travels

Midwest Mermaid Goes Greek

Monday, March 28, 2016


Well, it's certainly taken me long enough.

In May it will be one year since I left for my Europe trip.  It was nothing short of amazing (if you read my Italy blog, it'll update you on the first leg of the trip), but our time in Athens, Greece was my favorite.   The photo above is my friends and I on top of Mount Lycabettus, arguably my very favorite moment of the entire trip.

A lot of work goes into my travel posts, so I'm glad I finally got around to posting this!  I knew I would eventually, but I struggle with wanting things to be perfect and not having the time.  And to think I still need to write a third for Turkey, yikes!  

I should probably just jump right in!

We immediately hopped off our plane from Rome into warmer weather, thank God.  The weather in Italy was pretty dreary, to be honest.  Sunny Athens was just as I had pictured our summer trip to be.  Long story short, Greece is mostly mountains.  We saw a lot of 'em.  Even stood on top of one, as I mentioned before.  Our first guide was actually from Madison and moved to Greece when she was 21!  She had stayed there happily for the last 20 years.

Our first day was spent walking around, getting sunburned, and very, very, hungry. Not to say it wasn't worth it because it totally was.  We got settled in the Pan Hotel (in the city's center) and then ran around the corner to get the quickest food we could find.  It ended up being souvlaki from a tiny little restaurant where the owner asked my classmate if I was his wife.  I thought he was kidding.


Pretty sure I devoured this in about .5 seconds because I was absolutely starving.  I actually spent most of this trip awaiting my next meal.  We were allotted a 20 minute lunch break for this one...  Needless to say, we were constantly on-the-go.

First, our new guide took us through the contemporary markets and the Plaka.
Our tour through the fish market mostly consisted of us ladies being loudly holla'd at by every guy in the whole place.


I didn't buy any underwater creatures or crustaceans if you were wondering.  I bet they were really fresh though!  But where would I have kept them?

Next we walked past some of the most impressive displays of olives I've ever seen.  Which makes sense, seeing as it is Greece.  Have you heard the story of Athena and the olive tree?  Google it.  I definitely stocked up on olive oil while I was there.  Also notable:  Tons of fresh fruit & veggies.

Look at this dude watching me taking pics of his olive crop.


We went to the Ancient Agora which was basically the center of the political scene in the olden days.  Funny that before I got there, I had my info a little mixed up and thought we'd see all kinds of action...  The Ancient Agora is ruins and artifacts.  Very ancient with zero action, except for our own presence there, of course.  Usually I like that historic stuff, unless I'm hungry.  Which I was.

Great views though!


After that, they set us free.  Hailey, Kailey, and I set off in search of margaritas, which is something I would never ask for again in Greece.


You'd think that lime, tequila, and blended ice would be enough for a margarita?  It isn't.  When we ordered, he did little to hide his look of concern, which did little to help my concern.  

Whatever our "margaritas" ended up being, they were necessary after the day we had.  This was the cutest little coffee shop/drink spot, though!  It was super close to our hotel, so we stopped there at least a few times for their delicious salads.

Our last stop of the day required a super long and exhausting hike up a mountain to see the best view of the city - Mount Lycabettus.  From what I've heard, you can take some type of transportation up the hill, but I'm glad we walked it.  I can thank my sudden surge of energy for that.  If you're in Greece and want a great view of the sunset, Mount Lycabettus is the place to be.

Halfway up.

On the top of the mountain, a few of us met a couple from San Francisco who had quit their jobs on January 1st to travel the world.  They had just finished Asia and I totally want to be them.

After watching the sunset, I proceeded to walk home and fall directly to sleep.  
Right after Instagramming that sweet pic of our shoes.



The next day, besides the Acropolis, I met the frappe.  As the huge coffee lover that I am, I am just as big a fan of the frappe.  This isn't your run-of-the-mill Starbucks frappucino, or dare I say it, the McDonald's frappe...seeing as it actually tastes like coffee.  That's the best part.  Super strong, barely sweetened (unless you prefer it sweet), and frothy AF.

I tried to order one at a Greek restaurant around here and LET ME TELL YOU - not the same.


But you know me, coffee drinker by day, wine aficionado by night.


There's nothing better than going out for drinks (a few rounds of sangria) and being offered endless chips and sandwiches.  You read that right, SANDWICHES.  Apparently in Greece it's unusual to go out just for a few drinks, it's always accompanied by food, because logic.  Well, we didn't really believe that to be true at first, but when we kept ordering drinks they kept rolling out the free food.  When we thanked them and asked why, they said they just wanted us to have a good time.  I'm wasn't complaining because at that point a sandwich sounded like perfection.

The next day, we traveled a couple hours to Mycenae to visit some of the most beautiful landscapes I've ever seen.


And my favorite little seaport town, Nafplio.


And the Great Theatre of Epidaurus, where you can sit all the way up in the nosebleeds and still hear someone whispering from all the way at the bottom!  Although they're really picky about how many songs they allow you to sing down there...apparently it disturbs other guests.


And we of course had to take a quick look at the bar scene...


But my favorite day in Athens was our free day.

It started out pretty normal.  Sightseeing, a little shopping at the Plaka, lunch (chicken gyros if you were wondering)...


Nice and sunny, eh?  But then the unexpected happened.

I'll start out by saying that Athens rarely sees rain.


This was a photo we had taken by the hotel concierge when we got back from our day of shopping.  I figured it would be explained best if I paired it with my Facebook caption that accompanied it on that very day:

"It doesn't rain much in Athens, but when it rains, it pours. Today Kailey, Hailey, and I went to The Plaka for shopping. At our last jewelry store, we stepped outside...instant downpour. We waited it out for a couple minutes and hopped in a taxi. He kicked us out because it was a private cab. The next one we jumped in kicked us out because he was headed in a different direction. We waited by the side of the road for a while to plan our next steps where we watched a pigeon almost drown. Finally, some guy let us follow him on the metro towards our hotel. Without him we probably would have ended up back in Italy or something. Then we realized Kailey had hives and they were quickly spreading all over her body. We finally made it off the metro and THANKFULLY the rain subsided -__- Now we're back safe and sound at the Pan Hotel...and Kailey still has hives."

While we were waiting by the side of the road for the rain to die down, we asked some guys if it rained like this often in Athens.  He literally said, "Never."  Figures.

It was a long day.  But seriously one of the most exciting experiences I had on our trip!

We napped and then were ready for action.


Some would say we clean up well.

But sadly, that little incident and the dinner that followed marked the end of our time in Athens.  Not so sadly, we had a Grecian cruise and another country to look forward to.

So if you enjoyed this little Greek photo round-up, stay tuned for the rest of my trip.

Again, here's the link to my video on the trip.  See all the fun had during the Greek leg of the trip, even that poor little bird that almost drowned in the monsoon!
https://youtu.be/zUmOhqnpfB8

But until next time,


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