A Grecian Adventure
By Lidiya Prasad
Cascading into thousands of islands, sandy beaches, and coral blue waters, Greece, undoubtedly, is a tourist’s dream destination. The air is exhilarating with a sense of wildness and wonder, and the people are extremely friendly and hospitable. After our twelve-hour long flight, which included a transit, our lethargic bodies craved a cozy pillow and a warm bed to rest on. But on arrival at the Athens airport, the vibrant crowd charged us up. The first thing that captured our attention was the huge tarmac and the bustling people. A busy city indeed! We couldn’t wait for the next day, for we fully knew an exciting adventure awaited us – exploring a centuries-old land that was once the cradle of art, culture, religion, and the western civilization.
Like any traveler in Athens, our first destination was the ancient Acropolis, a citadel located almost 500 ft. above sea level. A hike up here will leave anybody easily mesmerized by its charm and beauty. Halfway up, we made a pitstop to catch our breath that was almost running out. Surrounding us on all sides was the splendor of Athens, a now-modern metropolis that has retained its ancient charm. If the Acropolis and its monuments awaited us up above, the temple of Hephaestus stood out in the distance below among the numerous historical landmarks. Once up, the scorching late morning heat made us a little antsy but the beautiful ruins of an ancient city demanded more attention. As always, the place was swamped with tourists. The Acropolis contains ruins of ancient buildings with inimitable architecture and much significant history. The most visited of these is the Parthenon, apart from Erechtheion, Propylaia, and the temple of Athena Nike. The Parthenon has a beautiful history etched into its every pillar, every stone. The former temple was dedicated to goddess Athena, patron of the Athenians. It is considered one of the most important remains of Classical Greece and an invaluable cultural monument. Hands down, it is the most impressive and architecturally innovative monument in the Acropolis. On the northeast corner of the Acropolis stands a flag of Greece, and from up there, a breathtaking panoramic view of the entire city of Athens meets the eye. For all those who’d like to delve deeper into the history of these remains, the Acropolis Museum becomes a boon. Set only 280 km from the Parthenon, the museum houses the originals of every artifact found at the Acropolis. Having soaked up beautiful impressions of those ruins, it was time for us to head back to the city for a break, a well-deserved one.
There are quite a few restaurants and cafes in the vicinity of the Acropolis, including a cafe within the Museum, and most of them serve traditional Greek food, Mediterranean, and European cuisines. The only let down is that eating out is a tad pricey affair here, though the view makes up for it. We went slow into the evening and decided to take a local tour of the place. Plaka was on our mind since a few friends had recommended it for the many shopping options and restaurants. It is a clean and safe tourist location that is usually crowded with vibrant tourists by evening. We decided to take a night stroll here, exploring the town and its winding streets. For a moment we felt like we were transported to the days of yore, what with a breathtaking view of the beautifully lit up ruins and some cool breeze to go with it. Plaka is definitely the place to be at the end of a tiring day, sipping on a cold drink, with friends or family. Pro-tip, make sure you have your GPS on here, as the lanes are identical and often confusing.
Our first day in Athens was definitely a fulfilling one, and we couldn’t wait to see what the city had in store for us the next day. Monastiraki, a flea market township, can be easily reached from Plaka, via the metro service in a matter of ten minutes. This neighborhood is one of the main tourist attractions in Athens for the numerous shops that trade in everything, from trinkets and ‘I Love Greece’ tee shirts, to vintage vinyl and rare first editions of books. Bargain shopping here is as normal as it is in the chowks of India. The best time of the week to make a visit to Monastiraki would be on a Sunday when every Athenian is here, either buying or selling. Having spent a reasonable time here exploring every narrow street and possible bookshop, we decided to head out for a quick meal. By the looks of it, the Savvas restaurant appealed to us and we decided to go for their meat platter to quench a long morning’s hunger. The food was absolutely delectable, and the service extremely friendly. Savvas is preferred for its sufficient food portions and for serving the best gyros in town. Having relished a good meal, we headed back to our hotel room to rest before boarding our flight to Mykonos – the next chapter in the book of our Grecian adventure. Mykonos can be reached by either ferry or flight. Most travelers prefer the ferry since it is budget-friendly. Flight, however, is the fastest and easiest.