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Travelgirl's Trip of a Lifetime - Greece Excerpt - Athens and Santorini - from Summer 2006

Travelgirl's Trip of a Lifetime - Greece Excerpt - Athens and Santorini - from Summer 2006

Old Apr 27th, 2007, 09:23 PM
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Travelgirl's Trip of a Lifetime - Greece Excerpt - Athens and Santorini - from Summer 2006

Hello. In the summer of 2006, our family of 4 (me, DH, DS1 - aged 13 and DS 2 - aged 11) spent 77 days traveling around Asia and Europe. I wrote a long report titled "Travelgirl's Trip of a Lifetime" and posted it on the Europe board.

I'm going to post each country's section separately now, so the information can be searched by people traveling to a particular country. Happy traveling!



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Old Apr 27th, 2007, 09:24 PM
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Day 20 – Flight from London to Athens and Santorini

Our flight to Athens was at noon. DH got up early, worked out and had a continental breakfast for 15 GBP. I wish I had thought to mention to him that we could pay 35 GBP to upgrade so we could have access to the Club Lounge, where breakfast is served. We did that so the DS1, DS2 and I could have breakfast.

At the airport, we found out that OLYMPIC AIRLINES had chartered an AIR MADRID plane and crew for the flight to Athens. When we got on the plane, DS2 and I found that someone had thrown up all over the seat backs in front of us. The flight attendants told us to move to the last row of seats. But then some men came and told us those were their seats. They told us not to get up, they would find other seats. Very nice. The flight was 3+ hours long. There was no movie and no music. The meal was pretty bad.

A fellow sitting next to us was from London and gave us some restaurant recommendations. He said that he flies somewhere to vacation just about every weekend. Those lucky Londoners. He told us about a taxi ride he took in Budapest. The driver drove less than ten minutes and then demanded $100. The driver was yelling and threatening him. While the man’s friend went into the hotel to ask what the fare should be, the driver charged at the man. So, the man, who boxed as a hobby, decked him with two left hooks. The driver fell on his bum and ran away. The next day, he met a woman who said the same thing had happened to her, only the driver wanted $150 and she was intimidated into giving it to him.

We then had a connecting flight directly to Santorini. At the end of the flight, I could not find the bag I had stowed in the overhead compartment. This was the bag with our passports, tickets, money, credit cards, etc. Everyone left the plane and we were still searching for it. The flight attendant asked us to get off the plane, as the bus full of passengers was waiting to take us to the terminal. Just then, another flight attendant looked in a compartment at the very front of the plane. There was my bag. Someone must have moved it. Talk about being in a panic.

We had arranged a ride to our villa in Oia. The driver picked us up in a tall mini-bus. The trip was terrifying in the dark. We could tell that we were riding on the edge of a cliff. Not great for those who are afraid of heights. The housekeeper met us at the villa and gave us the keys. It is late, so we head straight to bed. DS1 doesn’t have any sheets on his bed, so we give him the top sheet from one of our beds.

Day 21 – Santorini

Today we wake up and check out the SANTORINI VILLA in the daytime. We are disappointed. It is a superb villa, in a magnificent location. But we feel that it is not maintained very well. There are gorgeous terraces, but there are no lounge chairs and many of the director-style chairs are broken. DS1 sits in a chair, which collapses. He suffers a few scrapes. The gate is broken. The housekeeper pointed this out to us when we arrived and said “problem” and “tomorrow”. Two of the beds have no sheets, as we discovered last night, so we go tell the housekeeper and she says “laundry” and we think maybe we’ll get the sheets later. The toilet paper holder falls off the wall. The living room sofa is a beautiful wooden frame with a piece of foam and a sheet thrown over it. Most of the white outdoor cushions and pillows have unsightly yellow stains all over them.

We call the owner to tell her about the broken chairs. She is sorry that DS1 was hurt and thinks there may be one new chair (yes, we’ve found it). We ask about lounge chairs and she tells us the house comes with what we find in it and we should talk to the housekeeper. We talk to the housekeeper and she says “no English” and gives us a card with the owner’s number. We call the owner again and she says we can have more sheets but not today.

We’ve rented houses many times before. In our opinion, never has the rental been in such need of maintenance. It is a shame, because this is also probably the most beautiful rental we’ve ever had. We’ve found this place through www.vrbo.com.

Eventually we decide that we will have to get over it. It doesn’t look like any of our concerns will be addressed, at least not for a while. And the villa itself is stunning, in a perfect location.

Santorini is charming. We visit a grocery store, bakery, ice cream shop, internet café, etc. It is very touristy, which is okay because traveling here is very easy. The tourists seem to be from all over. There are lots of little places to buy groceries. The prices are very reasonable, considering it is an island and everything is shipped in. The shops are open very late, so everyone is out strolling late into the night.

We have dinner at AMBROSIA. It is a small, cozy, romantic place. Friendly service. Not cheap (142 euros for 4, about $180). We think it is okay, but not worth the $ for us. DS1’s lamb shank was excellent. DS2 and DH had steaks. I had a seafood and fruit salad and also an eggplant appetizer. Tomorrow, we’ll have to search out a little local Greek place.

Day 22 – Santorini

We walk in the direction of the bus station in Oia, intending to catch a taxi to the beach. On the way, we pass Autoeurope. They offer us a good rate, so we take a small car for 2 days. I hope this works out better than the time we rented a car in Sorrento (Italy) for a day and had 2 accidents. We realize we’ve left our International Drivers’ Licenses back at the villa. These are required to rent a car here, unless you have had a Greek license for a year. Valeri tells DH to hop on the back of his motorcycle and they zoom off towards our villa.

After the rental formalities are completed, Valeri from Bulgaria recommends that we go to Monolithos beach and also to Mario’s Taverna for lunch. Both are near the airport, on the other side of the island. As we set off, he also tells us that the gas tank is almost empty and we should get gas as soon as possible. There are no gas stations in Oia and the first station we pass on the way to Fira is closed (today is Sunday). We are relieved when the next station is open. As we continue on, the roads are narrow, but the drive is okay.

First, we stop at MARIO’S TAVERNA for lunch. It is right on the beach and is just past Monolithos Beach, directly behind the airport. Valeri has told us that the owner is also a fisherman and that the fish will be fresh. The 3 men there are delighted that Valeri has sent us. They take us over to the iced fish and make a recommendation. We say okay to whatever they suggest. We have wine, toasted bread, tzasiki, olives, tomato balls, grilled octopus, pasta for the kids, and 2 grilled whole fish. We say okay to the octopus because they recommend it. It turns out to be delicious, although it is a tentacle and it looks exactly like a tentacle. The kids won’t touch it. I’m not sure what the attraction is with the tomato balls for so many people. They are just some sort of fried dough with bits of tomato. But, our meal is delicious and DH and I agree that we would like to come back here again, if possible. I saw lots of yummy-looking appetizers at other peoples’ tables that I would like to try. Our total bill is 86 euros. I think that 55 euros of that was for the grilled fish. Everything else was very reasonably priced. Most dishes are 5-6 euros, 3-4 euros for the appetizers. There seemed to be mostly Greek people dining here.

Then, we head over to MONOLITHOS BEACH. It is a family beach, with a gentle slope and calm waves. The sand is black. As the kids dig in the sand, it looks like they are playing in the mud. They look so dirty. We enjoy the beach and stay there until almost dark.

In the evening, DS2 and I watch the finals of the World Cup. Italy vs. France. As I go out onto the terrace to hang up our laundry on the drying racks, I hear the World Cup echoing across the distance from various other houses. There is laughing, talking and cheering.

It is a peaceful night. And, the villa is growing on me. It really is a lovely place. The view is magnificent in the soft moonlight.
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Old Apr 27th, 2007, 09:25 PM
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Day 23 – Santorini

It is lovely to lie in bed and look out our open door. We have a magnificent view over the caldera.

We spend some time doing laundry and cleaning the villa.

When we can finally tear ourselves away from the terrace, we head over to MARIO’S TAVERNA again. This time, we have wine, toasted bread, tzasiki, olives, fava salad, roasted eggplant, fried zucchini, grilled meat on a skewer, stewed beef in tomato sauce, spicy pork and moussaka. Everything is delicious and it is much more food than we can eat.

We take a ride around, meandering here and there. We pass the WINE MUSEUM, so we stop in for a tour and wine tasting. It is about a half hour tour in the caves. Very Disney-esque, with moving figures to illustrate each portion of the wine-making process. We taste, but don’t buy any wine.

It is a nice, relaxing day. Although we are generally doing very well together, these last few days we are all starting to get a little sick of each other. DH and I nitpick at each other. The teenage moments and childish moments start to irritate us more. The brothers have some less than brotherly interactions. On the other hand, we have many, many wonderful times together where we laugh and enjoy each other’s company.

I think this is such a change from the unfamiliarity of Japan and China. There, we bonded together, since we had no choice. Here, we feel more comfortable. Also, no one is paying any attention to us here, so we feel freer to act like our usual selves. The whole environment is loose and easy and casual. We can really relax here.

Day 24 – Santorini

We decide that we like the freedom of having a car. So we go see if we can keep the car for another 2 days. It is no problem. As we drive away, on our way to the other side of the island, we all hear a funny noise. Clackety, clack. DH finds a place to pull over (on the edge of the cliff) and we find a nail in our tire.

We turn around and drive about 1 mile back to Oia, on the side of the road next to the dropoff. I am irrationally scared to death, wondering if we are going to lose control of the car and plummet off the cliff. I think of the cross marker we have passed at the edge of the road. At home, this means someone has died at this spot. When we get to Oia, my knuckles are white and even DH breathes a sigh of relief.

The man at the car rental agency tells us the nail will be no problem and we should keep driving. He says it will only be a problem when it is removed. We insist that we would like it to be fixed, so he sends us to his other shop and a mechanic meets us. In five minutes, he has removed the nail and patched the tire. We are relieved to get underway so quickly.

We are trying to get to AKROTIRI, the archaeological site. I have heard that it is closed, but everyone wants to take the trip anyway. It is indeed closed. Instead, we stop for lunch at a little restaurant nestled in a small cove, MELINA’s. We order the fish platter for 2, which turns out to be 4 different kinds of tiny fried fish (sardine-sized and goldfish-sized). Very tasty, but we don’t know whether to eat the bones or not. We pop the tiny ones into our mouths and work on de-boning the 4 inch long ones. It is hard work.

After lunch, we decide to go in search of the WATER PARK. It is on the beach road near Pernissis. This road has a hip vibe. There are restaurants, bars, beach tiki umbrellas, beach volleyball, etc. Lots of twenty-somethings around. It reminds me a little bit of South Beach (Miami).

We easily find the water park. It costs 3 euros to get in, plus 3 more euros if you want to go on the slides. The park is cute, sort of like a hotel pool complex. There are 3 small water slides. Also a kiddie pool and a large pool. We lounge and relax there all afternoon.

A waitress bring us drinks. I point to what I want on the menu and she loudly announces, “You want a sex on the beach.” Yes, thanks. The drink is good and reminds me of a fuzzy navel. There is a man in a chef uniform, grilling skewers of meat. DS2 goes and orders two different kinds. They cost all of 1.20 and 1.30 euros each. We order some more from the waitress, but we miscommunicate and accidentally order the kind we don’t like. Later, she explains that the kebabs are the ground meat patties on the stick and the souvlaki is chunks of pork, beef, etc. We like the souvlaki.

It is interesting to observe people at the park. There is a lot of running and roughhousing. A couple of kids get hurt. Only once does someone come and tell some kids to settle down, after 8 of them have been pushing each other into the pool for about 10 minutes. Everyone is diving into the pool. It is definitely different than in the US, where the pool rules are very specific and regularly reinforced.

After the water park, we go back to the villa. While sitting outside on the beautiful veranda, a cat comes over to us and rubs up against us. She goes to the door and sits, waiting. Obviously, she thinks this is her home and is waiting to be fed. Finally, we can take no more and DS2 and I go to the store to buy some food for her. I am not much of a cat person, so I don’t really know what cats like to eat. The only things I can think of are tuna fish and milk. She is happy with these. While she is eating, two other cats appear. She is ready to defend her food, but today it won’t be necessary. Soon, we have 3 plates of milk and 3 plates of tuna fish. Everyone is happy.

Day 25 – Santorini

Today we’ve arranged to take a boat excursion. We’ve purchased the tickets near the bus station in Oia, for 20 euros per person. We meet at Amoudi port in Oia. The boat takes us out to the volcano. Now, I thought we were going to take the boat out to the volcano, ride around for five minutes and then move on. But, the tour guide tells us that we will climb up to see the crater of the volcano. What ?!? She says it is a 1.2 km hike each way.

We all hike up to the volcano. It takes about 30 minutes. It is very steep and rocky. It is exhausting. Near the end, DS1 puts my arm around his neck to help me out. He jokingly says, “Come on Mom. You’ve been training your whole life for this.” Yeah, my office job really prepares me for this.

We look at the crater. The views are beautiful. The hike down is easier, taking us 20 minutes. It is slippery though and several people slip and slide on the rocks. I sit on a bench near the end and watch the people passing by. Some teenage boys come running down at full speed. It is funny to watch the people going up. Some German tourists are singing a marching song, Einz, Zvei, Trei. An Irish lady asks me how much further it is. When I tell her she is only a quarter of the way up, she decides to abandon the climb and sit on the bench instead. We compare notes on our respective trips to Japan and China.

The next stop on our tour is at a hot spring. I tell DS1 to go ahead and jump off the back of the ship. He says “no way and I’m sure you aren’t going to jump either”. Well, now, of course I have to jump the 10 feet into the frigid water. DH follows me. DS1 and DS2 grin and inch their way down a ladder. We swim a little way and the water gradually warms up. The water is orange from the high iron content. The mud is said to have healing properties, so several people smear their faces, including DH.

While swimming, we talk with a young man from Singapore. He is currently studying in Beijing. He tells us that normally it doesn’t rain too much in Beijing, but now they are making fake rain in order to have everything look nice for the Olympics. I laugh and tell him it rained just about every day we were in Beijing. How do you make fake rain? He says he thinks they shoot some chemicals up into the air or something. Hmmm… Maybe I don’t want to know anything more about that.

Next, we go to a small island, which has just a few restaurants at a little harbor. Some people elect to climb the steps to the top of the island. We choose to sit and have lunch while we enjoy watching the boats coming and going.

The tour guide on this trip is amazing. She makes the announcements in English and German. No Greek people are on the ship, so she skips the Greek announcement. Some French people ask her if she can also speak in French. She can’t , but offers to do it in Italian. They understand Italian. The other thing is that she leads the trip up the volcano and then proceeds to give a 5-10 minute speech periodically along the way. While she is speaking, I am busy panting. I decide that in my next life, I will be a tour guide up this volcano. Then, I will probably live forever. Although, to fit in with everyone else, I will probably have to take up smoking.

In the evening, I go to the internet café and spend an hour catching up on my email and posting on Fodor’s. DS2 comes with me and checks his email and plays games. The hourly rate at the café changes throughout the day. We have paid 2.90 euros per hour, 3.60 euros per hour and also 4.90 euros per hour. I haven’t figured out the system exactly. I think the price depends on the time of day.

When we come home, I start some laundry while DH goes to get some pizza. A little while later, DS2 comes running in to tell me there is a flood outside of the laundry room. Sure enough, something is leaking from the washer. I don’t want to play with the electric washer while I am standing in a pool of water. Also, the outlet is situated so that the cord extends in front of the washer and across the room, strung in front of the door to get into the room. It is difficult to get in there to see anything. So we run to the housekeepers’ house nearby. She doesn’t really want to come with us, but eventually does. She seems upset with us because the hose to drain the washer has come loose and she seems to be motioning that we must have moved the washer. I motion that we have not done anything. She “helps” us by getting a mop, swiping the floor for one minute, handing the mop to me and then leaving. I spend the next half-hour fuming and mopping up the mess.

Finally, DH returns and we have pizza on the veranda. We also feed ‘our’ cat again. A dog appears out of nowhere and hops over our fence. We give him some milk, but he greedily scares away the cat and drinks hers too. After he goes, DS2 goes over to refill the cat’s dish. The dog stealthily appears out of nowhere. We wait a while, until it safe, and refill the cat’s milk dish. Now, several other cats appear and start to have a cat fight. We bang loudly on the pizza box and scare them away. We feed “our” cat milk and tuna. She is appreciative.

Day 26 – Santorini

Today is our last day in Santorini. We have decided to relax at the villa and do some more laundry. I have also talked everyone into going to MARIO’S TAVERNA for lunch one more time before we have to turn in the car. DH shakes his head at my obsession, but happily drives us half an hour to get there. It is wonderful, as always. (This is our third time there.)

DS1 and DS2 have a falling out in the morning, but by the time we get to Mario’s, they have made up and we have a very nice time together. I can sympathize with both of them. It is hard to be the oldest and it is hard to be the youngest. The main thing that I cared about was that everyone got over it and we made it to Mario’s one more time (ha ha  ).

We spent the afternoon reading and packing.

For dinner, we went to SKALA, which is in Oia. It was fine. We had tzasiki, onion patties, lamb, grilled shrimp, pork souvlaki and spaghetti. The waiter cut himself while opening our bottle of wine and got blood all over the bottle. When DS1 pointed the dirty bottle out to me, I told him it must be tomato sauce and wiped it off. DS2 then told me that the waiter had flinched while opening the wine and, sure enough, we looked over to the waiter and noticed that he now had a bandage on his finger. So, I got wet paper towels from the bathroom and wiped the bottle again and also washed my hands. We all somehow survived.

After dinner, we stopped at the Internet Café again. We all bought an hour of time and the kids were very happy playing computer games while DH and I checked email, etc. I received an email from a friend telling me that one of my friends at home was injured a few days ago. She was mowing the lawn on her riding mower, when it flipped over. She injured her back and has been in the hospital for 5 days. She is in a brace from her neck to her torso and will have to wear it 24/7 for a while. I hope that she regains mobility very quickly, for she has an adorable and energetic 5 year old little boy. When we get back to the villa, we give a call and leave a message for her husband.

We spend a little time packing and then go off to bed.
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Old Apr 27th, 2007, 09:26 PM
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Day 27 – Flight to Athens

We wake up and pack, feed the cats one more time and head off to the airport for our quick flight to Athens. In Athens, our luggage seems to take forever to come out onto the carousel. Yannis is waiting to take us to our apartment. We load the luggage in the trunk of his mid-size car. There are 3 suitcases hanging (really hanging) out of the trunk. Yannis assures us it will be okay. He said it is too long a ride to have a suitcase on our laps. The seats are black leather and the car is immaculate. Yannis is a handsome older man, wearing a neat t-shirt and a gold chain. He is exactly what I imagine a Greek man should look like. He is very friendly and speaks wonderful English. He shows us into the apartment.

We are immediately struck by how nice this apartment on Immitou Street is. We rented it from Carole. Her web site is www.athenspenthouses.com. I think they have a few apartments now. Our apartment (Beta) has just been renovated. Everything in it is new. Size-wise it is small, but a decent size for a city apartment, with 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, kitchen with counter and bar stools and small living room. The brand-new appliances are fabulous, especially the full-size washer and dryer.

Carole has stocked it with everything we could possibly need: laundry detergent, bounce sheets, paper towels, new towels, Frommer’s and Fodor’s and several other guide books, etc. There is also a welcome basket with toast, nutella, small tins of Greek specialties, wine, orange juice. Then, there are instructions on how to make a frappe, along with the ingredients. There is ouzo in the fridge and an information sheet on ouzo. Also, a map of the area with a couple of nearby restaurants marked on it. Of all the places we’ve ever rented, and there have been a lot over the years, this apartment stands out for the thoughtfulness put into renovating and equipping it.

We take a walk to the souvlaki place Carole has recommended. On the way, we walk past several cafes, which we find interesting. Each has an indoor area and also an outdoor area, with a sidewalk in between. There is a tent draped over the entire outdoor area, so as you walk on the sidewalk, you are in a covered area and feel like you are in the middle of each café. Many of the outdoor areas are furnished with sofas and lush pillows. There are fans and misting machines. It looks like most people are drinking a frappe, which I think is like an iced coffee. DH and I joke that we couldn’t get into one of these cafes because we would be carded and we’d be too old. This seems to be an area where fabulous 20-30 year olds hang out. Each café has a lovely young girl stationed outside to invite people in.

The souvlaki shop is tiny and very interesting. There are skewers cooking above the heat. One of the skewers has 3 animal (lamb?) heads on it. We ask about a second skewer. It is intestines filled with some meat. There is also the large turning slab of meat (pork) to make souvlakis. The kids opt for chicken kebabs and we choose pork. This is the first time in Greece that we have seen pita bread. We order souvlaki, which is either chicken or pork, with tsaziki sauce, onions, tomatoes and french fries. The french fries are wrapped right into the pita bread with everything else.

We stop at a bakery and get some pastries. We order about 10 small pastries. They are all similar to baklava. Made with phyllo dough and honey. Very sweet.

We also stop at a shop and get a meat pie and a spinach pie. Back at the apartment, we have a yummy late dinner, sitting on barstools at the kitchen counter. The air conditioning in this apartment works great, so we enjoy the respite from the heat.

Day 28 – Athens

In the morning, Carole drops by to visit. We chat for about an hour. She is very interested in us having a nice stay in Athens. I think it must be so cool to renovate and rent out apartments. She tells us to be sure to come up to the rooftop terrace in the evening and look at the Acropolis, while it is all lit up at night.

For lunch, we go to GEORGE AND ATHINA’S restaurant, which Carole has recommended. They have wonderful Greek home-style cooking. At lunch, you walk into the kitchen and choose your food from the huge pots on the stove. We especially love the vegetables, which are stewed with tomatoes and onions. We order: peas and potatoes; eggplant, zucchini and potatoes; and long green beans. We also have beef and rice with gravy, beef and potatoes with gravy, fried meatballs and spaghetti. It is way too much food and we take half of it back to the apartment for later.

After lunch, we take a taxi to the ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM. At the museum, we find that the kids are free. The nice lady at the guide desk tells us that they do not have audio guides. Rather, they have people you can hire to take you around the museum. Instead, she takes the time to show us the map of the museum and recommend how we should structure our visit.

The museum is interesting. The objects on display are beautiful. The guards are dressed in plain clothes, mostly white shirts and dark pants or jeans. They are often sitting on a chair, sometimes speaking in groups or on their cell phones. It takes me a while to realize that these people are guards.

We get in trouble when DS1 is taking a picture of me and DS2 makes bunny ears behind my head. The guard comes over and says, “no funny poses”. She then follows us around for a while. We see a sign that says it is forbidden to take pictures of people in the museum. We are not sure what that means. But, we behave perfectly for the rest of our visit.

There is an exhibit about the archaeological dig at AKROTIRI on Santorini. It was closed when we tried to go there on Santorini, so we are interested to see this exhibit on the dig.

After the museum, we go back to the apartment and decide it would be nice to rent a video. DH goes to the Robo-video store down the block. It has vending machines which dispense DVDs. He doesn’t find out until the following day that there is an option in English, so he takes a guess and brings us a couple of movies to choose from.

We decide to go up to the roof and check out the view. The view of the Acropolis, lit up at night, is stunning. There are tons of lounge chairs and a table and chairs to choose from. I wish we had more time to sit up here, both at night and during the day.

When it is 11:30 pm, we decide that we are hungry again. DH ventures out to get us more souvlaki. The kids ask him to bring an extra one so they can have it for breakfast the following day. I guess they like it. Anything with tzasiki (just like massagediva) ! DH says the scene is hopping outside at midnight.

Day 29 – Athens

We spend the morning doing more laundry in our fabulous full-size washer and dryer, with detergent and Bounce sheets. I want to do every bit of dirty laundry before we leave here.

In the afternoon, we head for the Acropolis. On the way downstairs, we find that our elevator is not working. So, we walk down 6 flights of stairs and down the street to the taxi stand. The taxi costs 3 euros. We have been so worried about the Athens taxi drivers ripping us off. We’ve heard it is a common occurrence. But, we have had no trouble.

The ACROPOLIS and PARTHENON are on top of a tall hill. Once again, you have to climb and climb to get to the top. It is very hot. It feels like 90 degrees or more. Plus, we are on rock and marble, so it seems even hotter.

At the entrance, we try to buy bottled water to take inside with us. We learned from a previous trip to Pompeii that it can get brutally hot in the ruins. Unfortunately, they don’t sell plain bottled water and we aren’t allowed to take any other drinks inside. Luckily, we do find a water fountain at the top of the hill, outside the small museum.

The site is under renovation and parts are surrounded by scaffolding. It is a nice climb up. We ask someone from a tour group to take our picture. They are from Taiwan. I tell them we were just in China and then say (in my best Chinese) “nee-how”. I have such a gift for languages. DS1 and DS2 giggle as we walk away and say, “Mom, you just said hello. Thank you is shee-shee.” Oh well, I tried. Luckily, none of us have learned any Greek, so I can’t mangle that language too.

The view from the top of the hill is marvelous. You can see Athens go on forever and forever. Hadrian’s Gate and Zeus’ Temple are in front of us.

After the Acropolis, we stop at a café. We are finally going to try the most popular drink here - a Nescafe Iced Coffee Frappe. Since we are hot and sweaty, it is cool and refreshing. I’m not sure it would be my standard drink though. Here, everyone is drinking them, everywhere you look.

Then, we walk over to DAPHNE’S for dinner. It is in the area of the Plaka. It was rated a 23 by Zagat’s. Price-wise, this was going to be our splurge meal in Greece (well, in addition to Ambrosia on Santorini). It is worth it for the ambiance. The terrace is lovely, surrounded by crumbling stone walls. The food is good, but much more expensive than the same items elsewhere. The service is very attentive. The waitress, in particular, is delightful. She takes a real shine to DS1 when he tells her that he will eat whatever she gives him. She tells him that he is one of the good ones and she can tell.

I ask her what her favorite dish is. She says “rabbit”. I don’t have the heart to try it, but later read on Zagat’s that you should not miss their rabbit. We have tzasiki, of course. We can’t have a meal without it. At home, this is always served with pita bread. In Greece, the only time we have pita bread is when it used to wrap a souvlaki stick. It is never served at dinner. We have loaves of bread or rolls for dinner.

For appetizers, we order cooked eggplant and tomatoes, fried cheese wrapped in zucchini and artichoke stew. Our main dishes are steaks, egg and lemon lamb stew (avgolemono) and veal. Their chocolate mousse with hazelnut crust is excellent.

We laugh and laugh during this dinner. We have the waitress laughing too. DH orders dessert but I say I am too full for dessert. She says DH’s dessert is her favorite, so I ask for an extra spoon. DH tells the waitress not to give me a spoon. Okay, maybe a small spoon. When she delivers our spoons, he tells her that my spoon is big. She hugs the boys and asks if their ice cream is all right.

After dinner, we walk back to our apartment. It is an hour walk through the city at 10 pm. DH assures me that Athens is very safe. DS1 and DS2 beg to take a taxi, pointing out that it would only be 3 euros. Our problem is that we don’t know how to tell them where the apartment is. It is easy to hop into a taxi and say, “Acropolis”. Getting home is a little harder. On the walk, the street signs are in Greek and also in English (sort of). After some bickering about which way to go, we finally reach our apartment and we are all so happy to be home.

When we planned this trip, Athens was just to be a temporary stopover. DH even proposed that we skip Athens altogether. I thought that two full days to tour the sights would be enough. Instead, we all loved Athens. I really hope we can come back here in the future and spend some more time here. We really wanted to see the changing of the guard (recommended by Carole and Stu T.), but we ran out of time. I don’t know what other sights there are to see, but just hanging around and enjoying the city’s vibe would be lots of fun. And I love this apartment.

I never thought I would say this, because I love London. But we are sad that tomorrow morning we fly back to London.
travelgirl2 is offline  
Old Apr 28th, 2007, 12:50 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 67
Hello Travelgirl,
I am glad you enjoyed your trip to Athens! WIsh you come again as you said and see all that you missed in your last visit!
Welcome!
Nikoleta is offline  
Old Apr 28th, 2007, 08:24 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 438
Travelgirl, I remember reading your first post which I found interesting then. I especially liked re-reading this section just on Greece since I think that will be our next trip in April of 08! My husband and I plan to go for 8 days or so and are thinking of staying in Crete and Santorini for 3 nights each and Athens for 2.
We're just wondering what the weather will be like in April!
Thanks for an interesting report!
Bettina222 is offline  
Old Apr 28th, 2007, 01:49 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 28
Hello travelgirl-2, I read your total report, section by section as you traveled. I am now finding a way to copy as, it's so great. Will you ever post photos of the different areas and of the four of you? Please!!!!
lsm8931 is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2007, 07:08 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 169
Wonderful report! Thanks so much for sharing.
nicegirl512 is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2007, 08:24 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 1,429
Thanks for the great report. I was deciding if I might want to go to Greece in Oct. Now I really want to go.
Might be the next vacation on my list of places to go.
I heard that Greece was full of stray cats, I am glad you got to feed some .
MarthaT is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2007, 06:49 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 398
Thank you so much for doing this. When I started planning my trip I saw your post but did not read it because it had SO MANY responses I could never take the time to find the Greece part. This separation was very helpful. We have five weeks until we leave for Greece and Turkey. I can't wait! Mario's here we come!
milliebz is offline  
Old Aug 26th, 2007, 03:46 AM
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 4,255
milliebz - did you make it to Mario's?
travelgirl2 is offline  
Old Nov 14th, 2007, 01:41 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,607
I know I'm a few months late reading this, but I really enjoyed your trip report.

I will be staying in Oia next May (at the Strogili houses). It sounds like Mario's is the place to be. How far of a drive is it from Oia?
cheryllj is offline  
Old Nov 29th, 2007, 05:31 PM
  #13  
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Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 4,255
cheryllj - Mario's is near the airport, about half an hour drive from Oia. To me, it was one of those local places that make me feel a part of the culture. If you make it there, please let me know if you liked it!
travelgirl2 is offline  
Old Nov 30th, 2007, 09:26 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,607
Thanks!
cheryllj is offline  

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