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Athens, Greece - Warm People, Incredible History and oh the food!

I started thinking I would share about our entire adventure in Greece but I realized that there is so much to discuss, I should probably focus on Athens to start. I've lived in quite a few places in my life and have also felt at home in some places I've only visited but I wasn't prepared to feel like that in Athens. The intinerary of our trip was such that we spent the first 3 nights in the city, left to explore Delphi and the Peloponnese for a week and returned for a final night. As we drove back towards the capital, we all felt like we were headed home. We're not Greek and we don't even speak the language so it surprised us that not only did we love the city and all it had to offer but it felt like we belonged there.

First of all we rented the most glorious (and yet very affordable) Airbnb I'd yet to stay in. It was comfortable and homey with a huge sectional couch that my family of four could lounge on and stare out at the most spectacular view of the Acropolis imaginable. There was a wraparound deck with stunning views of the archaeological site as well as into the Acropolis Museum across the street. At night, we could lounge after an exhausting, exhilarating exploration through history and just gaze at the ruins in our jammies.

The first night we had decided to dine really locally as we were tired and it was pouring rain. We were in an area adjacent to the Plaka but there were many authentic places to eat. We wandered into a restaurant down the block and were treated like royalty. When the proprietor found out it was our first meal of the trip, he decided we needed to try it all. Dish after dish of incredible greek delicacies were brought out to our table. We all agreed after the first round that we could be vegetarians if the food were prepared like this - veggies had never tasted so good! Horiatiki salad with the yummiest tomatoes, olives and feta on the planet, succulent Dolmadakia (grape leaves), then onto Saganaki, a delectable fried cheese. Next came the mains of moussaka and pastitsio and don't even get me started on the baklava for dessert! We were starting to worry that we were spending a small fortune as we'd left the menu in the hands of our delightful host but it was quite reasonable considering. We rolled ourselves 2 minutes home and watched the awe inspiring, ever changing vista unfold before us.

So the people were amazing, the food insanely delicious - now it was time for the sights. The accessibility to what Athens has to offer is too good to be true. We of course climbed up to the Acropolis, passing the Theatre of Dionysus and then taking in the Parthenon, the Erechtheum and the Temple of Athena Nike. We always choose to partake in an audio tour to ensure we have as much context as possible for what we're seeing. The past was brought to life as we enjoyed the views of modern Athens from above. We eventually made our way down the other side in order to hit our next stop, the Ancient Agora - I love a good agora! Ruins and usually plenty of cats are just what I need for a successful day of sightseeing. Again donning our earbuds for an audio tour, we wandered the site and museum.

Once we were finished at the Agora, we made our way to the central market. Now our plan had been to make it there for lunch but we'd worked up quite an appetite so decided to hit Slovaki Row on our way. Boy were we glad we did! The wonderful meat and Tzatziki wrap was just what the doctor ordered and the market wasn't quite like any food market we'd ever been to! The sights, smells and sounds were intense and while I'm sure any chef on the planet would have been in heaven with the supplies of fresh meat, seafood, spices and veg, we were glad we'd already eaten. I absolutely love taking in the places that we just don't have at home. Making memories!

After the potent central market, we strolled back towards our neighborhood through the fabulous Plaka. The heart of which are Kydathineon and Adrianou streets and although the central artery for tourists, it's still a delight of shops and restaurants with friendly proprietors. There's a lot of the same stuff sold along the way but some treasures to be found and surely a souvenir trinket or two.

The next day we hopped in a cab to head to the National Archaeology Museum. With our amazing audio guide we did roughly 2 hours touring through 7000 years of Greek art and antiquity. It was wonderful to get a preview of Mycenaean finds and artifacts as well as those from Epidavros as we were heading to those sights later in the week. The mask of Agamemnon was fabulous and

sprinkled throughout the museum were very moving photos of the artifacts and statues being buried in the basement of the museum for their protection during World War II.

Later that afternoon after we returned via cab, I was determined to find the neighborhood of Anafiotika. It wasn't the easiest to locate but we were so glad we did! It’s completely white washed and blue shingled to remind its inhabitants of their original island home and of course it’s full of cats! Tucked right up under the acropolis, we climbed the steep hills to get into the twisting lanes but it was worth it to have the expansive views back out over the city. Another magical experience in Athens.

We were headed out of the city the next day for a week of staying in and exploring Delphi and onto the Peloponnese where we visited Mycenae and Epidavros from our base in Nafplio. We'll save those adventures for another day! We did enjoy Syntagma Square when we returned to Athens the night before our flight home but I look forward to calling the Acropolis (or Makrigianni) neighborhood home any time I return, which I plan to do...often!

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