Sunday, February 14, 2016

Athens - Ancient Greece

June 17
After a day full of travel, we were eager to get checked into our hotel and start wondering this ancient greek city. We had great views from our hotel!
Our first stop was to get some food. We ended up going to Tzitsikas & Mermingas. We had a mix from meatballs to fried cheese with honey and bacon to couscous with salmon. All tasty
After getting some food, we ended up walking into this demonstration. We were visiting right before the country was due to come to an agreement on the debt issue. 
Very interesting time to visit!
And the perfect way to end the first day in Greece was by trying some greek pints! 
And believe it or not, the beer was just as good as the wine :)
June 18
For our first full day in Greece, we started off with a food tour. 
For breakfast, we tried some traditional greek yogurt with honey and walnuts, rice pudding with cinnamon, and fried doughnuts with syrup (i.e. sugar water). I was a little surprised by the greek yogurt because there was a weird film on the yogurt... a true sign of original greek yogurt according to our guide. Kind of sad to realize the greek yogurt in the grocery store is not close at all haha

After all the sweets, our guide balanced out the next stop with traditional feta cheese. I didn't realize that true feta cheese is 30% goat and 70% sheep. We tried 2 different types based on the aging process and were wowed at how delicious fresh feta can be!
The next stop was on to the meat and fish market. 
We were able to try a lamb slider burger, peppers, olives, some sausage, halloumi, and Tsipoaro (liquor drink). I have grown to love love olives over the past few years, however these olives were much stronger than I would have thought. We got some olive soap from the market to take home too!
We had noticed there were coffee shops all over Athens, so I was excited to try some traditional coffee at our next stop. This coffee shop not only served the traditional style, but they also roasted their own beans. So the traditional coffee is heated coffee grinds over hot rocks in a briki (the pot) and then poured into the cup. The top is foam and at the bottom are the grinds. It is very strong so you drink it slowly and don't finish it (because of the grinds at the bottom). I wasn't a huge fan but I think Jeffrey liked it quite well.

After the coffee, we headed toward the savory for the afternoon. We tried some dried camel (which was very spicy), veal, and pastrami and more cheese. Given the cities diverse background, it was fun to try some non-traditional greek food but something still very rich and alive in the city still today. 
While we are really starting to get full, we were headed to one of the two most famous souvlaki shops in the city and probably our favorite stop on the tour.
We tried both the pork and the chicken with tomatoes with french fries in the wrap. OMG this was by far the best souvlaki I have ever had... I can still taste it today!
Our last and final stop was more a traditional meal. 
We tried fava bean puree, herb greens, calamari, zucchini cheese balls and some wine. After the tour our thoughts on greek food definitely changed a little... 
- there were more fried dishes than we thought, 
- baklava has mixed nuts and turkish baklava has peanuts, 
- tzatziki is not in all souvlaki and 
- in Greece everyone has a second birthday to celebrate their name, (i.e. name day) 

And yes were stuffed from all the food on the tour, 
so the only logical next step was to walk it off!
With everything really close by, we headed over to the Temple of Zeus and Hadrian's Arch to walk around. 
To really make sure we were moving around enough... Jeffrey wanted to get the perfect shot of me jumping in front of the columns..... 
So we took a few takes.... 
Tried getting a closer focus..... 
and several takes later, still didn't get the shot of me in the air haha 
Oh well at least it was fun trying! 
and I think we ended up getting ever angle possible in front of the 15 columns still standing! 
Afterwards we headed up toward the National Park to see the original Olympic Park. 
After all the jumping around and full bellies, I started to not feel so hot, so we headed back to the hotel to rest up for another adventurous day. 
 June 19
With our second and last day in the city, we headed out to see the unforgettable sights that you just can't leave Athens without seeing :) We started near the hotel with Hardian's Library. 
Next stop was on to the Roman Forum and Tower of Winds. 
Having some fun with the camera :) 
Unfortunately, the tower of winds was under construction.... 
We saw the Theatre of Odeon on the way up to the Acropolis
The Parthenon
At the top of the Acropolis
the Erechtheion
Awesome views all the way around!
Toward the bottom of the hill, we walked around the Aroga and saw more ancient ruins. 
Temple of Hephaestus
Time for some pick me ups after seeing all that old stuff! haha
We found a cute little coffee shop and tried a different type of coffee... 
it was chilled and much tastier!
To top off the last day in Athens, we went to A for Athens Bar at the top of a hotel for a drink and to watch the sunset. 
After 2 great days in Athens, we were headed off the next morning to see another side of Greece... island style in Santorini :)

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