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Athenian Ending

October 25, 2012

We’d been told by several people prior to our cruise that Athens, our final port, would be our least favorite stop.  One of my friends put it more succinctly: “Athens sucks.”  Despite these reviews, I was determined to approach Athens with an open mind.

Between the protests and riots in the city  during our cruise and the fact that it was the end of a busy 12-day trip, we planned a low-key day of sightseeing.  We were able to check in early to our rooms (that felt HUGE after a week on the ship) at the Athenaeum Intercontinental hotel.  After freshening up, we took a couple cabs over to the Acropolis to explore.

We had fun walking around on our self-guided tour.  It might have been nice to hire a tour guide and avoid a few “What are we looking at?” moments, but after so many tourist days in a row it was nice to go at our own pace.  The ruins themselves were impressive, though not as extensive as the ones we saw in Ephesus.

I was a little surprised by the amount of archaeological work going on.  It makes sense that a site like this require ongoing maintenance, but somehow hadn’t expected cranes on top of the Acropolis.  We were somewhat disappointed to find the Parthenon, which should have been the main event, partially covered in scaffolding.  We were amused to find out that the reason the Parthenon is being worked on is because a group of archaeologists have concluded (for like the fourth time), that the people who previously restored the structure put it back together wrong.  It’s good to know that it will be restored to its original appearance, at least until the next group decides this rebuild is wrong too!

Another thing that struck us about the Acropolis was the abundance of dogs roaming around.  Most had collars on, so we decided that they were probably the pet dogs of people who worked there rather than strays.  We just had to laugh at the fact that the first site we visited that wasn’t overrun by stray cats  had dogs running all over the place.

After spending a few hours exploring the Acropolis we were ready for lunch.  We wanted to avoid a tourist trap without wandering too far from the ruins, so my dad asked a friendly looking cab driver for her recommendations.  She didn’t speak much English (and my dad speaks zero Greek), so the conversation ended in her basically pointing to a spot nearby, saying, “Go there.  You ask.”  We walked somewhat skeptically to Attikos Greek House, a restaurant that appeared to be closed.

We walked downstairs to an empty restaurant and asked the one woman there if they were open for lunch.  She said they could serve us upstairs, and unlocked another set of doors to send us up the elevator.  We emerged onto a rooftop deck with a killer view of the Acropolis.  It was set up as a restaurant but totally empty.  We grabbed one of the (many) open tables and sat down, getting even more hesitant in the 5 or so minutes it took her to follow us up there.  Once there, she got on the phone (presumably to call someone to come in and cook for us), and got to work hosting us in this empty restaurant.  I assume that Attikos is primarily a dinner restaurant and not usually open for lunch.  (Check out this great review of dinner there)  Despite our initial hesitation we ended up thrilled that they decided to serve us lunch.

We ate some of the best traditional Greek food of the whole trip while sitting on that empty rooftop.  We started out with the best spanikopita I’ve ever had, along with grilled feta and saganaki (fried Greek cheese).  For my meal, I ordered moussaka, a traditional greek dish that looks like a lasagna made of layers of eggplant, ground meat (presumably lamb) and potatoes topped with bechamel sauce.  It made for a heavy but delicious lunch.

Mmm… Moussaka.(Source)

After lunch, we walked back to the cab stand to head back to the hotel.  The friendly cabbie who’d directed us to Attikos was gone, so we walked to the front of the line and asked for two cabs back to the Intercontinental.  The drivers conferred amongst themselves before telling us that it would cost 10 euros per cab.  It had cost us 4 euros to get there.  We knew to be prepared for taxi scams and told them we knew the cost should be 4 euros, but they responded that it would cost more because there was another protest at the Parliament building so we’d have to go the long way around.  We settled on 8 euros and got in the cabs – we were halfway back to the hotel before anyone realized that Parliament was in the opposite direction.  We got played.

Back at the hotel, we got too comfortable and decided to eat at the hotel’s restaurant that night rather than venture back out and brave the cab situation again.  The Intercontinental was a very cool hotel – the lobby was filled with contemporary art, it had a serene looking pool and the rooms were spacious and comfortable.  Before we went to dinner, my sister and I had an impromptu photo shoot in front of this blue man.

We were disappointed to hear that the hotel’s rooftop restaurant was closed and decided to eat at the more casual Cafe Zoe.  During dinner, we reminisced about the trip that was about to be over in the morning.  Subjects included favorite day (Santorini), favorite meal (dinner at the Four Seasons in Istanbul and lunch in Mykonos were the leaders), favorite dessert, favorite souvenir, etc.  You know it’s been a wonderful trip when you’re nostalgic before it’s even over!

At the end of the meal, we were treated to a sampler of baklava and other Greek pastries on the house.  It was a sweet way to end an amazing vacation.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Jamie permalink
    October 25, 2012 9:10 am

    Lolo, I loooove all your posts! You captured the trip so beautifully! I’m so sad it’s over but so glad it’s immortalized in your blog. 🙂 xoxo

  2. Henne Rausenberger permalink
    October 26, 2012 2:51 pm

    I have just ended my awesome Med Trip and am feeling very sad that there will be no more blogs. I had a wonderful time, thank you Lauren. Henne

    On Thu, Oct 25, 2012 at 10:12 AM, Peaks and Passports wrote:

    > ** > Lauren @ Peaks and Passports posted: “We’d been told by several people > prior to our cruise that Athens, our final port, would be our least > favorite stop. One of my friends put it more succinctly: “Athens sucks.” > Despite these reviews, I was determined to approach Athens with an open > mind.”

  3. October 27, 2012 6:35 am

    Great pictures – you did well to get those shots without people!

  4. November 11, 2012 11:56 am

    What a beautiful job you have done capturing our trip in words and photos!
    I’ve re-read your posts from start to finish several times just to keep it all fresh for me, and shared it with friends. Where shall we go next???

    • November 13, 2012 9:51 am

      Thank you! We need to go somewhere fabulous again… a wine and food trip through Tuscany? Argentina? Costa Rica? Family safari? Ahhh so many options, so little vacation time!

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