imagine I was teary eyed (such an emotional person haha) and was able to find the coolest white owl with these piercing blue eyes. Happy girl. We had a couple glasses of white wine at the cutest sidewalk cafe on the corner of Sellei & Lisikratous called Eris Cafe... The food looked amazing, too, but we were holding out for dinner! After we finished we headed back to the hotel and freshened up to meet my family on the rooftop for a few drinks before dinner 🙂 We had a beautiful sunset and like I said before... the most amazing views of the Parthenon! We went out to dinner at a place Kirby and I spotted when having wine called Cafe Diogenes. It was adorable with trees and flowers covering the large outdoor patio, cute little strings of lights and the cutest kitten looking out from the window. We all had different seafood and pasta dishes that did not disappoint!
We had an early wake up call to catch a flight to Santorini the next day... Stay tuned for a future blog post!