If you don't enjoy fresh sea bass, slow roasted lamb shank, fried calamari with pesto, or overflowing souvlaki wraps, Greece may not be for you. If you don't think walking onto your balcony every morning to a warm breeze and jaw dropping views of the Santorini caldera is for you, then you may not appreciate Greece. And lastly, if a long day soaking up the island sun on the deep blue Aegean Sea while sipping wine and sailing into a sunset doesn't ring your bell, you may want to choose another country.
Alright, alright I'm obviously being sarcastic. As you can tell from my descriptions, Greece was a sensory overload of the find-est kind! We had so many unique experiences. We hiked the acropolis in Athens, ate at MANY fantastic restaurants, stayed on the rim of the famous Santorini caldera, sailed the Aegean on a catamaran and sat down to a Greek wine pairing. To keep things somewhat brief, but provide other prospective travelers with some insight to our experiences, I'm going to highlight our favorites in different posts over the next few weeks. If you are interested in any further details, please don't hesitate to contact us via the contact form on the website. Also, if you would like to know more about our original plan of attack, simply follow this link and read more about the trip plan.
The Acropolis was definitely a highlight of our two days in Athens. We booked a guide ahead of time through Get Your Guide. While I'm not a huge fan of guided tours (probably because I like the freedom to roam about), this turned out to be a great decision. By hiring a guide, we were able to skip the ticket line (over an hour wait in the 95 degree heat), ask questions of our English speaking guide and also take in a plethora of facts from our guide that we normally wouldn't have had access to. One watch out that I want to point out is that the Acropolis hike requires a steep climb and many stairs. During the summer months, the temperature hovers in the mid to high 90's. So please realize that it will require this level of fitness for 1.5 hours. It is also smart to make sure that your group is well hydrated and supplied with water bottles beforehand (there is a bathroom and more water at the top). OK, back to the experience. For those that don't know, the Acropolis is actually the entire hill that the age old Greek buildings sit upon in Athens. The famous Parthenon, is the iconic temple that people see in pictures, with its beautiful columns standing tall against the Athenian skyline. Many people get this confused and call the Parthenon "the Acropolis", when they are actually different. We began our hike at the base of the hill, at a Greek yogurt shop called A Fresko. We snagged some beforehand for breakfast and it was fantastic. Kailah and I both got plain, with honey, walnuts and pineapple. The others chose between yogurt, pastries and smoothies. Delicious all around. To begin the tour, we guiltily walked past the long queue line and straight through the front gates to the historic site. As we ascended, our guide stopped periodically in the shade to provide details of what we were looking at. It was amazing to see concert halls, a theater and even a hospital, built thousands of years ago - all while traveling the same road that ancient Athenians once did. As we crested the hill, we were met with a dense group of tourists, who were all lounging on the stone stairs leading up to the Parthenon. The final ascent was breathtaking, as you could see Athens sprawled out magnificently in all directions. The view from there was the highlight of the tour. It is breathtaking. The kind of view that you hike for over an hour in 95+ degree heat for. If you go to Athens, make this part of your itinerary. You will not regret it. Our tour ended with a few parting notes on the buildings atop the Acropolis, inclusive of the Parthenon, Temple of Athena and the Propylaia. At that point it was time for lunch at Sfika - a gastropub off the beaten path, which features classic Greek food. But, we'll make time for food in later posts :).
More on Athens and the beautiful Greek Isles coming soon!