My drugs had kicked in by Friday and we set off for the Acropolis of Athens in the morning before it got too hot and crowded. It’s a good idea to get there as close to opening time of 8am as possible as there were still hundreds of people lining up for tickets and making their way slowly up the hill. It’s a lovely walk from Monastiraki Square as you pass by a number of other ruins and go up the shaded steps near a taverna and past a heritage building which houses a childcare centre for the lucky staff who work at the Acropolis (carrying whistles for any misbehaving tourists) and Ministry of Culture.
It was a beautiful morning to visit with the sun already high in the sky and amazing views over Athens from the Acropolis. The Parthenon and other buildings on the Acropolis were even more stunning to see close up and I marvelled at how they were all made of marble. It was the United Nations in terms of tourists from all over the world taking photos including us and we also loved the huge Greek flag flying in the wind, which was visible from our apartment windows.
We stopped to have some Greek iced coffees with sugar (or frappes as they are called in Greece) and then made our way down through the beautiful streets of Plaka below the Acropolis and the main area for most tourists to visit or stay in. The houses and little laneway tavernas and shops going up the steps towards the Acropolis were full of character and one of the things I will take with me is all the shade provided by leafy grapevines or flowering purple Bougainvillea. We stopped to have lunch at one of the tavernas on the terrace. Yiasemi is the go to place but you can’t go wrong with any Greek tavernas – I am in the closing days of our trip here and we are yet to have a bad meal.
The souvenir shops in Plaka are more stylish but still touristy – there were lots of young girls buying the lovely metal olive leaf head wreaths to wear. Another shop worth visiting for modern Greek design is Forget Me Not which has had a number of write ups in international magazines. We bought a very cool wrist band made of sailing rope held in place by a silver anchor as well as a T-Greeks T-shirt.
It was hot walking the streets of Plaka so we made it to the National Gardens for some respite from the sun. If we’d had one extra day in Athens it would have been lovely to visit some of the museums, stroll down Ermou Street to browse the shops all the way to upmarket Kolonaki as well as visit Lycabettus Hill and take the funicular up to the highest point of Athens to visit St. George Church.
Mr Rosanna and I also enjoyed walking the streets of Pysri buying groceries from the super market and bakery with the locals. Despite the population, Athens is like a village on steroids – it has remained proudly Greek and we loved our time there. We spent our last night at a laneway taverna checking out the very cool hipster shops in the area, which had been closed in the early hours of the morning and at siesta time and we thoroughly enjoyed our inner city base in the time we spent in Athens although bigger adventures awaited us in the Cyclades Islands.