It’s Monday evening, Easter Monday if you’re Greek Orthodox. A denomination I’ve now got a soft spot for as it seems to involve a significant amount of roast lamb.
We’ve been having a great time in Athens. Arrival on Sunday was a little stressful, the queues at immigration were terrible, when we finally got out of the airport and found our way to the train station it was completely closed! Thought about trying to catch a bus (for about 2 seconds) before giving up and forking out €35 for a taxi. The driver was about half a mouthful short of a full set of teeth and ignored virtually all of the road rules but he got us pretty close to our hotel; the Acropolis House, in Plaka. It was highly rated on Trip Advisor and we’ve been pleased so far. It’s very affordable and quite charming in the old part of town.
I’d emailed a very helpful local couchsurfer back & forth a few times and he’d suggested that we try roast lamb on Easter if we could… After checking into the hotel we set out in search of a good feed. Around most corners there were groups of people barbequing on the street, it smelt fantastic and I couldn’t wait to find a restaurant. A few blocks from the hotel we hit gold, a restaurant had set up a large charcoal barbeque and had two lambs on spits along with some sort of kebab made from their intestines! Jackpot!!!
I told the waiter we wanted the roast lamb and let him choose the entrée, a soup that tasted like spinach, garlic & kidney. I didn’t tell Elyse what it was until after we were finished and she seemed to like it! Apparently they only eat this soup at Easter time, I later found out it’s called Mayeritsa.
After a solid sleep we were up at 7am for breakfast in the hotel (a bread roll, a boiled egg, toast, jam, marmalade & olives). We didn’t think much would be open so decided to take a big walk around the city. One of the local guided tours were kind enough to share some routes on their website so I downloaded one to Google Earth on the iPad, preloaded all the maps and we set off.
We covered a lot of ground so I might just jot down a few highlights. It’s crazy walking around the old part of the city, every street has some sort of monument or building that would be a national treasure back home.
Temple of Olympian Zeus – the first monument we visited, wow. It really took my breath away. We were here early in the morning too and had it pretty much to ourselves.
The Acropolis – fought the crowd here but it’s definitely worth doing. The view over Athens is amazing and it’s impossible to comprehend how these buildings were constructed thousands of years ago.
Parliament House & Sytagma Square – a little tense due to the recent events, bus loads of police on standby with full riot gear. Generally, the police were very friendly though, keen to say hello and give us a smile.
National Garden – glorious, I think we chose the perfect time to come to Athens. It’s absolutely beautiful in Spring.
Panathenaic Stadium – huge! Didn’t worry about the entry fee here as we could take it all in from the gates. Tomorrow were going to try and head up Lycabetus Hill for a different perspective before flying out to Santorini in the evening.