Sunday, May 15, 2016

Greece - the birthplace of Western Civilization

During my visit to Italy, I couldn't help but notice the Greek influence in architecture and some cultural similarities as well. And then after reading how Greek influenced Romans beyond the architecture, I decided that I must visit Greece as well. Having been on a 10 day multi country trip to Europe in peak season of July, I decided to choose December for my Greece vacation - one the crowds would be less and two Greece doesn't get much colder than Delhi in winters - something I can easily handle.

Hence I planned a 7 day trip to Athens. Delphi and Santorini - later on we also added a day cruise to smaller islands of Hydra, Poros and Aegina. We took Air France from Bangalore to Paris to Athens, with about 10 hours layover in Paris that we spent walking down Champs-Elysees and enjoying a long leisurely lunch in sunny though cold Paris.

We landed in Athens around 11 pm and were picked up by our pre-booked taxi. This time we were staying in an apartment booked through Airbnb - primarily because this was Christmas/new year eve time and good hotels were very expensive and there wasn't any Marriott property that I liked enough to book. My decision to use Airbnb turned out extremely positive - we reached the apartment around midnight and had the caretaker waiting for us to hand over the keys and give a basic tour of the apartment and its amenities.

This one BHK (Bedroom Hall Kitchen) apartment was in an access controlled building (hence very safe) and was every bit as listed & as shown in photos. It was very clean, done beautifully, very comfortable and had everything that one might need. The kitchen was complete with all utensils and appliances and the hosts had also stocked all key essentials. Location wise also this place was perfect - a mini market just 200 meters away and a super market about 500m away. Plus Acropolis and other key archeological sites, Syntagma square were within 1-1.5 km radius. We couldn't have asked for a better start to our holiday.

Next day we woke up late as we were jet lagged and had slept only around 1 am. Keeping in mind the late arrival into Athens I hadn't planned anything for the first day. After having some coffee, we decided to step out for a brunch, we didn't know where to go so we just started walking towards the Acropolis and about 5 minutes later we saw a restaurant that looked promising - we were starving and hence didn't want to shop around a lot so we entered the place.

Greek coffee
The food was amazing and the prices were reasonable. Service was also fast yet courteous...overall a great experience. Later on we discovered that the place has great reviews on Trip Advisor.

A model reconstruction of Acropolis Pediment
Next we decided to visit the Acropolis Museum - its suggested that visiting the museum provides a good background for the actual visit to Acropolis and I agree with it. Museum is very well laid out, there is no audio guide and honestly there isn't a need for one. The information provided along side the displays is enough. The map given at the time of entry suggests a route one should take, we stuck to that and really enjoyed the 3 hours that we spent here.

Notice the ruins below the ground level

We spent the rest of the evening walking to Syntagma Square to buy a local sim card with data (Vodafone worked out well for us) and wrapped up the day early with some wine and dinner.

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