Our First Days in Athens

As the last days of our time in Nicaragua faded we were looking at options on where to go next. I had seen enough of South and Central America that I wanted to see something different. We were thinking Spain or Portugal as they are generally cheap destinations – budget travel, remember? Our family meeting ended with general agreement to go to Greece (although one voted to go home – take a guess!) and what a smart decision it was! The only funny part was the cheapest airfare to get there was routing through Toronto so we spent three days in rainy/cold Toronto to replenish some necessities, meet up with my brother Don, and get ready for a long flight to Greece.

The Goddess Athena

The Metro

Taking the metro is pretty easy from the airport although it costs about the same as a taxi for a family of five. A single metro ticket from the airport is 10Euros for an adult and 5Euros for a child (up to the age of 18) so it was 35Euros one way. The only downside is the constant reminders to be vigilant of pickpockets. The ride was pretty straight forward from the airport to Monastiraki and then it was a second train to our apartment. The second train was really crowded but we made it no problem.

At the Airport Metro terminal. We decided that using the metro early on would prepare us for daily use.
The airport metro stops at Monastiraki station (a central hub) that is downtown. We took the metro to our rented apartment.

Our Apartment (okay we rented it)

We lucked out with VRBO and got a 2 bedroom penthouse apartment (8th floor) near the Agios Eleftherios metro stop.

A neighbour with Greek pride. Actually many of the apartments had Greek flags flying.
View of the Acropolis from our balcony
The Living Room
Ben was more interested in playing Yugi-Oh than going site-seeing. I had the opportunity to sample some beer while playing.

First Dinner in Greece

The owner of the apartment and his property manager both recommended that we eat at Martini’s for traditional Greek food at a decent price. They were right, it was fabulous!

Greek Salad, Red Wine, Tzatziki
Fried Cheese, olives, tomatoes and fresh bread
Grilled Meat platter – chicken, sausage, pork chops, and meatballs with potatoes
Walking around the neighbourhood
Headed to the Grocery Store

Walking into the Centre of Athens

The Temple of Zeus

Built over a 600 year period starting in 6th Century BC, the Temple of Zeus with 104 colossal columns, stands in ruins as one of the largest Greek temples ever created. Destroyed in the third century during a barbarian invasion and never repaired. Much of the stone work was re-used for other projects.

The Temple of Zeus
Main Pillars of the Temple of Zeus
The Temple of Zeus from Hadrian’s Arch

Hadrian’s Arch

Located beside the Temple of Zeus the Arch is in honour of the Roman Emperor Hadrian who helped re-establish Athens as a major city in the 2nd Century AD.

Hadrian’s Arch with the Acropolis and the Flag of Greece in the background
The full Arch – beside the Temple of Zeus and looking towards the Acropolis

The Gyro – Our GO TO food

We found a family restaurant called Smile that offers good food. The waitress was a very friendly woman with relatives in Toronto so she took a shine to us (okay to Ben) and they made amazing Gyro sandwiches. They were so good that it became our new staple food. Sort of like Tacos in Nicaragua.

Gyro (pronounced HEERO) has pork with tzatziki, tomatoes, onions, and French fried potatoes
Awesome plate of awesomeness with a beer
Another shot of the Gyro because it is so darned good!

The National Gardens

Spring Flowers in bloom
The best way to describe the flowers in bloom – The stink of beauty – the smell was so over-powering it was difficult to enjoy
Sitting under a pergola with a Vine covered roof
The floors in full bloom

The Sentries at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider

The relief for the sentries march out a side gate of Parliament down the sidewalk. They have a very unique marching style that is very difficult to emulate.
The senior man is in the front and the two sentries that will be posted follow behind.
The senior man is in the middle and the two sentries flank him. Note the NCO in field uniform that acts as a security escort. He will also inspect the sentries once they are posted.
Picture Greek dancers in slow motion. It is the only way to describe their movements to replace the existing sentries.
They slap and scrape the pavement with each movement
The new Sentries take position moving in slow time
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
The Old and New Sentries salute
Part Two of the Salute
The Old Sentries march off

The Academy of Athens

This modern academy was established in 1926 designed by Theophil Hanasen. The statues were made by Leenides Drosis. The original was founded in 387 by Plato.

Beautifully carved building with elements of Classical Greek symbols
The Owl – a symbol of Athena and by extension the symbol of Athens
The owl perched on top of the Academy building
The Philosopher Socrates with the God Apollo in the background
The philosopher Plato under the watchful eye of Athena
The Academy of Athens main building
The beautiful Athena – Goddess of War
The Griffon adorns the rooftops of the National Conference Centre
A symbol of Greece

A day of walking about Athens

A first glimpse of the Acropolis
The prison of Socrates – used in the Second World War to store Greek antiquities then covered over in cement to hide from the Germans.
Standing in front of the prison of Socrates
Hannah and Emma stand in front of the prison of Socrates
The Poppy was in spectacular bloom throughout Greece
Bells outside a 16th century Church of Agios Dimitrios Loumbardiaris
Church of Agios Dimitrios Loumbardiaris which was saved destruction when the cannon about to fire on it was destroyed by lightning.
Ben peers into the ancient Church
Church of Agios Dimitrios Loumbardiaris dating from the 16th Century
A great photo of Hannah and Emma
The Parthenon
Hannah poses with a beautiful door that is a mixture of iron and glass
The flowers are in full bloom
Beautiful streets with a mixture of graffiti
Stairs leading to some beautiful houses
Greece is full of graffiti – some of it is artful and much of it is just a blight
Beautiful vine
Statue near Krematarios
Which way do we go? I dunno it’s all Greek to me!
St Mary’s Church
The Observatory
A monastery in the distance
The Acropolis
Another shot of the Church
The Observatory
Lemons growing along the street
Whitewashed building

The Ancient Agora

Built in 6th century BC the Agora is a place of commerce, gathering and learning. Much of the site remains in the heart of the city under the Acropolis.

Image on the Temple of the Wind
The Agora
Another image on the Temple of the Wind
The Temple of the Wind in the Ancient Agora
Emma and the Ancient Agora
Church in the Ancient Agora
Archway in the Ancient Agora
Temple of the Wind and the Acropolis in the distance
The streets of Athens
The ruins of the Ancient Agora
Church of the Pantanassa from the 12th Century
Church of the Pantanassa in Monastiraki square

End of the Day

Our days ended with a beautiful view of the sunset and a cold beer followed by dinner on the patio.

One of the many varieties of beer in Athens

4 Replies to “Our First Days in Athens”

  1. Beautiful pictures as usual. I’ve enjoyed following you along this year and I’m wondering what will I do when you do return to home. Lol. Will you go back to normal life after this or do you see more slow travel in your future?

    1. Nancy,

      Thanks very much! We’ll be keeping the blog alive until we are full caught up which will take some time being a slow traveller. As for “What’s next?” That is the question we ask ourselves daily.


  2. Well, that must have been something to see. I am surprised you got in without a beard. Seems it was the fashions thousands of years ago. Learn anything from Plato?
    Do the guards really swing there arms above the shoulder? Must have been a General who saw the British swing there arms at shoulder height and said, “we can do better!” What Generals can’t do.
    Ok, Lots of history, and no doubt very interesting but the highlight must have been the gyros. Who would have thought to put French Fries inside a Gyro? This is absolute genius. Greece glory days are not over yet.
    Well done on the pics.

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