Category Archives: Family

Greek Holiday – Part 3

You can catch up on the first two parts of my Greek Holiday here.

Santorini

After Athens, we flew down to Santorini for three days. Santorini is one of the many Greek island in the Cyclades. It is known for the famous white buildings and blue roofs that can be found scattered around the entire island. It is also has some nice beaches, although the weather was not exactly warm enough to enjoy the beach while we were there.

There are three or four popular towns on the island: Fira, Oia and Kamari. We stayed at the quaint Hotel Anassa in Kamari, which is on the southeast side of the island, near the airport.

Kamari Beach

Kamari can best be described as a beach town. A long strip of restaurants, bars and shops line the beach and offer both indoor and outdoor seating. A number of the restaurants even had their own beach chairs and umbrellas for customers.

One of these restaurants is the Prince Bar & Restaurant. After getting settled at the hotel, we took a walk down the main road in Kamari and decided to have a late lunch at the Prince mainly because it was the busiest of all the restaurants. Patrons equal good food and service right?

Well, in this case, it did. The weather was perfect, so we sat outside and took in the weather, the view and the delicious food. For lunch, I chose to order the moussaka. It was delicious!

Of course, being on holiday and with the weather so nice, enjoying a beer with lunch was a natural choice 🙂 The service at Prince was great and the servers were extremely nice. We enjoyed it so much that we ate there again on our last day.

I absolutely love Mythos Beer!

That evening, still full from our late lunch, we decided to just take a walk through Kamari and perhaps stop in somewhere for coffee and dessert. I’m not sure if it were there early in the season, or if it evenings in Kamari are generally quiet, but there weren’t every many people out.

So again, we chose a restaurant that looked the busiest. We ordered baklava (when in Greece…) and Greek coffee. I’m pretty sure the baklava they brought us was the largest piece I have EVER seen! Here is half of it…

Greek coffee is most similar to Turkish coffee, so mom had the brilliant idea that we should turn them over when we finished and attempt to read our fortunes. This practice is known as Tasseography, and you can read more about it here.

So what was my fortune? Well, here’s a photo of my cup. Feel free to comment with you think you see.

What do you see in the coffee grinds?

On our first full day in Santorini, we decided to explore the town of Fira. Fira is the capitol of Santorini and it is the most central of all the towns. All of the local buses go through Fira and it is arguably the most popular with tourists.

*Side note – Local buses are not frequent, but they are on time. Check the schedule, and arrive 10 minutes or so before the time. The cost was around €2 per person, and tickets can be purchased on the bus.

Artifacts from the museum in Fira

Another artifact - made from pure gold

There was one historical museum in Fira, but otherwise it is a great place to walk, shop, eat and ride a donkey.

That’s right, a donkey! Okay, it was actually a mule, but advertized as a donkey. Let me explain…

The town of Fira is at the top of a steep mountain by the sea. This was also the location of the old port. Thanks to modern technology, a cable car has been built to transport people from the town to the old port and back. However the old path that zigzagged up the mountain is still there, as are the mules that would carry people and their things up and down the mountain. These days visitors have three choices when it comes to getting up or down the mountain: the cable car, walking the old path, or riding a mule.

The view from Fira down to the old port

My dad and I chose to take the cable car down and then ride the mule back up the mountain. I think this was the best decision considering how bumpy the mule ride was and how scary that would have been going down hill. Mom took the safe route back up on the cable car, but that meant she was able to get some photographs of us embarking on our journey.

My ride up the mountain

All smiles on the way up!

Even dad was having a good time!

Me and my new friend

When we safely made it back to the top of the mountain, it was time for lunch!

I did some research and found a fantastic place called Ellis Restaurant in Fira. Ellis is tucked away on the mountain, but very easily accessible and boasts a magnificent ocean view.

The highlight here was, without a doubt, the beer battered eggplant (aubergine) with pita and tzatziki sauce. It was delicious!

Beer battered eggplant at Ellis

Their Greek salad at Ellis was also one of the best (and prettiest) we had on the trip.

The Greek Salad

Again, the service here was fantastic, and I’m not just saying that because the waiter brought us free homemade dessert!

Yummy!

I would definitely say that Ellis gets the award for best meal in Greece. If you’re ever in Santorini, be sure to have a meal there!

Our excursion boat Jason

On our last full day in Santorini, we booked a boat excursion around the island. Now, had the weather been about ten degrees warmer (Fahrenheit), this would have been a fantastic way to spend the day. The boat made stops so you could go swim, and took us from the southern part of the island all the way to the northern town of Oia. Needless to say, we did not swim, but at least got a great view of the island from the water. I was also dying to visit Oia (pronounced E-ya), so it was still a great day.

Oia is most famous of the white buildings and blue roofs. That combination can be found throughout Santorini, but the ones in Oia are the most photographed and recognized.

Here are some photos from our amazing day on the boat and our visit to Oia.

I'm on a boat!

A man actually lives here

The town of Oia

And that concludes our trip to Santorini!

Stay tuned for the fourth and final part of my Greek holiday, as we head to the island of Crete.

Ciao,

Sheila

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Greek Holiday – Part 2

If you missed part 1 of the Greek Holiday series (oh yes, it is going to be a series), just click here. Now, onto part 2!

Athens (Day 2)

On our second day in Athens, we continued our Greek God quest by kicking off the day at the Temple of Zeus.

Temple of Zeus

The building was commissioned by the tyrant ruler of Athens, Peisistratos in 515 BC, but after his fall, the people refused to continue building. It was picked up again for 9 years between 174 BS and 163 BC, and finally completed in AD 131 by Emperor Hadrian.

Originally there were 104 columns, but only 16 remain standing now.

Mom, Me and Dad at the Temple of Zeus

A number of smaller temples also stood on those grounds throughout history, however very little remains now. At the far end of the grounds, there is a beautiful arch named after Hadrian. Is there a major city in Europe that doesn’t have an arch? Feels like most of them do.

Hadrian's Arch

After the Temple of Zeus, we made are way back to the foot of the Acropolis where the Dionysus Theatre is located.

Dionysus Theatre

The theatre is named after the god of wine and patron of drama, and seated around 15,000 people. Built in 325 BC, tragedies and comedies by playwrights like Sophocles and Euripides were performed at the theatre.

The theatre was located near the temple of Dionysus, and the seats in the front row were reserved for the priests of Dionysus. The seats in the front row still contain engravings, perhaps indicating who the seat was reserved for.

Engraved seats in the front row

 The theatre eventually fell into disuse, but was went under some restoration in 61 AD by the Roman emperor Nero.

Engraved marble seats

After visiting the theatre, we moved on to the Roman Forum and Tower of Winds. Between the 1st and 19th century, the Roman Forum was a commercial and administrative centre. Not much remains there now, and therefore I failed to take photos. Sorry 😦

That evening we went to a quaint, family run restaurant near our hotel. Tucked away at the bottom of Lykavittos Hill, To Ouzadiko offers traditional Greek food at reasonable prices. I ordered a delicious lamb and eggplant dish.

Dinner at To Ouzadiko

When we finished dinner, we headed back to the hotel, the Hilton, where we had access to the executive lounge. The lounge is only available to guests staying on the top three floors, and every day they offered breakfast, afternoon tea/coffee and cakes, and evening cocktails and appetizers. All of this can be enjoyed on the fantastic balcony, which happens to have a view of the Acropolis. This also meant we had a fantastic view of the sunset every night.

Athens Sunset

The city lights come on

The Acropolis at Night

And that sums up the Athens portion of my Greek Holiday!

In part 3 of the Greek Holiday series we head to Santorini! Check back soon, or just sign up for the mailing list to stay up to date on blog posts.

Ciao,

Sheila

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Greek Holiday – Part 1

After years of failed attempts, and then months of planning, the Greek holiday I had been wanting to go on finally became a reality in May 2011. The parents and I embarked on our 10 day adventure on May 5th as we met at Heathrow airport, and headed to our first stop…

Athens

By the time we arrived at our hotel, it was early evening so we decided to just go for a walk, and get to bed early so we would be ready to start early the next day. Also, Mom and Dad had  been traveling for about 21 hours at that point so they were exhausted!

The Acropolis

On our first full day, we decided to visit the big sight to see: the Acropolis. Most of you probably don’t know this, but I have been fascinated with Greek mythology for years. I was very excited to see not only the Parthenon, but also the lesser known sights like the Temple of Zeus.

I love cities that recognize what tourists want to see, and create one ticket that gives them access to most of those places. I saw this in Verona, and then again in Athens. For 12 euros, tourists can gain access to the Acropolis, the Roman Forum, Temple of Zeus, Dionysus Theatre, The Agora, and Kerameikos. The ticket is valid for 4 days. An added bonus for students: those studying in the EU get into all these attractions for free, and outside the EU get 50% off the regular ticket (need a valid student ID, or even better, an international student ID card).

Anyway, back to the Acropolis…

On the walk up, we passed by the Herodes Atticus Theatre (below). Built in 161, this theatre is still used for the Athens Festival in the summer.

Mom and I at the Acropolis

From there, we continued up the mountain towards the Temple of Nike (“Victory”) and then the Parthenon.

Temple of Nike

Completed in 438 BC, the Parthenon was a temple for the greek goddess Athena. As with many old monuments, the Parthenon was under construction, hence the scaffolding around the front of the building.

The Parthenon (the front)

At the new Acropolis Museum, there was a fantastic video that described how the Parthenon looked when it was completed and how it has been attacked many times (it was even set on fire at one point). I think it is amazing that so much of the structure is still standing!

The Parthenon (the back)

Also on the Acropolis mountain is the Erechtheion, where according to myth, Athena and Poseidon battled for patronage of Athens. The building design brings together separate temples for the two gods. In case you didn’t figure it out, Athena won the battle, hence the name for the city, Athens.

The Erechtheion

The statue pillars below are actually replicas. The originals have been taken inside the new Acropolis Museum for protection.

Closer look at the temple

Okay, now a few more pictures before we move on to the new Acropolis Museum.

Dad and I in front of the Parthenon

In front of the Temple of Nike

After the Acropolis, we made our way to the new Acropolis Museum. The new museum, which opened in 2009, is 10 times larger than the old museum and filled with around 4,000 artifacts. Many of the artifacts from the Acropolis were removed in 1799 by an Earl and taken to England. They were later sold to the British Museum, which now showcases them and refuses to return them. The Greek government hopes that with this new, much larger museum, they can force the British Museum to return the artifacts.

The new Acropolis Museum

The museum is not included in the 12 euro ticket. It costs 5 euros for adults, and again, entrance is free for students.

As mentioned before, at the museum you can watch a great video depicting the history of the Parthenon. There are sculptures from the temples, the original statued pillars from the Erechtheion and a life-size recreation of the frieze around the top of the Parthenon is located on the top floor.

Outside the museum, excavations are still taking place, as more artifacts are uncovered. Visitors can watch the workers from above as they enter and exit the museum.

Outside the museum

We decided to walk back to the hotel, and on the way, stop by some of the other sights. Unfortunately, when we got to the Temple of Zeus we found out that it, and most of the other sights to see, closed at 3pm. So, we kept walking and found ourselves in front of Kallimarmaro Stadium.

Kallimarmaro Stadium

This stadium was built in the 4th century BC for the Panathenaic Games. It was later restored for the first modern Olympics in 1896, and used again during the 2004 games.

Me at the Olympic stadium

As it turned out, the stadium was not included in the ticket my parents bought at the Acropolis, nor was it free for students, so we skipped this particular sight. Clearly, you do not need to purchase a ticket to see the stadium from the outside.

And that was day 1 in Athens! Yes, it was a LONG day.

Next time, day 2 in Athens, including the Temple of Zeus, Dionysus Theatre, and Athens at night.

Ciao,

Sheila

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Filed under Bucket List, Family, Things to see, Travel