Walking around Athens is really easy providing you are fit enough (to cope with both distance and temperature), then it really isn’t at all necessary to use public transport.
It’s always about the food
For our food related experience today, we went to the Athens Central fish and meat market. As an added bonus, this market is in a food area, so gourmet providore shops selling meats, spices, cheeses, vinegars, oils and all other sorts of goodies were all around us, providing us with a few solid hours of food exploring.
Visiting the market areas
There are many wonderful market places in Athens, but the most well known is the Monastiraki Markets, where you will find anything your heart desires….and more.
A mix of old and new, authentic and fake, beautiful and downright weird, there is something for everyone, even if it is only browsing that you are interested in. Greek herbs and spices necessary for making traditional souvlaki sit alongside peppercorns, vinegars and oils.
There are bakeries selling Greek pastries, many of which are made without dairy or egg, a culinary protection against the high temperatures experienced here. Shoes, leather bags, t-shirts by the hundreds line the narrow street, where vendors sell their wares from long thin shops secured by roller doors at the street face.
Jewellery, soaps, lotions and potions and all things pottery are also favourites of the people who shop here.
At the end of the market street is Monastiraki Square which seemed like a great place to stop for coffee.
The architecture is beautiful
Walking around gives you enormous opportunity to observe the wonderful architecture. I couldn’t help but think that some of these buildings looked very similar to those we saw in Cuba. A little strange given their respective locations in the world.
Gyros and souvlaki – a must eat
I’ve discovered I’m a bit partial to gyros and it’s cousin souvlaki. Gyros, with the most wonderfully cooked meat, lettuce, onions, tzatziki and french fries, all wrapped in a pita bread is pure gold.
Gyros turns into souvlaki when it is plated, as opposed to being in a hand held pita, and the price increases for the pleasure of being able to sit down and eat. Gyros, filled until it literally can’t fit another french fry in, can be bought for around 2 euro. Even converted to Aussie dollars, it’s an absolute bargain. Pork, chicken, beef or lamb is really the only decision I have to make!
We stopped today at one of the well known gyros establishments, Bairaktaris Taverna for yet another serving of souvlaki, whilst my husband enjoyed a traditional moussaka.
An oasis in the hot city
To take respite from the early afternoon heat, we found the National Gardens, a massive green expanse situated right in the centre of Athens. The tall trees offered an immediate sanctuary from the blinding sun and the chairs dotted around the park a welcomed opportunity to rest our hard working feet for a while.The omni-present riot police on most corners of central Athens and around the consulates and ambassadorial lodgings are a sign of the frequent political instability in Greece at the moment.
Get up high
We took advantage of our fabulous rooftop bar again with a well earned cocktail or two, sitting in our comfy lounge chairs where we could stare at the Acropolis once more. It was quite surreal sitting here as it almost felt as though we could touch it.
Our hotel had an amazing view of the Acropolis. I actually believe it makes complete sense to stay close by to the Acropolis, given its central location to so many of the important parts of the city.
Dave from Dave’s Travel Pages has put together a great list of hotels around the Acropolis.
Fine cuisine as well
I was finally forced to tear myself away from souvlaki when we found Mono Restaurant and Wine Bar, tucked into a street in the Plaka, not far from the main Cathedral. Mono, decorated in a modern design and with a solid wine list, delivered an equally modern level food that is becoming a new addition to the Greek food industry.
In the not too far off distance, we could see the Acropolis starting to light up the night sky against the fading backdrop of the sun. It was another exceptional day walking around Athens.
Kerri now travels regularly with her husband, Stirling, where eating great food, drinking quality beer and wine, and cooking international foods are integral to their adventures.