Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Athens Adventures


Alex’s parents were there waiting for us when we disembarked at Rafina port – it had been a while since we’d seen them and we hoped that we would recognise each other.  It did take us a while to spot them in the crowds but they remembered us as soon as we saw them.  We were very warmly welcomed by Alex’s parents into their home and Dave and Mr Spyratou instantly bonded over some whiskey, but despite Sarah’s best efforts to help out in the kitchen, she was firmly banned by Mrs Spyratou and had to join in the whiskey drinking as well. 

We sat down to dinner at 9.30pm, thinking that we’d done very well to wait until so late since we knew that traditionally Greeks eat quite late in the evening, only to find out later that Alex’s parents had eaten an hour earlier than usual just to make us feel more welcome!  We enjoyed an excellent home cooked Greek meal - lamb, potatoes, cheese, salad (of course drowned in extra virgin olive oil!), and home-made wine.  With so much food we had to drag ourselves upstairs to bed afterwards and enjoyed the feeling of being in a real home after such a long time of sleeping in hotels.

Changing of the Guard
At our feast of a breakfast the next morning we found out that on the following day all the museums and archaeological sites in Athens would be free to visit since it was the anniversary of Melina Mercouri’s death – nice timing.  So we decided that we’d dedicate this day to do the walking tour of Athens and explore anything that wasn’t museum-like. 

Mr Spyratou kindly walked us to the bus stop to show us where to get on, bought us tickets and then when the rain started insisted that we take his umbrella for the day meaning he had to hurry back home through the rain. He is a true gentleman!! We really appreciated his thoughtfulness, especially when later in the day it not only poured, but hailed and we would’ve been soaked had we not had his umbrella.

Athens Library
We got off the bus near the Palace and watched the comical changing of the guard – hard to take a man seriously in a kilt and pompoms.  We spent a couple of hours exploring Athens and didn’t stop till 3pm for a quick lunch when the hail forced us into a bakery for some much needed food and caffeine (the Greeks know how to make a strong coffee).

Dinner was ready for us as soon as we arrived home – deliciously tender beef with rice and salad, and we spent the evening watching an opera with Mr Spyratou and chatting about Greece and our plans of where we would go after Athens.

We planned an early start for the next day so that we could make the most of everything being free, and when we came downstairs we found breakfast already served on the table – we felt really guilty that Mrs Spyratou was going to so much effort for us! Our first stop of the day was the famous Acropolis which was interesting to see but had a lot of restoration work going on which did detract from the ruins, but is understandably necessary.  The views down over the sprawling city were fantastic though and easily made up for all the cranes.  It took a good 2 hours to fully explore the top and hillside, and then it was onto the Roman and Ancient Agora before hurrying to the Archaeological Museum.  We made it there by 2pm which was lucky as it closed at 3, so we did a whirlwind tour of what is a fantastic museum that we could’ve easily spent a few more hours in.

Acropolis
Tired after a long day on our feet we enjoyed a well-earned Freddochino before our last stop of the day which was the Acropolis Museum.  It was the only non-free visit of the day, but at least it stayed open till 8pm so we had plenty of time to enjoy the exhibits.   It was another great museum, well designed and thought-out as all the artefacts are from the Acropolis itself and thanks to the huge glass walls you can stare up at the actual site while you admire the exhibits.

Dinner that awaited us back at the Spyratou’s was the long awaited moussaka, and it was worth the wait.  Mrs Spyratou is seriously a good cook! She even wrapped up left-overs for us to take with on the bus the next day as we had a long day of buses in front of us so we could make it to the city of Delphi.
Ampitheatre overlooking Athens

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