First Impressions: Athens
Hello from Athens!
We just arrived and it seems to be a very unique city. There is lots of graffiti, but the areas we are driving through seem to be good areas. The housing is a bit weird as well – it seems like every apartment building has a store or bank underneath it. It’s similar to NYC, but the apartments have balconies with a lot of flowers and ivy growing over the side. It is almost as if the city itself is in the middle of a huge modernization project. I’m looking forward to exploring it further.
I am now sitting in my hotel situated off of a side street about five minutes away from Athens main shopping area for tourists. Our hotel is gorgeous and very modern. We were told that if we make a right out of our hotel, we will have no problems. I don’t want to know what happens if we turn left!
After arriving at our hotel, we ventured to have lunch in the main shopping area. The food was the best I’ve had during my time in Greece that was actually Greek food – I’m not a fan of lamb, so I had a cheese salad called Taramasalata and shared a plate of fried cheese or Saganaki with someone. The Saganaki tasted like mozzarella sticks minus the breading. The Taramasalata was a bit weird – it was like a plate of ricotta cheese that was spicy. We finally realized that it was better if you paired it with pita bread. Once we did that our palates were satisfied. Lunch was really cheap, too. €6 including a can of Coke!
After lunch, we walked around the shopping area. We all bought a few souvenirs before heading back to the hotel. I liked the shopping area as it reminded me of the bazaars that we learned about in high school. You had to bargain with the store owners and get the best deal. Everyone here seems very nice & appreciative of the tourists, though.
Then, we walked back to the hotel to relax before group dinner which consisted of a gyro. I’m starting to think that’s all the Greeks eat – I think I’ve eaten it four times since I’ve been here. Gyros with French fries. Who knew the Greeks were so into French fries? Our dessert was really good! It was cinnamon battered apples and some type of flan-like cheese.
After dinner, we all went out to a local bar for a few hours before heading back to the hotel. Tomorrow, we have our grand walking tour of Athens – the foundation of Western civilization. The history buff in me is just a little bit excited!
Note: This post was originally published on May 29, 2012 in a blog entitled “Romeing Around Europe…Again” which chronicled my post-graduation trip across Europe.