This was a Sunday and we had already planned to be at the Parliament Square (Syntagma) to watch the Change of Guard ceremony. Reached the spot at 10.30 am; the ceremony began around 10.45 and ended by 11.30 am. Interesting spectacle watching the Evzones and their royal gear!!
Went around the Parliament building and walked through the National Garden to reach Zappeion a landmark building, which is currently used for conferences and exhibitions. Spent some time looking around the building and a week-end market inside the halls.
Came out and hailed a taxi to make our way to the planned lunch at Avacado restaurant at Nikis, highly recommended by TA members. We had to wait for about 20 minutes as the place is popular and the number of tables is also limited. True to its status the restaurant’s menu was very unique with several signature dishes. We ordered a mix of Asian and Mediterranean- Spicy Thai soup, Falafel, Mushroom forest burger, Om Shanthi -a delicious creamy curry and rice- and a Carrot Cake total cost Euro 23 for three pax). The food was very delicious!! Not to be missed. Unfortunately they don’t take reservations so you have to reach and wait until you are seated.
After a relaxed lunch took a taxi to reach Lycabettus hill. Took the cable car to the top and enjoyed the panoramic views of the sprawling city as we waited for the sunset. As the sun went down and the lights went up, it was spectacular to see the Acropolis lit up against the backdrop of Aegean Sea afar. There is a small but beautiful church atop.
Getting a taxi on return may be tricky. A couple of taxi guys waiting at the gate wouldn’t switch on the meter and were demanding a fixed (higher) fare. We waited a while and soon there was a taxi which we jumped in and reached our apartment early, as we had to pack up and leave for Santorini by the next morning flight.
We had a great 4 nights 3 days stay at Athens and our experience was mixed; on one side you have the classical Athens, once the cradle of western civilisation and birthplace of democracy with impressive architecture, most of which are in ruins leaving it all to our imagination and on the other side the modern Athens – a sprawling mega city teaming with people everywhere and nightmare traffic in narrow roads.
Day 1. Reached Acropolis entrance around 10 am. Not many visitors and the weather was pleasant. First stop was Theater of Dionysus and then walked up via the Odeon of Herodes Atticus theatre (much better preserved than Theater of Dionysus and reached the grand edifice The Parthenon grounds. The area around main Parthenon Temple is cordoned off due to renovation work so we had to just go around the temple amid ruins and renovation debris. You can also see the Lycabettus hill and the modern Athens city jungle from the Acropolis. Spent little more than an hour and walked down to Roman Agora through winding lanes.
Theater of Dionysus
Passed the Athens University Museum and stopped at a cute little café Klepsydra(?) for some Baklawa and coffee. Reached Roman Agora and were put off by the aggressive hawkers (looked like Africans?) at the gate trying to sell some color threads. The Roman Agora was a disappointment as there was practically nothing except a few pillars.
Moved on to Adrianou Street to reach Ancient Agora. We were hungry by now, partly due to the mixed aroma of food from the restaurants lining up the street. Had a quick lunch at a corner restaurant with a local beer Mythos. Just realized that it was past 3 pm and the Ancient Agora was closed for the day.
Walked in to the by lanes visiting the several colourful shops selling souvenirs, knickknacks, clothes etc. Bought ice cream at the Hans &Gretel themed confectionery shop and walked further to realize we were already into the thick of Monstiraki Flea Market! The market was teaming with people locals as wells tourists. Spent a couple of hours in the area and then took the metro from the Monastiraki Station and reached our accommodation close to Acropolis Museum station.
Hans and Gretel!!!