Athens Day II

Woke up early in the hopes of beating the cruise ship crowds to the Acropolis (no such luck — they were too quick and we were too slow).  Had breakfast at the third floor hotel restaurant.  For hotel in a country that doesn’t eat breakfast, this place has learned how to do it right — Greek yoghurt, honey, museli, and the freshest honeydew melon for me; tomato and eggs for Pres; and feta and olives for both of us.  They also have do-it-yourself fresh orange juice, which is wonderful (they have really ugly oranges, which always seem to be the best).  And the view at breakfast is of the Acropolis, so lingering over breakfast becomes the order of the day.

That lingering, of course, made us a little late up the hill that holds the Parthenon and friends.  We spent a long time in line waiting for tickets, then a long time in line waiting for cruise ships tours 14, 21, and 22 to slowly make their way up the steps of the main gate.  But once you get to the top — wow.  There’s lots of space to walk around and so much to see.

Athens is hot in late July (as many of you warned us it would be), so we didn’t spend as long at the top as we might’ve liked.  We went down to have a black cherry frozen yoghurt smoothie at Fresko Yoghurt, then wandered over to see Hadrian’s gate (the inscription on the gate, roughly translated, is “this is my city, not yours”), and the few remaining — but impressive — columns at the Temple of Zeus.  We walked back to the Acropolis to wander around the Temple of Dionysus, then returned to the hotel for a quick shower (it’s hot here — there are many quick showers in any given day).

Lunch was a return to Paradosiako, since we’d liked it so much for dinner the night before.  We had another round of Greek salad and fava, and Prescott bravely (to my mind) ordered fried anchovies.  Then we went to see the changing of the guard at Syntagma Square, which proved to be one of the highlights of the day.  There’s no way to describe this well (I’m sure there are videos on YouTube) — suffice to say that it involves a lot of slow high-stepping, foot scuffing, and toe clacking.  Really impressive.

Almost all of central Athens (save for the hundreds of tourist shops in the Plaka area) are closed in Greece on Sunday, so we went back to the hotel for another shower and a long nap.  For dinner, we walked back over next to the New Acropolis Museum to a hole-in-the-wall called To Kati Allo.  En route, we passed a spa  that has fish treatments!  These are little fish that eat your dead skin — you put your feet in a tank, and they nibble on your dead calluses.  It’s like having tens of little tingly electric shocks all over your feet.  This was an incredibly fun experience.

Dinner was outstanding — we had grilled sea bream (along with boiled greens, fava, and a Greek salad) that was tender and tasty.  There was no menu — the host just walked us up to the counter and showed us the day’s offerings.  Then he sat outside and played music and sang while we ate.

As we walked back to the hotel, we decided that we wanted to stop to have ice cream and watch the Olympics.  Our ice cream cost almost as much as our dinner — that’s the price you pay for sitting out in a touristy square — but it felt really civilized to be out eating ice cream in a crowded square at 11:00 on a Sunday night.

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