After our little stay in Cappadocia, we left Turkey for the Greek half of our honeymoon. We arrived in Athens early in the afternoon and took the metro to Monastiraki square. As soon as we got back on the surface in the heart of the city, we were in awe. The people buzzing around the square, the sun shinning high, the hipster crowds sitting on the streets surrounded by great street art. I instantly loved it.
We walked to the Center Square Hotel, located in the middle of a farmers’ market, which can seem odd at first but turns out to be quite charming on Sunday morning. It is almost halfway from both Monastiraki and Syntagma Square and you can walk everywhere. But the real perk was the amazing rooftop terrace (and bar!) with a great view of the Parthenon and the rest of Athens.
On our first night we went to Monastiraki for dinner and ended up in this charming bar as soon as we saw the ‘Rooftop Garden’ sign on the door. We just couldn’t get enough of the Acropolis view. The young, hip atmosphere, the €2 beers and the good food also helped for a great first meal in Greece. Back in our hotel, we went back to the rooftop bar for a few more drinks (and Acropolis watching) and then off to bed because the next day was going to be, well, hectic!
We had the itinerary kind of figured out, we just didn’t know exactly how far un place was from the other, so we decided which places were a must for us, and we’d try go to as many of them as we could. Then, on our second (an last) day in Athens we got up early and by 10 am we where at our first stop: the Ancient Agora. Sitting at the feet of the Acropolis, this used to be the downtown of the city for centuries, where everything happened. I took us like two hours to go around the Agora, and I’m pretty sure we missed something.
When we were done, the hot midday sun urged us to go uphill and finally get closer to the glorious Parthenon. To be actually there gave me goosebumps, despite the herds of disrespectful tourists and the scaffolds and cranes from the never ending reconstruction. It’s like standing in the heart of civilization. To think that all those philosophers you studied through your life and shaped the way we see the world today were there once is overwhelming. All in all, we didn’t spend a lot of time there, you just soak it all in, take photos and move away from the aforementioned herds.
From there we went back down a few block to the Acropolis Museum. MIND-BLOWING. Everything is so modern, so organized, so easily explained that it lets you put all the pieces of the puzzle in place. They even give you a map with the route you have to follow in order to understand it all wasting no time. After that, we bought a few snacks from the street vendors and headed to the beautiful National Gardens for a little picnic.
Our next stops were the Temple of Olympian Zeus and the Panathenaic Stadium. The stadium was the one attraction Nico was more excited to visit, I think, being the big sports fan he is. We got the audio guide, which was very helpful, and took us about an hour to go all over the place. We left the Stadium and started walking towards the Parliament and Syntagma square, where I hoped to see the changing of guard of the Evzones at 5 pm. I realized we were too late for that, but as we were right in front the Presidential Residence we saw the Evzones who guard the President started moving. We finally got to see the changing of the guard right there! I couldn’t have asked for more.
The final stop was Syntagma square and the Parliament in front of it. We sat for a while in the square, where we rested and ate ice cream before walking back to the hotel. The whole day was exhausting, yes, but oh so worth it! I actually didn’t think we could go so many places in a day, but we did. And we where able to stay for as long as we wanted in every place, with no hurry.
That night we went to Plaka for dinner. We were worn out, but this incredible city had something else in store for us. The neighborhood at night is as charming as it is during the day. There are lots of restaurants and bars, were you sit in little tables on the steps under the vines intertwined with strings of lights. It was almost magical, and a great closing for our Athens adventures.
Here’s a little map with our whole itinerary for that day. Click on it to see the details.