Greece in September, Risky? Definitely. While I remained optimistic, the tropical storm that seized the Greek islands during my stay blocked all trips to/from Ios and Santorini. So no, I wasn’t able to Party in Mykynos (bitch) like Lindsay Lohan, but I was able to give Athens the culinary smashing I was hungry for. Five days of power let me really whip through the place, staying in a lovely backpackers (stay humble folks) meeting some fantastic travellers.
Some tourists book trips on what they want to see, who will be there & the weather. I booked this Europe trip on my favourite worldly cuisines, which saw me scraping through Greece, Italy & Spain. Welcome to My Guide to the Galaxy.
First up on my Euro-trip, Athens. I took a walking tour through the city with the only Sun I saw, Spanakopita in hand (first of many), My lovely guide took me and a few others through all the major sites of Athens. First up was the temple of Olympian Zeus, the Panatheniac Stadium & Parliament House.
My first taste of ancient Greek architecture taught me that the Ancient Greeks built their pillars so they were smaller at the top than they were at the bottom, just so that visually looking up at the ceiling would create the illusion it was bigger than it was. I guess male size obsession isn’t just a thing of the twentieth century.
Moving onto the Stadium, I was standing where the old Olympics used to happen, just days before the Greek Marathon. According to legend, A soldier ran 25 miles (40 km) in full armour after defeating the Persians on the nearby battlefield of Pheidippides, to inform them they had won the battle. After delivering the news “naɪki!” (Victory) he collapsed and died from exhaustion. The marathon, created in 1896 for the first Modern Olympic Games, was a nod to this soldier.
Next up was the tomb of the unknown soldier, a sculpture dedicated to honouring all the Greek soldiers who have died, without ever having their bodies recovered. Guarded by soldiers of the Athenian Guardarmerie, crowds consistently gather for the routine salut given to the tomb on every hour (Much like the Buckingham Palace guards but with it’s own Ottoman twist). Remember not to step too close or they will huff & puff and probably shoot you, so be on your best behaviour.
This is a church.
This brought us to the Plaka markets… where I would not recommend buying anything. Whilst beautiful to walk though day and night, I can’t help but feel like 70 Euros for a white linen shirt (especially at what is essentially a 2:1 Euro/Aussie Dollar conversion rate at the moment) is a bit of rip. What lies on the other side is why I made the trek though.
We walked up a small hill to get a gorgeous view of the Parthenon, giving my M50 to The Global Amigo (Andy) he superbly ripped out a few good pics of me. First & Last good photos someone else took of me in Greece mind you. How good is handing your camera to tourists and getting an absolute pancake of a photo back?
After a quick feed at the Acropolis Cave Restaurant (not overly expensive and a great feed), I started to feel the tough effects of jet lag and went back to the hostel for snooze. 16 hours later… I woke up to get cracking on day two with much bleaker conditions.
The Ancient Agora, or The Old Market place & place of politics. These ancient buildings have some of the most beautiful marble you’ll find in the world… It’s like every single building was built for Instagram influencers to shoot pics of their breakfast on #foodblog #avo #housedeposit.
A local guide was telling me how politicians would congregate in the centre to make all the important decisions. Politicians were all male but there was a famous tale where the Greeks made a decision to punish a colony who was committing… some sort of crime, my memory fails me. Regardless, they wanted to punish them by capturing the women and children and them as slaves, whilst murdering all the men on the island.
After making the decision all the politicians went home and told their wives about they’d done that day, unilaterally all the women were horrified, and the politicians came back to work the next day and cancelled the plans to murder & maim the island.
The problem was they had already sent a ship to undertake their orders, so they sent another with double the resources and man power to catch up to the boat, and tell them to turn back. Democracy for the win.
The view of the Parthenon from my 20 Euro Hostel…
The next few days saw the weather get more & more extreme, which resulted in me taking my camera out less and less. I couldn’t risk it as sadly my M50 isn’t weather sealed. These days took me on my biggest foot adventures around Athens to find all of the best cheap eats outside the city centre.
We went to a small restaurant 5ø (or 5F on trip advisor), upon walking in we were politely greeted and told that we can either ask for some things, or they can bring out a series of traditional greek dishes to our liking that met our diet. We opted for the latter and were pleasantly surprised with the off-beat, non ‘traditional’ traditional food we got. Think Risotto, beautiful roasted meat, and unbelievable dishes that left without a menu I still can’t name.
7 Dishes (each, think Greek Tapas Style) and a beer each set my friend James and I back 10 Euros. SOLD!
This versus the Innercity tourist trap dishes that will cost 10 euro EACH was a much preferred option… Despite the 30 minute trek, we found ourself eating with locals, which I would much rather. Whenever I’m travelling I always judge a place not by how many people are in it, but by how many locals are eating there.
If there aren’t many locals in there, it’s probably a bloody rip off.
Putting myself into a major food coma, I decided to settle down for yet another afternoon nap. How good is a holiday? Plus, I had to prepare for a bar crawl that evening, which I will leave the details of outside this somewhat work related blog post. All I’ll say is, stay safe, and remember one drink is actually three over there as all European countries are quite liberal with their pouring.
The next day held yet another gloomy day in Athens… But that didn’t dampen my traveller spirit, or my need for eats. Taking my own track for the day I decided to take another punt at the Plaka markets. I didn’t exactly do that well, I don’t think I bought any memorabilia from Greece (I’m a photographer, I make my own memories and I hate knick knacks, in my mind they loosely translate to garbage).
It did finally take me to the Ice-cream joint every back packer had been telling me about with a range of Ice-cream that made me faint. Move over Messina, this was some of the best Ice Cream I’ve had to date, they even had ‘Dulce Lecce’ Icecream which would rival that of Argentina (Sorry Violet).
They had these magical cones covered in nuts, coconut, peppermint carvings, chocolate, just about anything you could dream of.
The next gloom task I undertook was heading to a Rage Room and undertaking the greek tradition of Plate Smashing. Thankfully I didn’t have to get married first.
This left me with but one task left to tick off, climbing the Parthenon. I had been waiting for a brighter day, but with none in sight, I took off during a bleak evening, hoping for a beautiful break in the clouds before I departed Greece and it’s fantastic 2 Euro Gyros for Rome.