Travel Throwback: Athens
Travel Throwback is a series of blog posts based on a 10-day Mediterranean cruise that I took with Mike, my mom, and my brother aboard the Celebrity Equinox back in August of 2011. Back then I wasn’t blogging about my travel but luckily I kept a journal and took a LOT of pictures and I can’t wait to share!
August 22, 2011
Time to mark another country off my bucket list-today we’re in Athens, Greece! You would never in a million years guess it if you saw me, but I’m actually 50% Greek. Growing up I never learned the Greek language, but I knew how to count and I knew a few choice phrases. Prior to our cruise I decided I wanted to learn a little more so I purchased Rosetta Stone. Luckily for me I already knew the Greek alphabet, otherwise learning Greek has that additional challenge, but learning any language is not easy and it requires a lot of time. I was pretty dedicated for a couple months but then life happened and I didn’t get much farther than “The tall girl runs”. Why am I telling you about this? Well, as we were walking around the Plaka neighborhood in Athens, I whipped out some of my new language skills to ask how to get to a particular place, and the shopkeeper replied in English! Bottom line: if you’re traveling to tourist areas of Greece, you don’t need to know the language to get by!
So…onto Athens! The key sights for us at this stop were the Acropolis and the Parthenon, so we chose a basic tour through the cruise ship that just bused us near the Acropolis and then left us to our own sightseeing. Aside from the blue domed churches of Santorini, I think one of the images that people most associate with Greece is the Parthenon. The Parthenon has been undergoing a restoration effort for quite some time now so unfortunately our views of this ancient temple were a bit marred by all the scaffolding (and the throngs of people), but we were definitely still able to appreciate it’s beauty, and the beauty of the other temples on the Acropolis. The views from the Acropolis are also pretty impressive.
After getting our fair share of the Acropolis we headed down the hill to Pláka, a historical neighborhood in Athens where you’ll find tons of touristy shops and restaurants. We browsed the shops, picked up a few olive tree serving spoons, Mike and my brother pretended they were Spartan warriors, and then we headed to one of the open-air restaurants nearby. This was our first taste of Greek food in Greece and the Pastitsio definitely did not disappoint!
After lunch we boarded our bus to head back to the port, with one quick stop at the old Olympic Stadium from the 1896 Olympics. There really wasn’t a whole lot to see there and driving through Athens and back to the port was a bit depressing; there seemed to be tons of graffiti everywhere and a lot of people living on the streets. This was back in 2011, I can’t imagine what it must be like now with all the financial difficulties Greece has been dealing with.
I was very happy that Athens was included in our trip because I feel like you can’t visit Greece without seeing the Parthenon! I will say, though, that Athens probably wouldn’t be my first (or second) choice of cities to return to when I find my way back to Greece. I think a couple days in Athens would be all you need-save the rest of your time for the beautiful Greek Isles!