Last June my girlfriends and I travelled to Greece for a 10-day trip. If you have never been to Greece before – you need to go! We had been talking about going for a while… and last year a few were turning the big 4-0. So, we thought, what the hell – let’s go to Greece! The first stop was, Athens!
We booked an excellent Air Canada vacation package (Cycladic Discovery) that included four stops: Athens, Mykonos, Naxos and Santorini. The package took care of all the logistics, airfare, transfers, breakfast and hotels. Our only task was to figure out what we wanted to see each day (which isn’t hard for a group of A-type personalities). But, if you’re the type who likes a bunch of pre-organized tours every day, this isn’t the package for you.
The first stop was Athens. Which kind of reminded me of any big city really, but with a more historical edge to it.
Where we stayed
We stayed at Athenian Callirhoe hotel. It was in a very central location, walking distance to all of the sites. It had a cute rooftop bar, which had stunning views of the Parthenon at night. The rooms were small (as most European hotels are), and the elevator even smaller. But, all in all. It was a lovely hotel, and the free breakfast buffet was great as well.
What we saw
So, as I mentioned, Athens was very similar to any big city and no water views that we saw. We booked two walking tours through With Locals. The first one was an Athens nightlife tour, which we did the first night we arrived. The second one was a city/market tour, but unfortunately, the tour host got sick and had to cancel. Despite the cancellation, I strongly recommend With Locals. They have an app that you can use to communicate with your tour guide directly, and the prices are very reasonable.
The Parthenon was built in 477 B.C., it was a temple dedicated to the Greek goddess Athenia. It sits high above the city in a compound of temples known as the acropolis. The day that we walked up to the Parthenon was HOT! We all looked quite cute that day, but by the time we got to the top, we were all a hot, sweaty mess lol. My advice is to bring water in a non-plastic bottle (as they do not allow) and wear comfortable shoes. The views of the city from the acropolis were terrific – so it was definitely worth the walk.
The National Garden
The Athens National Garden was named in 1920 to honour Amalia of Greece. The entrance has a picturesque view of 12 palms that she planted. The street in front of the garden was renamed Queen Amalia Avenue. It is estimated that the Gardens are home to over 7,000 trees and several thousand plants. Many of the trees were planted more than 100 years ago.
Monastiraki Flea Market
There are quite a few markets in Athens. But, since we were only there for two days, we went to the Monastiraki flea market. It had cobblestone streets lined with many little shops, selling food, snacks, trinkets and souvenirs. I am pretty sure that we bought all of our “Greek” souvenirs from this market. In the area surrounding the market, there were so many beautiful churches and buildings that just made it that more picturesque.
On Sundays at 11am they have a special ceremony in Syntagma square for the changing of the guards. Unfortunately, we weren’t there on a Sunday. But we did get to see the guards change on Saturday as they change every hour.
What we ate
I’ll be honest. I don’t really remember the names of the places that we ate. But, I do remember that almost everything we ate was delicious. We fell in love with the cheese (too bad I’m vegan now). Xinomizithra cheese that usually was on the Dalkos salad (this is one of the best salads I have EVER had). There was also Tirokafteri which was a spicy cheese. I also discovered in Athens that I didn’t like Ouzo… but Raki wasn’t too bad, and most restaurants served it as an after-dinner treat (for free).
The next stop on our Greece trip was Mykonos, it had some of the most stunning views sea views I’ve ever seen. Stayed tuned for our post about Mykonos.