Acropolis Adventures | Day Two in Athens, Greece
Our first day in Athens was pretty exhausting, especially since we had woken up at 4 a.m. to get ready for our flight. It made my not-so-comfortable hotel bed really, really enjoyable. Still, I found myself awake at 6 a.m., sitting on said bed and staring out the window. The view of the Acropolis in the soft, morning light is something to be seen.
We got ready and immediately head up to the roof of our hotel for more early-morning views. After some serious Acropolis-watching, we indulged in the hotel breakfast — perfectly cooked eggs, cheeses and olives. I’ll take it. Day two in Athens was scheduled to be a busy one. The hotel staff walked around table-to-table during breakfast asking if anyone needed help with directions for the day. The staff seemed to be able to sufficiently speak any language that was thrown at them; it was rather impressive.
We started our day 8 a.m. sharp at the Ancient Agora. This site was the center of the ancient city. We were the first people to enter in the morning, so everything was incredibly quiet. We wandered through a field of ruins and barely-there fragments of buildings that were once the heart and soul of this city.
It was pretty incredible to explore this area in silence, without the chaos of tourist groups and selfie sticks. There was a museum here, as well. We had the museum all to ourselves, with the exception of the staffer who followed us around and kept asking if we wanted him to take our picture. Sweet Greek man.
We head towards the back side of the Agora to start our journey uphill to the Parthenon. Of course, the convenient route was closed off for the day, so the long way was our only option. This route forced us to walk through the still-sleepy streets of residential neighborhoods. Everything was so quaint, quiet and colorful.
After thirty minutes or so of slowing winding our way up hill, we reached an awesome view of the city and the entrance to the Acropolis sites. Sitting high above Athens, the Acropolis is home to the Parthenon, the Propylaea, the Erechtheum and the Temple of Athena Nike.
You would think that the Acropolis was also the birthplace of the selfie stick, considering how many were extending into the walkways. But in all seriousness, for one of the most popular sites in the world, the crowd was incredibly mild. This proved to be a serious perk of traveling during the winter.
Walking around the Acropolis was surreal. The Erechtheum temple was my favorite. I’m not sure why, but I kept finding myself heading back in that direction. The weather was chilly and overcast, but the sun was shining through off and on, creating an awesome glow on everything. The Parthenon also cannot be ignored. It's massive and something that I ended up being much more excited about than I had expected to be.
When we were finally ready to part ways with the Acropolis sites, it was around 10:30 a.m. This meant food was needed in our near future. We walked around the back side of the Acropolis, allowing us to see an ancient Greek theatre and some really beautiful homes. This loop took us back through the heart of the Plaka neighborhood, which is arguably the most picturesque part of the city, looking just like you'd imagine a Greek street scene to appear on a postcard.
We found an awesome bar in the heart of the Plaka neighborhood where we tasted a good amount of ouzo and Greek spirits. For some reason, we were the only patrons in the bar drinking at 11 in the morning. Food was desperately needed at this point. We found ourselves not one, but two gyros deep by the early afternoon. Both cost us around 2 euros; it's not even fair how cheap a delicious meal is here. We spent the next few hours journeying to a new (for us) part of the city to look around at Athen's large outdoor market.
Heading back to our part of town from the market, I was able to stop in and visit the famous sandal-making man. A family business since the 1920s, this guy produces handmade leather sandals, customized to fit your foot perfectly. I picked the style of sandal I like from the collection covering the walls. Many of the styles are named after famous women who have visited the shop in the past — Jackie Kennedy and Sarah Jessica Parker, to name a few. Forget a keychain or shot glass, this is my kind of souvenir.