The morning started with waking up early at 6:45 to take the ferry from Poros to Athens for our last tour day of the trip. Breakfast was quick and we all loaded into the small boat and were whisked away to the city capitol of Greece.
Upon arrival, we had a bit of a time getting all our luggage off the boat (sorry to the poor woman working who was just trying to get everyone off this little ferry) but afterwards we were able to jump on the motor coach waiting for us, and make our way to the top of the Acropolis which includes the 2,400-year-old Parthenon and the Temple of Zeus. A note about Athens: with it being so old, I was glad I was warned by a previous trip participate about how graffitied the city is, as it was a shock to see how many tags were all over the buildings. The city had even received a renovation in 2004 for the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.
As we got to the Acropolis, we met up with our best tour guide of the trip, Marielena, who was a beautiful greek woman who spoke English very well, and was so chipper and welcoming that we all couldn’t help feed off her positive enthusiasm as we made our way to the Acropolis. Once we got our tickets, we hiked up the slippery marble stairway up to the Parthenon. It still has some scaffolding on it, but as suggestedby Marielena, we went around-side to the back of it and were able to get some great shots of the amazing temple. We then sat down right on the ground and Marielena told us some wonderful stories about greek words and how the names of the buildings came about, about how the temple is dedicated to the goddess Athena, the goddess of Wisdom who battled Poseidon for naming rights of the city (winning obviously, with the city named Athens, and the temple being built over where she placed the first olive tree in Greece).
The Acropolis, being the highest point of the city, allowed us to get an incredible view of all the temples and ruins scattered about the grounds, and even being able to see all the way back out to the coast.
Great view of the city
Afterwards, we all got back on the bus and made our way to our hotel, stopping at the Panathenaic stadium where the first olympic games were held, being able to hold 60,000 people at once to snap a few photos.
We arrived at our hotel named the Hotel Arion, which was a great hotel located very close to the center of the city. They were still finishing up cleaning some of the rooms when we arrived, so we were able to just leave our suitcases in the rooms and then head back down to the lobby to have Andreas lead us to lunch.
Our last hotel room
Lunch was at the prettiest outdoor restaurant named Asichlou Grill House that had us sitting once again out under an incredible trellis with patio lights. The waiter was swift as we each ordered 2 gyros and I got baklava for dessert. The gyros were fantastic as I got one regular lamb one and one with pork souvlaki. A thing to note about true gyros is that instead of putting a ton of lettuce inside, they layer on french fries, which are a good modification in my book. But the best part was of course, the baklava. It was perfect and just like home and must-have treat in Greece.
Baklava for dessert!!
Following a very filling lunch, Erin and I joined up with Diana and Sam to walk down the street to the flea market in search of small jewelry pieces. The market was packed full of little shops selling name-brand tennis shoes, leather sandals, greek-inspired jewelry and everything in between. We found a cute little shop where I found my 3rd souvenir: a little sterling silver ring that has a pattern known as the Greek Meander pattern that was for €8. I love it and can’t wait to wear it back home.
Erin and I then were very tired after all the walking around through the market so we made our way back to the hotel for a quick rest and to catch up on posting blogs for the past few days.
At 7:30p we met the group in the lobby and we made our way to Abpena, a gorgeous greek restaurant for dinner. We sat down in long tables and were served tzatziki dip, greek salad, meat balls, grape-leaf rice roll and two pastries: one filled with cheese and the other like a spinach quiche. They were absolutely delicious and then the main course was pork souvlaki with peas, carrots, and french fries.
Last restaurant of the trip
As dinner was winding down to an end, 4 dancers in traditional greek dance costume began parading about the center of the restaurant as a guitar and mandolin players play lively tunes! They crossed and weaved in between each other, and the men performed impressive high kicks and spins that we all applauded in laughter and entertainment. They did about 3 outfit changes and in between changes, had a gorgeous young woman singing and a man in a suit doing a wonderful dance about the floor, leaning in close to nearby customers as he swooped gracefully past them making them look up. We even had a bit of audience participation as they pulled a few people up to do a linked chain type of dance as we all pranced about the restaurant hand in hand, all the while yelling Opa!
Dancers (sorry for all the blurry pictures)
Dinner was a hoot and after the dancing, it was followed up by a bowl of yummy chocolate-chip ice cream. Afterwards we walked back to the hotel in which we went up to the roof’s terrace for an incredible view of the city at night and wine, courtesy of Andreas.
The group walking back after dinner
The city was chilling as the now lit-up Acropolis shined about the city, the Parthenon viewable from miles around. The group takes some last photos with each other as we slowly acknowledge the trip coming to an end. It was a bittersweet moment as we all look back and shared our favorite moments and are eventually scolded by hotel staff for being to noisy to neighboring sleeping guests, and we all headed back to our rooms for bed. Tomorrow we pack up and fly back home to the states.