Belated Athens Report

Jun 16th, 2006, 09:52 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 1,493
Belated Athens Report

I went to Athens in March with 40 members of my ski club. Athens was out 3 day trip extension.

Saturday we flew to Athens. When we got on the bus a man boarded the bus. He was hawking a book about Athens & 10 postcards for 5 E. He said we would be helping the Athens economy as well as Nicholas' economy. I bought b/c I liked his shtick. Also the postcards were quite nice.

Our Hotel was on Kariaskaki Square (Hotel Stanley). Although the public rooms of the hotel were quite nice the room we had seemed a little rundown. The view from our balcony was a deserted rundown shell of a building.

The first afternoon Kim, his Mom & my cousin, Pat walked toward Syntagma Square, we stopped at a fast food joint called "Casba" and had a to die for ham & cheese pie! (take away). Then we just headed back to the hotel.

The first night the entire group went to Tavern Kalokerinos (www.kalokerinos.gr). It seemed like a place for tourists but I loved it! The food was outstanding. The wine was delicious. The entertainment was excellent. The tables were all real long, like banquet tables. The waiters brought out appetizers, spanokpita, dolmades, moussaka, and some little spicy sausages (YUM), then there was Greek salad, bread with tzatziki & hummus. By this time I am stuffed. Then they brought out the main course. Some sort of meat cooked with potatoes in a small casserole served piping hot. WOW was that good! Luckily, I saved enough room to eat 21/2 Loukoumades that were served for dessert! They were warm & served with honey, YIKES! The band was so good & so was the singer. I wish I could have bought a CD. They also had dancers in traditional costume. Although both Kim & I thought the dancers looked more Slavic than Greek. I really wanted to stay longer & have another bottle of wine & listen to the music but we had to leave to catch the bus back to the hotel. If I had to do it over again I would have just stayed & taxied back to the hotel.

The next day, Sunday, a bunch of the group took a tour to Delphi. I wanted to go to Monastiraki flea market. So a bunch of us went there & got side tracked into the ancient Forum. We went into the Stoa of Attalos. One of the group wanted Kim to pose with one of the statues. (I had warned Kim about the whistle police) Kim pretended to put his arm around the statue & got spoken to by a guard. We wandered back out. I saw these things growing from the trees so I asked Kim what he thought they were & he said olives. So I picked one. I was afraid the guard had seen me & that I would be in trouble. Then I decided to eat it. Ick! I thought I had poisoned myself!!! Then the rain started. It was a toad strangler! By this time I REALLY needed to use the facilities. So we went to the "Metro Cafe" across the square from the train station. Mary, Pat, Jan & I had wine (water tumblers full to the brim with wine!) I was able to use the ladies room. Mary also had to use the ladies room and this was where SHE got caught by the whistle police b/c she tried to flush toilet paper! (Actually it was just another female customer who pantomimed to Mary "Don't flush toilet paper"). (I had read enough on the travel message boards to know not to flush paper.) We enjoyed our wine while waiting for the rest of the group to catch up. Then the rest of the group arrived. The Metro Cafe could not accommodate 8 people at a table so they sat at a different table. When we ordered the second glass of wine I knew I was in trouble! So I ordered a small meat mezedes. Oh! Was it good. There was chicken, pork, French fries, fried cheese, kefta, hummus, tzatziki, cucumbers, tomatoes, I forget what else. At least I did not end up under the table! It was the perfect amount for lunch for us 4 women.

So it is still raining cats & dogs. Dale wants to find this (Matt Barrett's) Byzantino jewelry store. Dale wants to buy his girlfriend back home a piece of jewelry. After a false start we finally find it. Dale spends some time looking & buying. He did end up buying her a really nice necklace.

By this time Kim & my cousin have broken down & bought umbrellas. (But not before their shoes were ruined. I TOLD Kim to wear his hiking boots & to bring an umbrella!) So while Dale is still looking at jewelry several of us wander off. It is still pouring down rain so we end up at a restaurant. I don't know the name but it was at 28 Kydatheneon (across from the gelato place). Paul & Carol split a souvlaki. They said it was great. I was still full from the mezedes. But I did have this HUGE piece of baklava served warm with honey. WOW was that good! By now it is about 3 pm & it has FINALLY stopped raining. Several of us wandered over to Syntagma Square to see the Evzones & the train station. It was funny, because after the Evzones did their march around the Tomb & took their places back under the little blue awnings by their little guard shacks the senior in command came over to correct them. He gave them instructions on how to march correctly & adjusted their positions & postures by an infinetestibly (sp) small amount! The train station at Syntagma Square had some great exhibits of Greek artifacts. Meanwhile the rest of our little group ran up to the Acropolis only to find that it closes at 3 pm (winter hours).

Of course the people who went to Delphi had beautiful weather (rats!)

That night 6 of us went to SHOLARHIO OUZERI KOUKLAS. Jan read about it in a guide book (also mentioned on Matt Barrett's website) & REALLY wanted to go there because they make their own ouzo & serve food tapas style. It took us quite a while to find it b/c her guide book called it Shola Rhio. We walked right past it and never realized that was the place! I really did not enjoy it that much. The food was barely mediocre. We had ten different dishes - flaming sausages, saganaki, pork, tzatziki, kefta, French fries, giant beans in tomato sauce, several seafood dishes, spinach, I can't even remember them all. And I suspect the dessert was halva. But the food was cold & not really that good. I thought the dinner the first night was MUCH better. It was a good thing I was still full from the mezedes b/c I did not have to eat much at Sholarhio. The wine was good. After dinner we all had to have a glass of the famous ouzo. It still tasted like jet fuel to me! We ended up buying a bottle of it. We wanted to bring a bottle back for our friend John whose famile owns the local greek dinner Kim & I like to eat. The restaurant does not typically sell their ouzo in bottles. However, the host, (owner, waiter, matre de'?) scrounged up a water bottle for us & filled it with ouzo & charged us 6 E. Actually Kim & I found out later that it wasn't ouzo. It was actually Tsporo (or raki).

On our second day we signed up for the city tour. Basically we were driven around the city on a bus. I would not do it again. The tour did include a tour of the Acropolis. But we were only given about 20 minutes. I did not have time to see the theaters or the museum. Well, next time. The we were taken down to the Plaka & told we had 30 minutes to eat. I don't know how anyone eats lunch in 30 minutes in Greece!

We were in the Plaka sitting on a bench waiting for the rest of the group. At the bench next to us were a bunch of teens playing cards. One of the famous Stray dogs of Athens was laying next to them. After we sat down the dog got up & moved next to us. A street vendor approached us. He was selling these little wooden toys. It is wooden tiles on ribbons and as you turn the tiles they fall down the ribbons. Mary had one and was looking at it. The vendor gave one to me. He was showing me how it worked when he touched my hand. As soon as he touched me the dog attacked him!!! It shocked everyone who saw it. As soon as the vendor moved off the dog laid back down. I don't know what caused that response. Did the dog really fall in love with me? Or was he just possessive of anyone who sat on that bench? After that the dog got up & moved back over by the teens.

Kim & I should have left the tour at the Acropolis but I had left my back pack in the bus. In the afternoon a bunch of the group went to Sounion. They weren't too impressed, (after Delphi how could they be?) but I thought one went there to see the sunset.

After we retrieved the back pack we walked all the way back to The Tower of the Winds ( Kim REALLY wanted to see this). Then we went to eat lunch. Now it was my turn to try a restaurant I had read about, To Steki Tou Zikou. I thought it was by the train station but actually it was MANY blocks away. And the farther we walked the madder Kim got. We finally find it. Although the name on the building looks nothing like what was in the guide book and there is no number on the building! We had souvlakis and Greek salad all very good! We were served yogurt & honey for dessert. But the portions were HUGE! Then Mary wanted ice cream so we wandered around trying to find ice cream. But we were finally exhausted so we went back to the hotel & fell asleep.

Because of the big lunch we had had nobody wanted to go out to dinner (except me). I did not want to stay in my last night in Athens. Kim, Mary, Pat & I went up to the roof top bar to see the Acropolis. You can barely see it b/c the building next door mostly blocks the view. You can't see the Acropolis from inside the restaurant either b/c the restaurant lights are so bright. The restaurant did have an excellent pianist. After a drink at the rooftop bar we decided to go back to the Plaka. Except we got off the Metro at the Acropolis stop and got totally lost! After wandering around aimlessly for about an hour I told Kim, "Let's hop a cab & get back to the hotel." So we did get to experience a wild Greek taxi ride! After two drinks at the hotel bar we had to get to bed & end our short time in Athens.

The worst part of the trip was the plane ride back to the States. The seats on the flight between Greece and Switzerland were extremely comfortable. However, the seats on the flight between Switzerland and the States were EXCRUCIATINGLY painful. They should be outlawed as torture under the terms of the Geneva Convention! By the time the plane landed my back had spasmed and I could barely walk. The CEO of United should be forced to fly coach overseas and not allowed to fly in the corporate jet!!!!!!!


cheribob is offline  
Jun 17th, 2006, 07:35 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 687
Thanks for taking the time to share your first time in Athens experiences. Sounds like there was a lot of learning going on. For instance, olives have to be cured for a long time before they are edible.

Sorry you missed Delphi!

Vera
Vera is offline  
Jun 17th, 2006, 11:48 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,121
Thoroughly enjoyed reading your report. Thanks for posting it.
April is offline  
Jun 19th, 2006, 12:06 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 184
cheribob. Thanks for the great report. Can you tell me the approximate price for a meal at Kalokerinos? It sounds like a fun place to go.
lilypoo is offline  
Jun 19th, 2006, 02:25 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2003
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Great report -took me right back to my first time in Athens.
carylspall is offline  
Jun 19th, 2006, 08:23 PM
  #6  
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lilypoo,

I believe the dinner at Tavern Kalokerinos was about $40 - 50 US per person. It was arranged through the tour operator here in the States. I remember each of us who attended the dinner paid $20 or $25 and the ski club paid the other half.
cheribob is offline  

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