Athens, pt. 1

Athens

The Acropolis

The Acropolis

The Acropolis

Path to the Acropolis

Greek Salad

Athens

Souvlaki

Side by Side

We were warned before we left for Greece for our honeymoon by a few well-meaning friends who have been to/lived in Athens that the city might seem underwhelming or worrisomely run-down, and to expect shuttered stores and graffiti. Of course, it would be different once we got to Santorini, since the small island is almost exclusively a tourist destination, but in capital Athens so much of the city had been affected by the recent economic turbulence, it was impossible for people to not brace us for the worst case scenario. I think we were expecting to land in Syria, honestly.

Happily, what we found when we arrived in Athens two weeks ago was a vibrant, thriving, wonderful city, seemingly on the rebound. Sure, there were stray animals and graffiti, just like any major city. Perhaps it was because we stayed in the Plaka, a central downtown neighborhood, but every café and shop was packed with locals, and more than a few tourists, even though we were in Greece near the tail-end of the tourist season. The Athens we discovered was worlds away from the Athens of a few years ago, where stores were closed and strikes were rampant, and it charmed the pants off both of us.

A consequence of spending too much time in Paris, I’ll admit, is that I expect Europeans to be as frosty and reserved, and for everything –even a simple cup of coffee– to be prohibitively expensive. What a pleasant surprise Greece was! Greeks are warm and welcoming, open and talkative, and generous beyond measure –probably even beyond means. Waiters who discovered we were on our honeymoon brought over free dessert, free Ouzo, free Limoncello without fail. And Jamal and I never really got over the fact that a jug of house wine never cost us more than €6. You know, what one glass costs in Paris. We also ate €2 souvlaki and €3 tzatziki more times than my scale would have liked. (Related: I gained 8lbs on this trip! Eight!)

We went to the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum after getting stuck in a flash rain storm on our first morning there. The topography of the city is overwhelming: hilly and steep with gorgeous lush mountains everywhere, punctuated most notably with the Acropolis, high on a hill. If we were over-prepared for the potential plight of the city, I was under-prepared for how staggeringly beautiful the Parthenon is in person. You can see it from almost every spot in the city, peeking out in all its overwhelming glory. It is massive, and walking around the ruins was the most surreal and incredible experience.

We rented an apartment through AirBnB, and were able to make dinner at home on our second night. That Greek salad, above? Yeah, my husband made that. I married a good one.

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October 8, 2014 / art / photo / wedding / LEAVE A COMMENT / 16

16 comments

  • There are, I believe, and we’ve traveled a lot, few countries that will welcome you more than Greece and the Greeks. It’s the birthplace of hospitality and they take those traditions so seriously. And what I love about the Plaka is that while it’s heralded as a tourist destination, that’s really a misnomer. It’s a destination, period. For the Greeks as well as her visitors. Sure, there are cheesy statue shops and tourist trap bars, but every city has those. They march side by side with the best tucked-away cafes and shops.

    Now you see why I cry every time I see the Parthenon, yes?

  • J’ai envie de aller en Grèce tout de suite! Tes photos sont si belles! Tu as épousée un homme charmant qui en plus fait la cuisine, tu est très intelligente Erin ! La salade est magnifique ! Je crois que c’est une bonne chose de louer an appartement en lieu d’un hôtel, ça permet de se sentir comme à la maison !
    J’adore vos portraits dans ce “cadre” magnifique ! xoxo

  • glorious photos! the white marble against those blue skies! no wonder they picked those colors for the flag. i’ve dreamt of going to greece ever since we studied the mythology in fifth grade. i’m so glad to hear that greece is recovering from the recent economic troubles and that her people are friendly and good-spirited – it speaks a lot for their character and resilience. would love to see some pics of the apartment, i have seen and experienced nothing but the best from airbnb. looking forward to the other “parts” of this trip, keep ’em coming!

  • “and it charmed the pants off both of us”

    To be fair, I feel like most honeymoons have their fair share of pantslessness, regardless of the charm of the location. :)

    …I’ll see myself out. This joint is much too classy for me and my immature, middle-school-boy sense of humor.

  • now, what part of paris is this? (hehe, i couldn’t resist). i love this so much! i am so happy that it exceeded your expectations! and greece sounds as lovely as i have always imagined it to be. i am also so glad you were able to experience the local side of greece as well and share photos with us (it seems every blog that posts about a trip to greece reminds me of that kardashian episode i watched where they went to santorini – it’s all posh and resort-y. which of course is a very, very small fraction of entire country and open to a very small fraction of people to experience that way. wait did i just admit that i watched the kardashians? i was sick, it doesn’t count.). i am so glad that you both enjoyed it so well! these picture are beautiful and that salad is making me cry remembering that time not too long ago i could eat tomatoes – it looks so delicious! xoxo

  • I’ve been dying to get to Greece but our last trip to Europe just didn’t work out. I’m so happy to hear that you had a good experience. My husband and I have been going back and forth about making it a priority for our next trip but everyone else has said very similar things.

  • I’m so glad I stumbled upon your blog and found this post (and that you wrote it!). I went to Athens about five years ago and I would have given you the exact same warning your friends did. I’m so pleased to hear that things are changing and it may once again be a place of beauty and worth visiting.

  • Meat on a spit and Limoncello, yum! I love Greek food and your husband did a wonderful job on the salad, very professional.

    The first photo is wonderful of the landscape with the Four Maids of the Erectheion! How much construction was at the Acropolis? I know there’s always some, but you made it look like pristine and non-touristy.

  • The first picture in this post is breathtaking and deserves to be in a gallery.
    I’ve heard that Athens can be underwhelming from friends too, I think if you go somewhere without huge expectations, you’re more likely to appreciate the little delights that are truly characteristic of a place. And that really is a very impressive Greek salad! xxx
    Lucy @ La Lingua Italy

  • sounds like you had a great time. a good friend of mine lives in Athens but it’s been eight years, I think, since I’ve been there. I loved Athens. I was there in the middle of winter and had the city to myself. there were next to no tourists, and it was sunny and surprisingly mild. what more can one ask for? waiting to see more pics xoxo

  • Lovely photos as always! Glad to hear that you have discovered another European contry as well. I´ve been to most of them and each country has it´s own beauty and profile even if they are all in Europe, so go on exploring! Why not go to Sweden or another Scandinavian country next time…? Apart from that France and Paris will always be number one in my heart ;-)

  • I love the shots that you took of the scenery but the FOOOOOD geezus the food. I’m so glad you had a great time on your trip and that Athens exceeded expectations. Can’t wait to see the rest of your pictures

  • Gorgeous photography, but then, all photos here, are always gorgeous.

    Thank you for the background… Of what it’s really like, etc.

    Tessa~
    “Here there be musing” blog

  • I’m hungry, now! :)
    Gorgeous photos, as always. I know I always say this but it’s true. I want your whole blog on my wall. Well, not really, but you know what I mean.

  • !!!!!!!! – that’s all I’ve got to follow this post.

  • La salade grecque est la meilleure salade que je connaisse pour le goût et pour la santé !
    La visite de l’acropole offre un voyage dans le temps, C’est un beau voyage qui me rappelle des souvenirs.