“Europe without Greece is like a child without a birth certificate.”
~Valery Giscard d’Estaing
- Eat Greek Food
We always try to eat at a variety of places while exploring a new city. We eat anywhere from Michelin Star restaurants to food trucks. This is a great way to explore a wide range of food being used, preparations and styles.
Everywhere we ate around town was great. We received some recommendations from a local we met. The grilled meats and seafood were amazing. Any place that had octopus on the menu, we ordered it!
I wish I could calculate the amount of Feta cheese that we consumed in Greece. It would be embarrassing to know how many pounds of that stuff we ate. We couldn’t get enough of it! At home, restaurants typically “sprinkle” feta cheese on your salad so you barely get a taste of it. In Greece, every restaurant seems to dump a pound on anything possible. Huge chunks everywhere, it was great!
I was not a fan of two things before this trip: Greek Yogurt & Tzatziki Sauce. But you know what they say “When in Rome…” I guess in this case “When in Greece…” I started off slow, but by the end of the trip, I wanted both of these at every meal. They both tasted so good!
We were also introduced to Ouzo. A Greek drink with an anise flavor. It is consumed in a couple different ways: as a shot or mixed with water. When mixed with water, the clear liquid becomes cloudy white. Both are good and I recommend trying it in both ways.
We stayed at the Hilton. Not only did they have a great pool area, but the hotel has a great feature: The Galaxy Restaurant and Bar on the rooftop of the hotel. We sat at night and enjoyed some snacks and a glass of wine while taking in the beautiful views of the city.
2. Custom sandals made by Melissinos Art The Poet Sandal Maker
While researching our trip, we knew we wanted to get a custom pair of sandals. We found that Melissinos Art was one of the best places to go around town. I don’t recall the exact year, but based on the pictures hanging around the shop, they have been making sandals for a long time. We saw pictures of Melissinos with the Beatles! The shop is down a non descript street and seems very small. When you walk in, there are sandals everywhere!
We found the out that all of the sandals are unisex and the sandals are hand made from start to finish. Melissinos uses calf leathers from Northern Greece which are then tanned in the tanneries on the island of Crete.
The place is busy, so you should plan to be there for a period of time depending on the day. The entire process took a little over an hour. We chose a style we wanted from the menu, then they measure our feet and began constructing the custom sandals. The sandals are very comfortable and now we have a unique and custom pair of sandals to remember our time in Athens!
3. Hike/Funicular Mt. Lycabettus (Likavitos)
Mt. Lycabettus is the highest point in Athens and you can get a 360 degree view of the city.
We walked most of the way up, but at a certain point, in the residential area, there is a funicular available to ride up! A funicular isn’t exactly a cable car. It was more of a cable car attached to an elevator shaft and it rose diagonally up the side of the mountain. A first for us, but we chose this option and took the short and relaxing ride up the rest of the way. While on top, you are able to take in 360 degree views of Athens. Also, the church of Saint George and a small restaurant/cafe is on top. We enjoyed a drink while taking in another great sunset in this beautiful city.
4. Sightsee around town
We love walking around while we are in another country, city or town. Walking around let’s you understand the place a little more in depth. We enjoy reading or trying to read the signs & graffiti, visiting stores, public areas and transportation. Also, any recommendations from the locals are always appreciated.
We found many great places while walking the town. After getting our sandals made, we explored the Athens Flea Market. It was a good place to pick up a couple small souvenirs for family back home.
We also explored the Plaka District, some historical sites, public art, ruins and old building as well. We walked and explored so many areas that we wish we would have had a pedometer or something to track our route! It seems we always walk around for hours exploring. It would be great to look at a summary of our journey at the end of the day to “officially” see where we have been.
My favorite places to visit while in another town is the grocery store. I enjoy seeing what is being sold, what the people are buying and finding any different spices, drinks or really anything I have not tried. Amanda always heads to the candy section to see what new candy she can discover!
5. Watch the “changing of the guards” at the Parliament Building
It’s common for guards to be mostly stationary at Parliament Buildings around Europe. In Athens, if you plan your trip right, be there on the half hour to see the two guards doing their “honouring” of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. On the hour, two new guards come in and do a changing of the guard ceremony.
Overall we enjoyed our short 2 day stay in Athens and found plenty of things to learn and explore!
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