Waking up in an unfamiliar place is always interesting. Day 2 in Athens and I was just thankful for hotel wake up calls or I might have missed the tour that day. The Crown Plaza offers a free breakfast buffet and though I was exhausted from getting a total of 4 hours of sleep the night before, I got up. No way I was passing up breakfast. We had a long day of touring ahead of us and much of that could not be possible without fuel.
The night prior, we had been told a the few simple greetings to communicate with the locals. The simple Kalimera “good morning” and Efharisto (Ef harris toe) “Thank you,” is a nice way to show respect for the culture and also show that you care enough to address them in a way they are most comfortable in interacting. I was with a guided tour and a bus took us to the Acropolis. It doesn’t need to be explained but this is a huge tourist attraction. People arrive in the bus loads. One thing to note, it is a bit of a hike up. It’s not far but there are steps, rounds of them and you should not have any possible heart issues. There was a gentleman in our group who turned pale and was having an extremely difficult time with the climb up. Also, don’t wear heals. The ground is made stone and concrete. Some of that is very slippery. It’s always important to watch where you’re walking on the way up and while visiting the Parthenon.
Getting to the top was surreal. Here I was staring history in the face. It was awe-inspiring. I couldn’t believe how how tall, and how majestic the Parthenon stood. My heart races as I write about this remembering just how grand it was. It was a beautiful day as well. The sun was out, but there was a breeze so that helped. Our guide spoke about the history of the Parthenon but in my opinion it was a lot to take in. I would have preferred the bare bones and then let us explore. After about 30 minutes of listening to her, a few of us just wandered off. Our tour was only two hours so we didn’t want to waste any time.
After the tour the bus took us to the Olympic Stadium where the first Olympic games where held. Following this and a driven tour overlooking the city, we headed back to our hotel. At this time lack of sleep, jet lag, and the remnants of alcohol from the night before had my brain beckoning to just go to the room and sleep. But I knew I needed to take advantage of being there. A few of us had lunch afterwards and had a few hours before we would meet for a traditional Greek dinner in Plaka.
Upon arrival at dinner at a taverna in the festive Plaka district, I was greeted with a glass of ouzo. This is a traditional Greek drink which tastes like black licorice. Not my cup of tea or alcohol so one taste was enough. Following this, we enjoyed a Greek-style, 4-course dinner, with drinks included. Traditional folk dances took place which was an incredible sight to witness! We even got to participate in a tradition of breaking plates which is said to be a sign of gratitude and good fun.
After drinking, eating and dancing, we discovered Kolonaki. An upscale area of Athens with vibrant nightlife and cocktails to boot. Bar hopping was fun, we danced, drank, and ended the night with a traditional late night meal of chicken skewers. It’s this moment I look around the city and it’s late, most are sleeping, it’s dark and all has gone quiet. But I feel so alive in this moment. Like I can do anything. The city has an amazing energy and I was only so happy to be able to witness it. Another night of little to no sleep but you forget about that when traveling don’t you? I found myself energized by the city and atmosphere alone. I love my sleep but I wanted to take in all I could for as long as I could. The next morning we would be getting to our bus by 7am to take a ride the port where we would be boarding our ship to begin our cruise.