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Monday
Jun062011

Wanderer Of The World: Athens, Greece

Would you like to hear a little story that involves a day at a goddess' palace, getting lost atop a mount 5,000 miles from home and people watching from a graffiti-covered stoop?

Well, good, because I just happen to have one of those.

Greg and I are back from our trip to Greece, although still a bit red-eyed and jet-lagged. We spent a whopping 24 hours in Athens and then went on to Santorini {with a couple quick peeks in between at the islands of Milos and Folegandros}.

After an overnight flight we landed in Athens early in the morning, our eyes and limbs still heavy with travel, but excited to begin meandering around the Mediterranean oasis latched alongside the Aegean Sea. Our yellow Mercedes Benz taxi whirred us through the outskirts of Athens. Plats of flat land rolled up into hills, alternating between shades of green and brown. Orange, fig and olive trees dotted the landscape, leaving you with the urge to reach your hand out the window to line your palm with a bit of the country's fruitful spoils. The houses were unassuming, plain and sparsely spread out, but all of the nuts and bolts of life were present among the simple structures - clothes batting in the wind on a line, spearmint-green gardens plump and well kept.

As we pulled into downtown Athens I noticed the monotone-colored, stout buildings with thinly-paned windows were clearly built for purpose, not prestige. No skyscrapers. No doormen. The city was crowded and dusty. The air smelled of old-world spices. Everything felt decidedly ancient, unpolished since the days of cradling the infancy of democracy, including the people. Their faces bore deep lines and their skin was tanned and tough like leather. But behind their steely gray eyes you could almost feel the power of the stories they held. The wise keepers of Greek mythology.

We quickly turned our gaze to the tippy top of the city's mountains, where you could really see how thick history is caked onto Athens.

The Acropolis. 

Greg and I hiked our way up to the top. Confession: We first got lost on an abandoned street where a slow-moving shopkeeper attempted to sell us a woven blanket. And then in a kind Greek woman's backyard filled with chickens. And then on a twisty staircase where we got rained on.

But we made it.

We looked at ruins. We marveled at the mystery behind the marble columns. We sat on rocks older than our minds could fathom. It was interesting to see the dichotomy of centuries old architecture bellied up beside a city now glazed with graffiti.

For the remainder of the day I was itching to lose myself on the skewed, criss-crossing streets of Athens. So we ducked into a back alley and headed for the hub of life - the market.

We were swept into a wave of locals. There were baskets of fresh nuts and beans and dried fruits and gnarled bulbs of garlic. There were stalls of fish on ice and hunks of meat stacked like pieces of grisly red candy. Almost everyone we met spoke English.

At this point we were pretty much running on fumes, so we decided to pack up our list of tourist to dos and head back to our hotel. We chose the Fresh Hotel, which has a surprisingly mod feel for being in a place so thoroughly steeped in the past. The rooftop had a restaurant, pool and outdoor seating area which had amazing views. Like this one...

We sipped on rose martinis and toasted to being in a city fit for a goddess, under the glow of our dinner companion - the Parthenon.

At midnight we slipped out of our hotel for one last walk and stumbled into a floral district. The air was sticky and sweet. Piles of poppies and irises and jasmine were everywhere. Only 24 hours in Athens and we still had time to stop and smell the roses.

P.S. Stay tuned for Santorini pics tomorrow. Hint: It's stunningly beautiful.

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Reader Comments (4)

Wow! What amazing pictures. I am very jealous that you got to go to Greece - I hope I can make it over there one day. Can't wait to see more photos from your trip.

Just beautiful!!

June 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFrenchGirlRN

Loved reading this! And the pictures are simply breathtaking. I am Greek (Canadian-Greek!) and we used to spend every second summer in Greece. I haven't taken my children yet - my youngest is only three - but we'll making the journey back next summer for sure. I miss SO much about Greece - I have so many fantastic memories of Athens, the islands, and the cities my family are from. :) Looks like you had a great time!

June 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLoukia

Every time I think about a great escape, Greece always pops in my head. Who wouldn't want to see all these breathtaking views from your hotel window? Yeah, talk about a well-deserved R&R.

February 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJacob Beaty

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