After a quick escapade to magical Rhodes Island, my husband and I decide to embark back to the capital of Greece – also a place I have always wanted to explore thanks to my keenness for Greek/Roman mythology (or all things mythological to be exact).

Again, while Hollywood only seems to show Greece by its islands (like the tiny Island of Skopelos of Mamma Mia! ) or numerous movie epics like Clash of the Titans, Troy (none of which shot in Greece!) ; our impression of what Greece essentially is was pretty cloudy. Though only a short stay, what we came across in this country was beyond what we thought we could imagine or extract from those beautiful travel photos. Here’s our short but impressionable coverage of this ancient city. 🙂

First impression upon entering the Greek mainland. WOW.

Athens

The Olympics, the ancient ruins and gods and goddess. This might be what was running in your mind when you think of the ancient capital of what was once one of the most prosperous ancient civilizations of the world. That assumption covers pretty much 40% of the pull about this place, but what really stole our hearts wasn’t so much of the historical aspect of the place (coming from the girl who grew up watch Roman/Greek epics in the 70s and Asterix/Obelix) , but it was the people, the siesta, jovial mood paraded by the restaurant waiters/owners and the vibrant colors of the handmade souvenirs lining up the cobbled streets (maybe that last one was me)that took us. Staying in Royal Olympic Hotel was a great move (though quite expensive, so I would suggest other, more contemporary options that this one) , with a killer view looking out at the Temple of Zeus right across our 4th floor hotel room.

Spent a full hour just making up a scene from history looking at this thing.

A typically gaudy set-up for a 5-star hotel; all marble everything. An Instagrammer’s wet dream.

Despite its shortcomings (they charge everything from getting your shirt ironed at 8 EUROs A POP! and no mineral water/hairdryer), the hotel’s location was absolutely spot on, and located close to all of the main ruins and landmarks you can visit as a tourist.

Doesn’t hurt that the breakfast and dinner view overlook both the Acropolis and the Temple of Zeus.

So yeah, if you’re looking for an instagrammable hotel, this tops the list so far haha.

With a hotel so close to the main landmark, we took a short 3-minute walk across the road to check out one of the biggest temple ruins of the ancient world.

 

Temple of Zeus and Hadrian.

With that checked out, here are a few of the spots close to where we were in the capital. 🙂

Plaka 

This is definitely one of the places you have to take time to explore thoroughly while you’re in the city. Our hotel ;The Royal Olympic hotel is nestled right next to this area, a very bustling area with tourists teeming in the squares and the narrow alleyways of boutique shops and overpriced souvenir stores. There are countless restaurants and cafes around the area; ranging from 5 star (like Daphne’s which have celebs like Angelina Jolie, Steven Spielberg and more as patrons of the establishment) to quirky bistros selling their famous grilled selections of meat and freshly baked breads.

At the main square.

There are hundreds of shops selling these replications of vases, porcelains and bronze pieces like the one you would find in their museums. There are only a few that sells really good ones handpainted by experts (you can tell by some who actually sit in the shops actually painting these vases) or those who claim to sell those who are done by experts but are actually imprinted. So to actually buy any of these have to make sure they know what they are getting themselves into, or just stick to the expensive souvenir tees that you can buy for 30 Euros per piece.

So I’d say skip Plaka for shopping and just take a stop on one of the cafes and take tonnes of pics of this beautiful street. Also, make a recommended quick stop at Brettos to sample the best of wines and whisky, ever. Its no wonder that this place was voted the best bar on Trip Advisor.

Brettos: Husband smuggled 16 bottles of wine from this establishment alone lol.

However, if you’re a non-drinker like me, take your time to really sink in with the sights and sounds of the district – with its grafitti-stained walls and old worldy buildings. 🙂

Anafiotika

Just at the edge of the Plaka district (which isn’t really too far) is the upscale neighborhood of Anafiotika. This is a labyrinth of colorfully-painted houses that leads up to the Acropolis is said to mimic the Cyclades-like designed houses of Santorini and Mykonos. If you love nosing about for photos, this area is made for you; as you can check out small restaurants (5-star quality) while being entertained by Zorba music by live bands that really makes you want to dance to the tune.

On one of our days strolling around the streets, we were told by the guy in Brettos (who of by now have made friends with hubs) to go to Psaras for an amazing rooftop dinner experience to see all of Athens during sunset.

A short walk from the district (really about 5 minute walk) brought us to this:

Choosing to dine upstrairs (duh), the view was exactly what was promised. Choosing a pretty simple meal (since we have been pigging out along the way) , over a glass of sparkling water and what else, souvlaki, to this sight 🙂

Everything was very romantic. Very well reccommended!

Along the Anafiotika district, its a must to visit the Acropolis; the symbol of the Greek capital. We skipped the museum as the line was long, but we were told that the museum restaurant was one of the best in the world! Knocking that one off the list, we head up towards the peak of the Acropolis for a couple of amazing shots of the city’s panoramic views and bustle down below 🙂

The Parthenon <3

Theatre of Dionysus, yes, like the Gucci Bag Dionysus. :p lol

I know that you might think that these are just a couple of Athenian Columns portruding on top of the hill. While most of the time I do know what I am talking about, there are times when I don’t really have any idea what I was looking at, but at this particular spot, I was a little girl reliving all the epic scenarios in my head of what I have read about these Roman/Greek gods and goddess. After all, you have not been to Athens if you haven’t been to the Parthenon!

Monastiraki

Walk downwards from the Acropolis, and you will come across Monastiraki, a kind of Petaling Street of Athens where you would find countless goodies from snacks to fake designer bags. Stretched and linked closely between Plaka and Anafiotika, there are parts of this busy street that are cluttered with restaurants too, but moreso with shops of countless knick-knacks.

This area has prettier setup of shops and quaint little boutiques and best part is the souvenirs are much less expensive than the ones in Plaka (though still expensive by my book).

The main Monastiraki square with the Acropolis peeking at the back.

and guess what your truly found! 😀

Just right next door to this is the Ancient Agora, ruins of temple of Hephaestus and the Stoa of Attalus; a place where people carry out their dealings, businesses and meet-up for discussion back in its heyday.

We skipped Hephastus’ temple as it was already late. Be wary of people walking close to you, I almost had a pickpocket incident in my hand if it weren’t for my hubs dodging off the woman’s hand (you read that right- woman!)

Syntagma Square

One of the prettiest street/area in Athens. We didn’t walk much around here as they were numerous road blocks from a riot alert, but the purple blooms lining this posh street is quite the pretty sight. Aside from the very majestic embassy row, you can also find gorgeous Hellenic structures that are mostly administration offices and parliament buildings that are surrounding by lush, blooming trees n shades of purple, pink and white. 🙂

Take a quick stop to the site of Aristotle’s Lyceum, where the philosopher actually once strolled around these gardens and discussed his rhetorics and discussion among his students.

Will continue our out-of-Athens coverage in the next post soon! 🙂

xx