Adventures in (relatively) value-priced travel continue! Relocating from Chicago to the UK in 2014 was not cheap. So I have been on a travel moratorium. Cash flow has improved in 2015 though, enough that I was able to get away to Helsinki last month. With the four-day weekend in April looming, I thought long and hard. Where did I want to go and where could I go for a good value?
I really wanted to go to Athens. I am having a Greek Renaissance! All things Greek appeal to me. Greek wine, tzatziki, olive oil, feta cheese, all things white and blue, marble…all things Greek. The last time I was in Athens was 21 years ago! 21 years! So I did it. My new favorite page on the Internet is the BA Holidays page. All the packaged holidays! After a bit of playing around, I settled on a flight and a 3 night stay at the Crowne Plaza Athens City Centre. Done.
The things we do to save money. The cheapest flight meant landing at 3 am. My taxi driver drove 100 miles an hour into town, which turned me green at the time but in hindsight, got me into bed by 3:30 am. Five hours later, I was up and at ’em. Here’s what I did and where I ate and drank in Athens.
Food tour: Through Viator, I signed up for this lovely and compact little food tour of Athens. It was a great way to see the city. Highlights included a shop dedicated to products from Lesvos and a walk through the crazy busy meat and the fish markets. I had a good time on this tour, although I had skipped breakfast and was starving three hours in. (Tastes were a bit on the lighter side.) No fear though, the tour dropped us at Aischylos where we ended with pork GYROS. I love gyros. The Greeks have a way with the pita.
Heteroclito. After my food tour, I took a wander around town. Multiple newspapers had suggested a stop at Heteroclito so I dropped in for an early afternoon glass of white or two. Heteroclito is very tiny and very sweet. My server brought me little chunks of dry garlicky bread and was lovely in her recommendations. I understand that Heteroclito is heaving in the evenings, but for a Saturday afternoon, it’s a lovely spot.
Athens Walking Tour: Another tour I booked through Viator, this 3.5 hour tour took in all the key sights in Athens. The tomb of the unknown soldier, the temple to Zeus and of course, the Acropolis. Our tour guide, Aristotle (not kidding) was awesome. This was a great way to see Athens.
Kafeneio. I’ve written this before…the more I travel, the less I want to see things. I had the option of doing the Acropolis Museum after my Athens tour but I needed a break. I needed sustenance. I triangulated TripAdvisor and Foursquare and selected Kafenio for lunch and boy did I get lucky. I got a cozy table in the corner and as soon as I sat down, the gruff Greek proprietor approached me and said — definitively, like I like them to do — “I have cod today. It is very good.” So I had the cod and the wine that he recommended and enough Greek salad for four people. I liked it here. Popular with the tourist crowd but I don’t care.
Brettos. Lots of recommendations for this lively little drinking hole in the Plaka. And while the wine list looked pretty fantastic and interesting and the decor was super-photogenic — lots of colorful glass bottles lining the walls — the smoking and the crowds and the feeling that I would get my purse snatched any second drove me out. I would try this again if I could do it when it was quiet. I could tell that my server, while obviously Greek, had some attachment to my part of America. (New Yawk. Maybe New Jersey.)
Winepoint. Salvation in wine! After running away from Brettos, I headed towards Winepoint, and it was the best decision I made the entire trip. The lovely Amalie set up a little Greek wine tasting for me, each glass accompanied by delicious, delicious meats and cheeses and breads. Heaven! And there were electric outlets under the bar! And free wifi! I almost didn’t leave. But after two hours there by myself, I thought it best to go.
So there you go. That’s all I did in Athens over the course of 2.5 days, although I don’t count the .5 day because technically, I left for the airport at 11 am on my last day so really only enjoyed a lie-in. In hindsight, I wish I had organized this trip for three days. Lots more to see and do and eat.