It was day two of my first visit to Greece with my sister N and daughter A. As I mentioned in my previous post, "The Amazing Old World of Athens," we were spending a weekend in Athens and then going for a week's vacation on the island of Santorini.
It was a hot and sunny Saturday. We woke early and enjoyed a delicious breakfast buffet, which was included in our stay at the Athens' Electra Palace Hotel. There were eggs, fresh Greek yogurt, cereals, homemade waffles, fruit, croissants and more. With our tummies full, we were ready to climb to the top of the Acropolis, the most popular Greek landmark.
Touring the Acropolis
The Acropolis sits high on a hill. We followed the signs and bought our tickets on site. It costs $20 euro for a ticket to the Acropolis and $30 euro if you want to see all the monuments around the city. You can get your tickets in advance online or at the entrance. There was hardly any wait time on site. (Tip: Wear sneakers and watch your step because it is not an easy climb. Pack plenty of water bottles to stay hydrated in the summer.)
Athena, a local guide, was offering tours for an additional $20 euro. We decided to join her and were very glad we did. There is so much to learn about ancient Greek culture, and without a guide, it would not be as interesting.
We ascended the rocky path to the Theatre of Dionysus. "The first theater of the world was born in Greece. The Odeon was the auditorium. Theater means 'viewing things' in Greek," explained Athena. "The orchestra is in the middle. Actors are called hypocrites. Group therapy was the theater of psychotherapy. Soma means soul. The soul is the psyche. They improved the soul through the theater."
"Everything in Greece has its meaning," said Athena. She told us about Greek origins of words. "The Latin alphabet comes from Greek. 'P' sounds like 'c' and symbolizes the soul. When a word starts with 'eu' it means beautiful, such as 'euphoria.' Pathos is when you suffer. The mind is the killer and the healer." That's where homeopathy originates.
Reaching the Parthenon
We climbed higher. One thousand feet above the surface of the sea, we made it to the Parthenon, the pinnacle of the Acropolis. Athena said it took 90 years to build the Parthenon. The marble was slippery underfoot so we were very careful walking around.
It was an amazing feeling to be in the middle of such ancient history. As the travel writer Rick Steves says, "Climbing Acropolis Hill and rambling its ruins, you'll feel like you've journeyed back in time to the birthplace of Western civilization."
At the end of the tour, Athena recommended several good restaurants in the Plaka area for lunch. She also encouraged us to go shopping for jewelry in Plaka. "According to the Greeks, gold has a healing property," said Athena. "That's why there are so many gold jewelry shops in Greece." (Who knew? A good reason to buy gold jewelry.)
Eating in the Plaka Area
The Plaka neighborhood is touristy with lots of shops and restaurants. My daughter A took out the map, and we navigated around the winding streets to find Hermion, a restaurant Athena suggested. It had a full lunch menu, and we were glad to sit after our very active morning.
We decided to share a fish specialty of the day as well as a Greek salad, tzatziki with pita, and fried sesame feta—a popular Greek appetizer. It was so good, so good, so good! Did I say I LOVE Greek food? I do! I do! I do!
Tummies full again, we shopped the Plaka, stopped by the Athens Flea Market and walked back to our hotel, totaling more than 15,000 steps.
Dinner at the Cinque Wine Bar
Before we knew it, we were showered, changed and ready to stroll to dinner at the Cinque Wine Bar, a tiny spot where reservations are a good idea. We sampled flights of Greek wines—red, white, and rose—and dined on a lovely tray of charcuterie including meats, nuts, cheeses and bowls of olives. It was so good, so good, so good! Did I say I LOVE Greek food? I do! I do! I do!
Our Last Day in Athens
We spent our last full day in Athens at the Acropolis Museum. Entry is $5 euro, and we purchased our tickets at the door. (Note: Many shops are closed on Sunday in Athens.)
Built in 2009, this contemporary structure houses numerous artifacts from the Acropolis. A neat part of the museum is the entrance where you can peer through glass into the ruins being excavated. Next time, I want to take a museum tour. It's well worth a visit and boasts a fabulous view of the Acropolis.
This post originally appeared on aboomerslifeafter50.com.