After a 30 minute flight from Naxos, we checked into the Herodion Hotel, which I chose because of its ideal location, comfortable accommodations, and beautiful roof deck. The fifth floor of the hotel offers a spectacular view of the Parthenon, along with sweeping views of the city itself. There were many chairs and ample shade, so one could go and enjoy the scenery at any time of day in comfort.
While we were only in Athens for a day and a half, I think we saw more sites and covered more ground then most people could do in at least double our time. I literally mapped our most logical route through the city, marking museums, sites, boutiques, and restaurants which could not be missed.
Even though we arrived to our hotel in the late afternoon, we were determined to visit the Acropolis before sunset. Late afternoon happens to be an idea time to visit the Acropolis, as the heat isn’t as extreme and the light is some of the best for photography. Embarrassingly, we rode the Happy Train and briefly toured the Plaka before disembarking at the Acropolis stop. While the Acropolis itself is a collection of structures dating back to the 432BC, the monument is best known for the Parthenon, built by Pericles in the fifth century BC. The Acropolis was one of the most beautiful sites I had ever seen, and it was surreal knowing that I was standing in history dating back thousands of years. Unfortunately, age and pollution have taken a tole on the Acropolis, and many parts of the sites have been replaces with replica casts. However, one can view many of the original pieces at the new Acropolis Museum, which we JUST missed the opening of! Disappointing to say the least, but I guess we’ll just have to go back!
Another attraction not to be missed while in Athens is the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. The museum has been renovated and expanded as of late, which expands the already overwhelming collection of artifacts including Neolithic, Cycladic, Mycenaean, and even Egyptian. I really wish I brushed up on my Western Civilization courses from high school before I visited the museum, as I think I would have better appreciated the artifacts if I were more familiar with the history surrounding them.
Seeing Europeans are so fashion forward and stylish, I was determined to buy at least one article of clothing while in Greece. Athens’ version of Boston’s Newbury Street is the neighborhood of Kolonaki, which is home to posh boutiques, upscale cafes, and some of the best people watching in Greece. While I wanted to purchase something uber-Euro, I really can’t pull off the European-chic look. However, I found a few fashionable and functional Rouge Paris at 134 Patision. We also had our best meal in Kolonaki at Prytaneion; top notch service, best patio dining and people watching, and most importantly, the food was absolutely spectacular. We split their Greek Salad, as well as Shrimp with Ziti and Brocolli. While these dishes don’t sound like anything out of the ordinary (especially when in Greece!), the portions were HUGE, ingredients were incredibly fresh, and the presentation was beautiful.
The rest of our time in Athens was spent exploring the different neighborhoods of the city, wandering, and window shopping. We walked through the National Garden of Athens, which was a beautiful oasis in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the city. We spent every evening in the Plaka, a picturesque neighborhood filled with jewelry stores and tavernas. On the advice of a jewelry store owner, we dined on the roof deck of Taverna tou Psara, followed by drinks at Brettos, a tiny bar once home to Athens oldest distillery. Now, the bar is decorated oak barrels and hundreds of multicolored glass bottles. Their cocktail menu offers a large selection of traditional Greek cocktails, as well as margaritas, martinis, and mojitos!
Our final days in Athens were a surprisingly pleasurable time and a great way to end our trip to Greece. While I can envision Athens being slight unbearable during the summer months due to the extreme heat, pollution, and city grime, we had a fabulous city experience that I would highly recommend for a Greek Isle finale!