I had the distinct pleasure of visiting Greece for my annual Fall vacation.
We' had been preparing for this trip for months. I got advice from previous visitors, Greek natives and avid travelers. Not to mention the many blogs I read about visiting Greece. Go here, not there, stay here for this reason, do this, not that.
Finally, I HAD TO STOP. We were to Athens and Santorini. I created a list of places that would in our path. We would just wing it.
There is so much to cover, I will break up the posts. First, lets talk about Athens.
We arrived in Greece about 6:30pm and it was JUMPIN. We heard that Athens had New York energy but didnt know what to expect. The Athens Metro took us from the airport to Monastraki station, a 10 minute walk from where we were staying, Fresh Hotel.
We dropped our bags & headed out for food.
I have some serious travel stamina. When I’m in a new city, adrenaline keeps my energy on 100 so i’m always ready to bounce around. I could barely sleep that night. I was so anxious to see more.
We ended up at an open courtyard that a bunch restaurants serve. Everyone was eating, drinking & smoking cigarettes. We ordered a spinach pie, chicken pie, a dry white and a beer. After 2 plane rides with the worst turbulence I’ve ever experienced, this was so comforting.
The next morning, we had a Greek continental breakfast at the hotel. TAH! Aint nothing continental bout this breakfast. The buffet included everything from veggies to eggs to Greek yogurt and and fresh honey comb. I dont know how I will go back to American yogurt and honey. I’m completely ruined!
After breakfast, we climbed up to The Acropolis. Yes CLIMB. To get to the top, we marched up steep cobblestone in the Greek sun. It was hot but my hair still flew in the wind. Edges were still in tact! THAT ALONE DESERVES A PRAISE DANCE!
The views were absolutely stunning. Our feet walked the paths of people of the Neolithic area. Something we’ve only read about in books.
Roughly 15,000 steps later, we stumbled on a hill of cafés and decided to post up for a break.
I couldnt wait to taste on grilled octopus. It was served pickled veggies and topped with olive oil. I ordered a dry Greek white. The server thanked us for stopping by, with 2 shots of Grappa.
We continued to walk and came across some shops. For some reason there was an unlimited amount of wooden penises.
No pun intended LOL! Penis+bottle opener. A win win.
After googling, this is the only logical explanation I found:
Because of an ancient festivity in ancient Athene: the Dionysia, a celebration to the god Dionysus, god of wine and party's (and more stuff like acting n shit). It took 5 days and on 3 of them were big plays held which could be seen by anyone who was at that moment in Athene. At one day there were played 3 pieces of tragedy and one fun play to keep the public enthusiastic. And during that play the actors used enlarged penisses to make fun with! And that's probably one of the reasons why.
After about 30 more minutes of walking, we came up on a destination at the top of my list, Hotel Grand Bretagne. I was told this hotel had the best views in Athens and boy was that accurate. We made it just in time for the sunset.
Hotel Grande Bretagne
After a glass of Greek Syrah on the Grand Bretagne rooftop bar, we headed to the cigar lounge on the first floor. Our drinks and cigar was accompanied with dates, apricots, chocolate coins and cheese sticks. Jazz played in the background while we sat in the elegant indoor/outdoor courtyard.
Our day ended at the Fresh hotel rooftop for food and a final drink. This happened to be the best Souvlaki I’ve ever had. The chicken was flavored perfectly and the pita bread was made with cornmeal with the perfect chew. Fries seasoned with salt & herbs with a side of creamy tzatziki. It was glorious!
Athens was fast and flavorful from the wine to the food. I mostly drank Greek mystery grapes, which was their table wine. It surpassed American house wine by far. The food was so fresh, I can see why my brother still has an issue with American calamari since visiting Greece. The air was crisp and cool. The sun was delightful. We spent 90% of our time outside.
Even though Athens was fast, there was a peaceful pause that the US doesn’t have. Coffee in Europe is as serious as wine or even more important. In Greece, they chatted over coffee more than any other beverage. Day or night. And they sipped slow. Thats one major take-away from this trip. Slow down to pause. Slow down to appreciate the small pleasures, where it be the Fall leaves or a sun rise.
Stay tuned for more on Greece.
Vine Me Up