Our stay in Athens was the first time we felt "home" on this trip. The kind smiles, the sassy locals, and the fresh vegetables drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice... the flow of this bustling town was second nature to us (even though we didn't have gelato every day).
We stayed in an Airbnb outside the city center with an incredibly helpful host who sent us maps and timetables for every type of public transport, AND sent us the wifi password BEFORE we arrived. We woke up our first morning around 10:30am (surprise), saved our address in Google Maps, and headed out to the Metro station. Breakfast isn't very popular here so the Rickaroons we packed were a huge lifesaver to start our busy days energized. We got off a stop ahead of the Plaka to explore the markets and pick up some snacks for our day.
Cherries are at the peak of their season over here so we packed a large bag of those, some fresh bread, tomatoes, olives, nectarines, figs, and filled up our water bottles. We bought a small knife for 1 euro to cut up the tomato then headed toward the Plaka.
The Plaka is the oldest section of Athens and was described to us as the mainland Greek island. Narrow streets are colorfully decorated with hanging grape vines and flowers, small restaurants spilling onto the sidewalk, and jewelry and clothing shops. We wandered through the maze and started walking up the hill towards the Acropolis. Tourists on their way back down kept pointing us in the right direction (we don't know if they were just so excited to speak English with someone or what, but every single person happily helped us along) until we took a final turn in the road and saw the citadel sitting on the mountaintop. It literally stopped us in our tracks.
The Acropolis sits on a rocky outcrop of the mountain and contains several amazing structures including the Parthenon. Standing over the city with the wind rushing past you and sunshine energizing your muscles gives you a sense of what it felt like thousands of years ago- the power this place held.
We slowly made our way around all the ruins and headed towards the big Greek flag flying above it all. That was when it really hit us that we made it to Greece. The flag cast a small shadow on the rocks so we posted up underneath for Christina to sketch the Parthenon and me to watch everyone try and get the perfect selfie angle with their screaming kids (best form of birth control in 2 seconds).
We walked down the huge stone steps and weaved through the olive tree garden towards the only water fountain on the mountain. Refilled and finally hydrated, we spent the ridiculous amount of euros for two frozen lemonades because frozen lemonade is life.
There were more ruins to explore on the way back into the Plaka so we took our time sketching and doing more selfie watching. We passed many classic Greek styled restaurants with potted plants, hanging grape vines, white painted walls, brightly colored trims, stone fences, and amazing smells. Of course we were too busy admiring those buildings to actually take photos :)
The road led us back into the flea market where we bought new sandals (our old ones literally were split in half at this point) and sat down for an 8:30pm dinner with the bright blue sky above us. Our big Athens adventure day ended with full bellies, dusty feet in sweet looking shoes, and a new love for this once powerful empire that epitomized the best of Greek virtues.