Meat & Markets | Day One in Athens, Greece
In the weeks leading up to my trip to Athens, Greece, I started to question my decision to visit this city. I’m not sure what it was about Athens that was starting to worry me, but I found myself concerned that I made a bad decision by including it as part of my trip itinerary. Maybe it was the recent news on Greece’s economic problems — I’m really not sure. Needless to say, I was anxious and nervous when it was time to head that way.
We arrived at Athens International Airport around 9 a.m., immediately boarding the metro to take us to the city. The ride from the airport to Athens city center is around 40 minutes. Finding and boarding the metro was easy, as was the ride, but I kept falling asleep and jerking myself awake in fear of my backpack being stolen.
We got off at Syntagma Station located in Athen’s central square, Syntagma Square. It was 10 a.m. on a Sunday morning and the locals sure were up and moving. We came out from underground, landing in the middle of the square. Behind me was the Old Royal Palace, while the square was filled with vendors selling newspapers and Greek treats.
I immediately noticed that there were many stray dogs roaming freely, and that the trees in the square were filled with what appeared to be some type of citrus fruit. Locals were shoving papers in our faces and trying to hand us items they were selling, so we quickly exited the area in search of our hotel.
The Plaka Hotel was a straight-shot, half-mile walk from the station. The front desk staff were incredibly warm and welcoming. They hurried to get us an early check-in, but put us in a room with a close-up view of a wall that was under construction. Hate to complain, but I didn’t pay extra for the Acropolis view for nothing. We were moved to the correct room —ah, there’s my view of the Acropolis — and then quickly put our stuff down so we could head out and explore.
First and foremost — food! One might still consider this time of day to be breakfast, but Greece is full of delicious, meaty treats so we weren’t going to waste any time. Within a two block walk from our hotel we found “souvlaki row,” a two-block strip of restaurants, all desperately vying for your business. Each restaurant comes equipped with a Greek man outside, begging you to come in, all while trying to explain why his souvlaki is better than the guy’s next door. One restaurant dude went so far as to grab me by the arm and try to pull me in. Needless to say, we did not eat there. We settled on a place I had read about online before our trip. I was quite satisfied with my large plate of meat.
The big Sunday event in Athens is the flea market, so of course I needed to see what a Greek flea market was all about. They sure don’t mess around. I’m really unsure exactly how this thing is organized, like, can anyone just show up with a treasure trove of unwanted items and lay them out to sell? There is stuff EVERYWHERE.
A lot of items were used or unwanted goods, like you'd see at a yard sale or antique shop. But then you also had vendors selling brand new items, clothes, food and everything else under the sun. It was quite an eclectic affair. Nonetheless, entertaining and really, really big. It spans for blocks and blocks and kept us busy for the majority of the day, before retreating for a much-needed afternoon nap.