This past week we were finally able to complete one of the trips that we had to cancel due to Covid. After wanting to go for so long, we finally spent a wonderful week in Greece.
Our trip began very early in the morning (actually the middle of the night) with a flight to Athens. After arriving, we headed straight into the city to see the Acropolis. Upon entering the area, we were first met with the ancient theater-Epidaurus Theater. We climbed further up through the old gate, Beule Gate, to the Parthenon. Next to the Parthenon, stood the Athena temple. After wandering at the top for a while, we ventured down the slopes to the Socrates Prison. There is no actual proof that Socrates was actually imprisoned there; it is likely legend.
After walking for a bit, we experienced our first real highlight of the trip-lunch! We had a local beer, Fix, Greek Salad, Saganaki (fried cheese), Feta me Meli (feta in Phyllo with honey), Dolma (stuffed grape leaves), tomato fritters and Souvlaki (chicken skewer). It was all so good.
After refueling, we walked to Ancient Agora where we saw the Temple of Hephaestus as well as an ancient church and a reconstructed forum filled with statues.
We walked back through the city to the Acropolis Museum. They had a really nice collection of things that were recovered from the Acropolis slopes such as statues, wall pieces, pottery, coins, etc. They also had an archeological site that revealed a collection of ancient homes.
We rounded out our day in the city with a stop at Hadrian’s Arch and the Temple of Zeus.
Then it was off to a bakery and dinner where we tried another local beer, Alpha, a fried cheese from Crete, kolokithokeftedes (zucchini balls), more tomato fritters, fava (smashed split peas), fried cheese cubes and black eyed peas.
We explored more ancients today with a drive to Delphi. Our drive took us through the rocky, hilly landscape past Thebes. Thebes is the city that the character from Greek mythology, Oedipus, hailed from. We stopped for an amazing view next to Mt. Parnassus overlooking tons of olive trees before heading on to Delphi where there were also many Cyprus trees.
At Delphi, we saw the Temple of Athena, the location (really just a rock) where the oracle gave prophecies, Apollo’s Temple, many treasury ruins, a theater and a stadium.
We walked through the Delphi Museum which had many interesting pieces-mostly statues and wall pieces but also some tiny carved figures and gold adornments.
Then it was on to lunch in Delphi at a restaurant overlooking the sea where we had fried sheep and goat cheese, leek pie, fennel pie, olives, grass pea balls with onion chutney, moussaka and wine. It was all so good and then they gave us some baklava style dessert to finish the meal.
After lunch, we went to Arachova where we walked around some small streets, stopped for a Greek coffee, Gelaktomboureko (custard in a puff pastry) and Kataifi (a honey and nut baklava made with “spaghetti”).
To work that off, we walked up a ton of steps to a cathedral which was so ornate on the inside with ceiling and wall paintings, massive chandeliers, mosaics, designed floors, metal sculptures and strange small stained glass.
Back in Athens, we enjoyed a small dinner on a rooftop overlooking the Acropolis. We tried Dakos (a tomato, feta and dried bread salad), Halloumi with grilled vegetables and Spanakopita (spinach and feta in Phyllo). Once we made it back to our apartment, we had some baklava and a nut cake for dessert.
On our final day in Athens, we took a long drive to Ancient Olympia. Along the way, we stopped at the Corinth Canal to see the man made channel between the seas.
Then we drove through the mountains to Olympia. Apparently, it was a significant day in Ancient Olympia as the Olympic Torch was being lit and sent on it’s way to 50 cities throughout Greece before heading to the location of the winter Olympics. As we arrived at the area, the torch was passing by (sadly, it is not carried by a runner but driven in a car) which was pretty neat. Once inside the “city,” we grabbed a quick lunch of Gyros and walked to the Ancient Olympia Museum. The museum contained some very old artifacts (700 B.C.)-statues, vases, edifices, sculptures, helmets, etc.
Next, we entered the archeological site where we saw the ruins of many temples, the gymnasium where the athletes trained, monuments, treasuries and where the Olympic torch used to be lit. We also walked (my youngest ran) the length of the original Olympic stadium-pretty cool!
At the Museum of the Olympic Games, there was some interesting memorabilia and information. The old discus, descriptions of when various events were included in the games nd information about women in the games were unique.
Our final stop in Olympia was the Archimedes Museum where they had replicas and information about ancient inventions such as the robot server, a water activated alarm clock, an automated theater and automated temple doors (sadly, no pictures allowed). On the way back to Athens, we stopped at Ancient Corinth where Paul addressed his letters in Corinthians.
Back in the city, we had dinner of fish roe dip, cheese croquettes, cheese pies, grilled Halloumi, spicy baked feta and tomato croquettes along with a flaming cider drink.
We flew to Santorini early in the morning and drove to our rented cave house (traditional style home built into the cliffs).
In the afternoon, we walked into Fira (Thera) and strolled along the Caldera (the section of coastline overlooking the volcano in the middle of the sea). Eventually, we made it to the highest point on the island, observing the water, white buildings and domed churches along the way.
We made our way back down to Firastefani for a lunch overlooking the sea. We had some amazing fava beans, tomato fritters, cheese pie, mushrooms in lemon butter, Santorini salad, Slouvaki and Dakos. We finished the meal with a dessert of Macedonia nut ice cream and a “bread pudding” consisting of the spaghetti style baklava with a special clotted cream. The restaurant gave us a free dessert wine as well.
After spending some time back at the cave house where the kids soaked in the pool, we walked up to a view of the Caldera for sunset and a dinner of fava beans, tomato fritters, Saganaski and white aubergine (eggplant) rolls stuffed with vegetables. At the end of the meal, they gave us Ouzo-an anise flavored liqueur. On the way to the cave house, we stopped in a bakery and bought some baklava type dessert with chocolate and nuts inside and some small orange, chocolate and coconut cakes. It was all very good.
After a breakfast of assorted pastries and Koulouri (sesame seed covered bread ring), my daughter and husband went on three scuba dives, so my son and I made our way to a black sand beach where we saw wind surfers and some interesting formations of sand. Our divers enjoyed their day and saw many fish and lava rock grottos.
Once we were all back together, we went to dinner where we had Pastitsio (a moussaka with noodles in it), mushroom pies, tomato fritters, fava beans and Halloumi with grilled vegetables. We also tried the local Yellow Donkey beer.
Today, we filled up on vegetable pie and Nutella and cream filled donuts before going to Perissa beach (black sand). We laid out, the kids got in the water, and we collected pumice rocks-generally we just enjoyed the sun, blue skies and clear water. Across the street, we enjoyed a lunch of fava balls, cheese balls and cashew garlic dip with pita bread as well as some mushroom gyros and falafel wraps. All of that went well with some Alpha beer and a mojito After that tasty break, we sat on the beach for a while longer.
In the evening, we drove to Pyrgos where we climbed through the village streets to the top of the city and sat outside a church to watch the sun set while snacking on some cheese, olives, veggies and Tzatziki and eggplant dips. We sat back, sipped on some Red Donkey beer and watched the sunset.
After dark, we went to Megalachori where we walked the main street which was pretty with the lights.
After some cheese, vegetable and chocolate pastries, we drove to Oia. Though it was incredibly pretty, it was very crowded so we headed to a less busy area to enjoy the views over the water. We had a lovely lunch overlooking the sea. We decided on Volkan beer, white eggplant, spinach pies, tomato risotto, baklava and Gelaktomboureko.
In the evening, we walked to a 100 year old restaurant, Aktaion. We had a really amazing meal consisting of Retsina wine (a wine infused with pine resin), Loukoumades (fried cheese ball donuts), vegetable fritters, Dolma (stuffed grape leaves), fava bean and a traditional tomato pasta and mushroom and truffle oil pasta. We finished it all off with a Greek yogurt and cream cheese dessert and a small shot of a digestif.
On our final full day, we drove to Emporio and walked around a bit. It was a very interesting little village with many small nooks and passageways and an abundance of cave homes built into the cliffs.
Then we spent some time at another black sand beach where the water was so nice that we all got in it a bit.
We stopped for a lunch at the dock where we had a dip platter (spicy feta, eggplant, fish roe and Tzatziki), Saganaski and tomato fritters.
We walked to the Red Beach and the archeological site at Akoriti. The site was interesting as it was a preserved city (thanks to lava flow) from 2000 B.C. Something that old is really hard to process.
We went to one final black beach before making our way to the lighthouse to watch the sunset.
We returned to the restaurant where we had lunch on our first day on the island and had many of the same dishes as well as grilled Halloumi, feta balls and mushroom risotto. The restaurant gave us a free aperitif called Raki and we finished the day off with a Mythos beer.
And just when we thought our time on the island was done and all that was left was for us to travel home, we saw our first sunrise on the island while waiting on our plane. It was truly amazing how the sun would appear and disappear at the horizon as if it was really the edge of the world.
We really had an awe inspiring (all the remains of the ancient civilizations) and relaxing (warm weather and nice beaches) week in Greece. And hopefully all of our walking helped to burn some calories, or we may really be in trouble thanks to all the delicious food. We are so thankful that we finally got to make this trip, and we will definitely carry the memories of the sun soaked vacation with us as we head into another Dutch winter.