i haven’t been writing about our adventures as frequently in the past few days, because i’ve been too busy loving every moment, and then collapsing exhausted in bed every night. there aren’t enough hours in the day to explore all these cities and then turn around and write about them. so, i’ll try to get caught up on the rest of our time in athens:
i think i left off on david’s day 15 photos – we first went out to monastiraki square in search of coffee and some agora ruins. i got a greek yogurt for breakfast, and i have to say that the yogurt i’ve had over here is the best stuff i’ve ever tasted. i’ve never been a big yogurt fan in the states, but everything about greek yogurt is dreamily delicious – the texture, the flavor, the combination of sweet and bitter… sigh. it’s unreal. i ate it every chance i could get.
then we were off walking through a ton of sites. let’s see if i can list all their names here: hadrian’s library (with a beautiful statue of a headless nike athena in the small museum), roman agora with the fascinating and epic-sounding ‘tower of the winds,’ and ancient agora (the heart of ancient athens where socrates and paul spent their days. it held a cool museum, and the temple of hephaestus which is the best preserved doric temple in greece, and also where we heard “gangnam style” blaring from a nearby restaurant. oh korea, we can’t escape you).
we headed back to monastiraki square for lunch and got some hearty pita gyros and a greek salad in a lively local taverna with live music blaring. then – bonus – we got free greek yogurt with honey for dessert! can you tell i’m obsessed with this yogurt yet?
after that, we walked around near the acropolis and finally settled into a cafe for afternoon coffees and planning for our last full day in athens. for dinner, we weren’t too hungry, but settled on a place near the city center called filema (thanks, lonely planet) where we got a few mezes like fried tomato balls, tzatziki, and potato salad. we watched the local street dogs get into a barking contest, and watched the night unfold sitting outside at this streetside restaurant.
day 16 – off to the national archeological museum! they have an amazing collection of greek antiquities. we especially enjoyed the sculptures like the statue of zeus (or poseidon) that was found in the sea and is dated to 460 BC, the statue of a horse and a young rider, and a temporary exhibit from a shipwreck. upstairs a whole exhibit was dedicated to the site we visited in santorini, so that was neat for us to see.
then, we walked through the steep and posh streets of kolonaki before arriving to a hip coffee shop called da capo, where we got our standard lattes and watched the crowds walk by. we noticed a good number of people carrying frozen yogurt treats, so naturally we had to join with the locals and order some frozen greek yogurt (also amazing) before the long trek up to the “funicular railway” – a cable car that carries passengers up to lykavittos hill for great, uninterrupted views of athens.
at the top, we lingered and peeked into the old chapel of agios georgios. we watched the sun sink low in the sky before heading back down. we decided to get dinner in the neighborhood, and ended up eating at our new favorite restaurant in athens – called oikeio, it means homey or cozy, and that is exactly what it was. full of kitschy old home decor, lots of low lamps and fake flowers, the place felt so off-the-beaten path, but it was also clearly popular with the locals. we shared some chicken meatball pitas and salmon pasta and cleaned our plates.
day 17 – we tried to get moving early, packing up our bags before heading back to monastiraki square where we got greek yogurt for breakfast before venturing into the athens sunday morning flea market. we wish we could’ve lingered here longer, among all the locals selling their wares on spread out on fraying blankets. junk, trinkets, and treasures side by side. i was especially enamored with all the old typewriters and box cameras. if i lived in athens, i’d probably come to the flea market every weekend and collect way too many treasures. it was a sight.
it was close to 11 by the time we were out of the flea market, so we rushed to the parliment building just in time to catch the changing of the guard. i was entertained by the traditional outfits of the guards, and there was also a marching band playing down the main street. david got some great photos of the scene.
then we were off on a lengthy journey to retrieve our bags, taking one metro to another (with long, unexpected delays in between rattling our nerves) to the airport, where we arrived late, but thankfully there was no problem in checking in and getting to our gate in time. then, we were off to barcelona! it was a budget airline with the most cramped seats i’ve ever seen, but it was the cheapest way to get to our destination, so no complaints. we checked into our roomy flat (on the 4th floor in an ancient building in the barri gotic neighborhood), then went out to meet a friend of david’s from college. they showed us around a bit and introduced us to tapas at a local restaurant. we had an amazing dinner and a great start to what has become one of my favorite cities.