Ancient Athens (Sept. 15-17)

The Acropolis

The Acropolis 

After going on a solo dinner date (pita and tzatziki, a stuffed tomato, a zucchini patty and moussaka) and making a few friends during my first night in Athens, I woke up semi-refreshed (reminder: I went to bed at 6:30 am on my last night in Bulgaria) and joined my eighth walking tour of the trip through my hostel. We hit up most of the main sites of Athens – mostly ruins of the ancient city – and stopped at an open square for our break, where I bought a kilo of green grapes for €1 and a souvlaki. They were the best grapes I’d ever had (a phrase Europeans like to make fun of us Americans for saying, but it’s true), freshly-picked and perfectly sweet and tangy and juicy, and I ate pretty much the entire kilo over the last hour and a half of the tour, sharing some of them with a few of my new friends from the tour.

Great view of the Acropolis

Great view of the Acropolis

We ended our tour outside of the Acropolis Museum, but my group opted to grab a meal with each other before heading in. We found a small, off-the-path family-owned restaurant whose friendly owner gave us a few free bites. We shared all of our plates and barely spent any money on all of it, a traveler’s success. I would be eating nothing but Greek food for days and days, but this was not a bad thing.

Temple of Olympian Zeus

Temple of Olympian Zeus

After lunch, we stopped at the Acropolis Museum for about an hour to get some background on the Acropolis. The museum has gathered most of the old sculptures that were looted from the Acropolis, but I didn’t realize this until watching a film at the very end of the museum that explained the history and architecture. We sat down for coffee at the museum, where some little kids ran chased each other around and around and forced a memorable frown on one of the waitresses. It started raining, so we paid our bill and ran home under the awnings of the main street of Athens. We would meet again when the rain had stopped.

Watching the sun set from the Acropolis

Watching the sunset from the Acropolis

At about 6:30 in a cloud and rain-free sky, we all met back up and headed up to the Acropolis to watch the sun set. We took a lot of pictures and got yelled at a few times – once for sitting on the ledge, once for taking a jumping photo (not my idea but it turned out cute) and once because it was time to leave. The views of the sunset were stunning, and the Acropolis was impressive after our short history lesson at the museum.

Greek militia taking down the flag

Greek militia taking down the flag

We headed from our sunset viewing to another delicious Greek dinner at some Trip Advisor recommended restaurant. The Trip Advisor stickers are generally pretty reliable signs of a good stop, and we again split all of our food – meatballs with the most incredible tomato sauce, saganaki (fried cheese), Greek salad (which does not include lettuce and tastes much better that way – the tomatoes in this area of the world are ridiculously good), vegetable pies (more like egg rolls), stuffed mushrooms, wine (of course) and probably more things that I don’t remember. It was a great meal with a great group and only cost €9 per person to split everything. After, the group went shopping while two of us headed for ice cream and back to the hostel, getting massively lost on the way. I went to sleep early, having to wake up at 5 in the morning to catch my ferry to Santorini. It was a struggle to find a ferry, and I had to change some of my original route and hostel plans to get out of Athens and get to the islands.

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