EuroAdventure15: Around Athens

(posted by Emily)

6 July 2015
Athens, Greece

Monday morning we were up early and prepared--Rick Steves audio app on hand, with our walking tours downloaded! We stopped for a cappuccino freddo at another one of John's recommended spots, Cafe Taf.

We arrive at the ancient Agora around 9am. It was still cool, and not very crowded, which was great. The Agora was the traditional city center of ancient Greece. Home to the shopping stalls, government, philosophers, and protesters. The Rick Steves walking tour was clear and informative, with directions from place to place and descriptions of what we were seeing. I highly, highly recommend it!

The ancient version of a shopping mall :)

Inside is a small museum, with lots of interesting artifacts

The Temple of Hephaestus, on top of the hill.

Walking around the temple

A statue of Hadrian showing Athena on top of the famous image of Romulus and Remus suckling (we saw the original bronze statue of that in Rome last summer!)

One of the only "modern" buildings allowed to remain in the Agora is this Orthodox Church

After the Agora, we wandered a bit more,  before deciding to go to the new Acropolis Museum. We absolutely recommend going here--it was only 10 Euro  total for both of our admissions and so worth it. The museum pays careful attention to historical restorations, as well as creates a life-size, actual representation  of what the Parthenon would be like. Incredibly thoughtful and detailed, with great design. Go, go, go! 

The actual korai from the Temple of Athena--the ones we saw the day before on top of the Acropolis are actually copies! One is at the British Museum.

At the top floor of museum are panoramic views of the city, including the Acropolis

On the top floor, you get a great feeling for the actual size and scope of the Parthenon, down to the number of columns that are there, represented by the metal columns here. This is the point where we realized just how well thought out the museum is!

The building's design incorporates ancient ruins below, which are being restored in order to become a part of the permanent exhibition

Looking down over the excavation--we could see people actually working there!

Lots of street art in Athens--including just regular tagging, but also artistic pieces too. 

We needed a little something to tide us over, but it was almost too hot for a full meal. We decided to stop in to Avocado for a chocolate coconut maca shake.

On our way to the main shopping street, we passed by this building, which was surrounded by cameras. We weren't sure what was going on, but we assumed some sort of press conference. Later that night, we recognized the scene on the news!

It was bound to happen sooner or later--we found the Zara. About 2 hours later, with lighter pocketbooks and a few bags, we were off to find somewhere special for dinner.

Man in his natural habitat

John recommended a restaurant called Mani Mani (MANH MANH in Greek) to us. The reviews online were great as well, and recommended getting many half plates of their dishes if you go earlier in the evening. So, we did! The restaurant was beautiful and the service great. We ordered a number of different things, including dessert.

A mushroom soup (the best thing we ate!) and cheese ravioli

The restaurant's take on "salad"--boiled mountain greens with a lemon yogurt and a Greek salad (tomatoes/cucumbers/onion) with feta "bird's nests" (my term, not theirs!)

Cumin-spiced chickpeas

Orzo with 4 types of mushrooms--for those that know me, it will come as a huge surprise to tell you that I LOVED this dish (I am not normally a cooked mushroom fan). It was outstanding. 

"Baklava" with ice cream and digestifs of mastika (a liqueur made from tree resin, specific to Greece)

After dinner, we succumbed to our food comas and headed back to the hotel for siesta time. I napped a bit, while Rick caught up on the news and Googled around for a spot for late night drinks. 

We had passed by Brettos, in Plaka, the night before and knew we wanted to go back. The distillery dates back to 1909, and they make their own uzo, brandy, and flavored liqueurs. The decor is great, with all the colored bottles--it feels very inviting!

There is an extensive list of wines, beers, cocktails, and liquors to be had. We wanted to try things made by Brettos, so Rick had a 5 year old brandy, while I tried a flavored liqueur with orange, vanilla, and rose. 

Right around the time our second round of drinks came, the bar started to fil up and we began chatting with the people sitting around us--an older man who comes to Greece twice a year, 3 American girls headed to a yoga retreat, and an English couple named Ollie and Nicki. We had a great time sharing stories and talking about life, while Rick curated everyone's drink orders by ordering something first, and passing it around for everyone to try. 

We had a great time, and really enjoyed the social experience of meeting new people and just hanging out! Can't wait to meet up again with Ollie and Nicki once we get to London for some curry!

A great day in Athens!


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