Day 2: First Day in Athens

zeus

Day’s Agenda: See all of the historical ruins and sites that we can.

What we saw: Temple of Olympian Zeus; Hadrian’s Arch; Acropolis – including the Theater of Dionysus, Odeon of Herodes Atticus, Temple of Athena Nike, and Parthenon; Ancient Agora … and all of the streets along the way!

Inspired by one of the “Best of” walks outlined in the guide book I had picked up, we set out on a mission to see as much of ancient Athens as we could see. Though the walk outlined in the book was logged as being 2.4km in total- we logged over 11 miles in walking for the day (including our walks to and from the hotel, etc.).  Walkers be aware: the winding streets can be a bit disorienting sometimes! We found that Google maps worked well to help us navigate …. even with the occasional re-calibration!

Our first stop (after the Bread Factory) was the Temple of Olympian Zeus. It was an amazing sight to see, and very humbling to imagine that it was made by human hands long before cranes and power tools. With the Acropolis in the background (see photo above), it was a very inspiring way to start the day.

Next, we snuck a quick peek at Hadrian’s arch as we found our way to the Acropolis.

beautiful
The Propylaea, serving as a gateway to the top of the Acropolis

The view of the Acropolis throughout the city is breathtaking, and awe-inspiring… the view from the top is completely unforgettable and one of the best moments of our visit. The climb to the top can be a bit intense at times- please note that there are no handrails, fences, or other security-blankets for use on the way up. (Which was a little intimidating at moments, but really helped to ensure that the view and the experience of the site was as pure and un-touched as possible). On our way up we got to enjoy the Theater and Odeon before getting to the top. Again, it was incredible to remember that all of it was built by man.  We chose to skip the Acropolis museum in favor of spending more time in the sunshine, and more sightseeing.

After our descent from the Acropolis, we found our way to a small site which housed the Fethiye Mosque- which is now restored and repurposed as a museum.

lunch!
Poised and ready for lunch!!

Next, we had lunch at a great sidewalk cafe overlooking the ruins, with the Acropolis as a backdrop.  It was the most picturesque place I’ve ever eaten- the food was delicious also! One of my favorite things to eat during the trip was tzatziki with bread or pita- unlike the tzatziki I have had at home, the authentic versions are creamier and are served as a delicious and fresh dip – there were slight variations between the restaurants we sampled, but each one was delicious!!

ancient agora
Temple within the Ancient Agora

Our last Ancient site for the day was the Ancient Agora, which we found a bit by accident during a walk through some neighborhoods, and around Monastiraki. (We saw some great street vendors in the area around the Agora which are definitely worth seeing also!)  The Agora had a relaxing park-like atmosphere with a temple, some various ruins, and an interesting museum about the area, and all of the people and purposes the area has served.  During our leisurely walk through the Agora, we chatted about our day, and agreed that we both enjoyed the Ancient sites much more than anticipated!

After our full day of walking, we grabbed a snack and headed back to our hotel to relax for a bit.  After dinner, some evening sight-seeing and sampling of some different entertainment, we headed back to Monastiraki where we found a great place for dessert and live music… It was here that we did (what I consider) the most daring thing we did on our trip: we danced! There was such a relaxed and family-like atmosphere at every restaurant we visited… and the bouzouki was too hard for Rabbit to resist- very reluctantly, I followed… and though we had no idea what we were doing, we danced arm in arm just long enough for me to feel completely out of my element, but thrilled and happy at the same time!

I’ve shared more photos from our day below… even as I look back at them now, I can’t wrap my head around the fact that I saw them in person!! It was a really incredible and amazing experience …and that was just the first day!

It was on this day that we learned that Uber is not as reliable in Athens as it is in other cities – though the taxis may be a little more pricey, they might be worth it to rest your tired feet.

We headed back to the hotel around 1am (leaving many Athenians behind, still dancing!), in need of some sleep.

Ahead in Day Two: Olympic Stadium, a hike up Lykavittos Hill, Kolonaki, and souvlaki!

– Gabby

 

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