Athens

At the base of the Acropolis

At the base of the Acropolis

We arrived late at night in Athens – made even later by the fact that we’d crossed time zones. Thankfully at the airport the signs were at least bilingual with Greek and English. Unfortunately, our cab driver wasn’t… Not with English anyway.

The anglified version of the street name we were staying on (thanks Lonely Planet) confused our cabbie, but phonetics and his GPS device won out in the end.

We didn’t have much of a plan for Athens except to see some of the sights and have a break from travel before heading out to Santorini.

The girls giving the Parthenon a letter of some sort - probably Greek.

The girls giving the Parthenon a letter of some sort - probably Greek.

In the morning, we asked our hostess about the easiest way to get to the Acropolis with which she replied, “Oh, that’s just a 10 minute walk down the road.” That is easy. She also recommended that with children, a great spot to go was the National Gardens behind the Parliament building. So we headed out, after a late breakfast, for a walk around Athens.

First stop was the Acropolis. We reached the base of it and Emma wasn’t too keen about how high it looked to get up to the top. But with some encouragement and a treat just before the gate, we made it.

It was pretty incredible walking round and through structures that are around 2,500 years old.

The Parthenon

The Parthenon

Following that we headed down into the streets for some lunch.

Now, leading up to our trip, we had very high expectations of the food we were going to encounter in Italy. We weren’t expecting exotic, but that the quality of the familiar would be of a high standard. To a large extent these expectations were met. We hadn’t had any of those sorts of expectations for Greece – but wow. We were blown away by our lunch. We hadn’t gone to anywhere particularly fancy, just a street side restaurant on the edge of the Plaka (the old, touristy part of Athens). We hadn’t ordered anything extra special, just the regular plated souvlaki style dish and a beef and potatoes recommended by the waiter. But wow. Our fear was that, given that this was our first dining out experience in Greece, it might be the pinnacle and that all other meals would fall short of this very high set bar.

After an exceptional lunch we headed toward the National Gardens, found the play ground and let the kids run around whilst we sat and continued to digest.

We left the gardens and started heading back to our hostel. We meandered through the Plaka and picked up some €2 pitas (excellent) for dinner and planned to get an early night so that the 5:30am wake up to catch the ferry wasn’t going to be too much of a shock. The kids had other plans (our own fault as it turns out) and bed time came around 10:30pm… It wasn’t going to be a good morning following.

Our pre-arranged taxi arrived right on time at 5:45am with us all packed and ready to go (a miracle) and catch our ferry out to Santorini. Our cabbie was expectionally helpful despite our lack of a common language, and despite my mispronounciation of ‘Piraeus’ (where the ferry port is near Athens), it was enough to get us to where we needed to go. He was even more concerned about me getting our ferry tickets than helping him unload our luggage (not an easy task). After lots of handshaking, ‘kala’ (good) and ‘efcharisto’ (thank you) (I’m learning bits), and what seems to have been a neatly rounded up taxi fare, we were ready to catch our ferry.

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