#watsonsgogreek2016 {athens}

Like I mentioned in the previous post, we used Hellenic Holidays to help us plan this dream vacation.  Throughout the next few posts spelling out ALL the details I’ll be sure to let you know what was “included” and what we planned ourselves.

Let’s do this!

Day 1:  Saturday, September 17

Travel day!  We were responsible for booking our flight from North Carolina to Athens.  We flew out of the Raleigh airport and had a layover in NYC.  The flights weren’t horrible and I watched the movie “Me Before You” during our long flight.  Big Guy lucked out and was able to watch the ECU game during our flight on his phone.  We sipped champagne and enjoyed dinner at the beginning of the flight.  I slept a little bit (only 4 hours, I was hoping for 6) in between some crazy turbulence we hit.

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Day 2:  Sunday, September 18

We landed in Athens around 10:30am and despite being extremely tired I could not wait to begin our adventure.  One of the best parts about using Hellenic Holidays (from here on out I’ll refer to this as “HH” or Petros) was the fact that they handled ALL of our transfers the entire trip (minus cab rides to dinner, etc.).  That meant that someone was standing in the airport with a sign with our name as soon as we went through customs and claimed our luggage.

There was a little drive between the airport and our hotel in Athens but we had an awesome driver to pointed out various things along the way and before I knew it we were pulling up to the New Hotel.  This 79-room hotel is incredibly quirky and I loved the unique decor.  We typically stay in Marriott hotels but since we went through the travel agent we stayed at more boutique hotels in each location.  Our room was rather small but I’m fairly certain all the rooms in this hotel were rather small.  The city of Athens reminded me a lot of NYC.

Once we got checked in and freshened up, we headed out to explore and find some food!  After getting turned around a few times we finally found Hermion (a recommendation from our travel agent) and enjoyed our first bites of Greece.

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We explored some more and then headed back to the hotel to shower and get ready for the evening.

Side note about meals in Greece:  Breakfast is light (breakfast was included in ALL our hotels); lunch isn’t eaten until around 2:30pm/3pm and dinner finally rolls around at about 8:30pm.  This took some getting used to but for those that were worried, I adapted quite well.  Thankyouverymuch.

For dinner we took a quick cab ride (super cheap!) to Strofi, another recommendation from Petros at HH.  One of the hardest parts about navigating Greece was the difference in the English name and the Greek name.  Most restaurants only have the Greek name on the outside – but thankfully we were able to find everything – and everyone is super friendly and is more than happy to help if you ask.

Strofi has AMAZING views of Acropolis and our service was fantastic.

Side note:  You are typically sat quite quickly at the restaurants and give some olives and bread along with the menus.  However, it is not uncommon to wait a good 15 minutes before someone comes to talk to you.  It’s not you, it’s them.

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Wine is also incredible inexpensive, as is the food, so more often than not a bottle of wine was ordered and we shared many plates of food.  At Strofi we enjoyed the smoked eggplant salad and piperonati (red and green peppers with cheddar from Mytilini cooked in yogurt sauce) as appetizers.  Big Guy had lamb for dinner and I enjoyed fish.

We were both exhausted after losing 7 hours and couldn’t wait to crash at the hotel.

Day 3:  Monday September 19

Our morning started bright and early and we grabbed a quick bite to eat downstairs.  There was a massive yogurt bar and I was obsessed!!!  It was the most amazing “continental” breakfast I’ve ever seen in my life.  America needs to take notes.  Almost every morning I ate yogurt (it’s all Greek), some cereal or granola on top with a drizzle of honey.  The honey was incredible in Greece.

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After breakfast we were ready for our walking tour of Athens.  Our tour guide arrived at our hotel around 9am and we were off.  This tour was included in what we got from HH package.  The tour was private (just me, Big Guy and the guide) and lasted a little over 4 hours.  We ventured to the Hill of The Acropolis {including Parthenon, Erechthion, Propylaea, Temple of Nike, Theater of Dionysus, Odeon of Herodes Atticus, Areus Pagas} as well as a stop at the new Acropolis Museum.

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Big Guy and I are FAR from history nuts but this tour was so informative and I couldn’t recommend going the private route more.  Our tour guide got a feel for our personalities and we had a blast with him.  He even made a pit stop before the museum to grab some iced coffee with me.

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Side note:  Greeks drink coffee nonstop.  Not even kidding.  There are cafes every where and they are always full.  I think I understand why after having to wait until 10pm for dinner some nights.

We eventually had to stay goodbye but he gave us the most amazing recommendation for lunch and it’s the top meal of our first two days in Athens.  Manh Manh was a little difficult to find but it was totally worth the frustration and going in circles.

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We started with the Brusketa with siglino(smoked pork), smoked eggplant cream, goat cheese and fig marmalade.  Seriously one of the best bites of the trip!  We each got a salad and we should have ordered the half size – they were ginormous.  I chowed down on the Mani-Mani salad and Big Guy enjoyed the Twisted Greek salad.  {Here’s a link to the menu!}

Side note:  We tipped about 10% for meals (HH gave us advice on this, as we knew it was different than the usual 20% in the US).  Also, it is a requirement that ALL menus in Greece list when something is prepared from frozen ingredients.  This is noted with a “*” on most menus.

This is a MUST visit lunch or dinner spot and we even joked about going back for a second time – it was that good.

We did a little more exploring on our own and ended up at the Panathenaic Stadium which is made entirely of marble.

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Athens is full of so much history and I had the best time being a tourist.  We ended up keeping dinner simple and ate at the hotel restaurant, Art Lounge.   This was probably our most disappointing dinner but we had to be up super early the next morning so we weren’t heartbroken that all we had to do was take the elevator down a few floors before crawling into bed.

We received a phone call from HH before dinner to let us know that there was a change of plans for our first day in Crete.  Originally we were supposed to have our cooking class but rain caused them to postpone the class.  It had not rained in Crete for over 3 months – so they were all pretty excited to see the rain.  Also, HH was available our entire trip, if needed.  We were also able to give a personal cell number to our parents of Petros just in case there was an emergency.  Such a relief to know someone can find you when you’re so far from home.

Day 4:  Tuesday, September 20

Our alarm went off at an insane hour for vacation – 4:45am and our driver met us downstairs at 5:45am to take us to the airport.

I’ll see you later for a recap of Crete – a place a truly fell in love with unexpectedly.

Missed the first post?  #watsonsgogreek2016 {the planning}

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2 thoughts on “#watsonsgogreek2016 {athens}

  1. Pingback: #watsonsgogreek2016 {crete} | A Tasty Life

  2. Pingback: #watsonsgogreek {santorini + more athens} | A Tasty Life

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