I could not believe I waited this long to visit Greece! What an amazing country! It is a tourist-heaven. It has everything one could possibly want on a vacations.
I actually went to Greece to run the 33rd Athens Authentic Marathon. It was a quick trip (about a week) and most of the days I spent in Athens. Because it was November and the weather was supposed to be dreary and rainy, going to the islands was never in the forefront of my mind. That is one of my weaknesses. Once I set on a possible itinerary, I would not change it 🙂 I also did not feel like going on tiny planes or a boat ride for 4-5hours by myself. Added on top of that, my obsession with ancient civilizations and archeology, I think it was a pretty straightforward decisions to remain on the mainland and and spend three days visiting the important ruins. Alright, alright, I regretted a little bit not squeezing in Santorini given the fantastic weather, but I still had a great trip 🙂
After spending half a day in Athens, I already know I am going back to Greece and it will be soon (I already have a long list to do’s and to be’s for the next trips). The people, the sunsets, the food, and the ruins are incredible. In a way, I am glad I only visited Greece now. If I become addicted to Greece and keep coming back, at least I have seen other parts of the world and other cultures.
Athens Authentic Marathon
For all the marathoners out there, Athens Authentic Marathon is not to be missed. The route started in the town of Marathon and ended in the historic Kallimármaro (also known as Panathenaic) Stadium. This stadium is the location where the first Olympics in 1896 was hosted, and it was made of Pentelic marble. The route relives the trip of Pheidippides (a messenger) when he ran from Marathon to Athens to announce that the Grecians had won the war against the Persians. He dropped dead after shouting out “Victory” according to history books.
It is not for the faint-hearted or the unprepared (myself included). The change in elevations of the course made the course very challenging. If not for the cheers and supports of the lovely Greeks, I am not sure I would have made it to the finish line. I am also very impressed with the organization of the event.
Clear Blue Sky and Magical Blue Seas
Everyday in Greece we had the chance to watch amazing sunsets in the city and outside. It was peaceful and I really can live there forever. Get a white walled cottage on the cliffside with a seaview. What a dream it would be.
Archeological Ruins and the Myths
I cannot get enough of Greek Mythology and its ancient histories. The ruins I visited are amazing and when you were there in a small group or alone, you could almost imagine the ancient citizens of Athens milling about the Acropolis or the Ancient Agora. For the archeology enthusiasts, do not miss the Acropolis Museum and get up-close and personal with the friezes that once adorned the Parthenon – depicting the procession to honor the Goddess Athena. One can still feel the power in the Temple of Apollo in the ruins of Delphi; lose oneself in the power of the Mycaene king – glorious even in death; enjoy the amazing acoustic in the theatre of Epidavros; and relive entering the stadium of Olympia before your first Olympics event. What an unforgettable trip!
When one says the most delicious food is those made simply from amazing ingredients, he/she must be thinking of Greek food. Because I stayed on the tourist trail, not all the food I had was amazing. However, I had some interesting and delicious ones. I tried the usual, such as pork gyros with tzatsiki, mousakka, Greek salad, and the Greek pies. They were so yummy! I had to admit I indulged a lot in feta cheese and greek yoghurt. Both items are quite costly where I live. I cannot live without them though!
Most of the restaurants recommended in the guidebook and by the hotel people were okay. They were good but not amazing. I tried Thanasis in Souvlaki Row in Monastiraki (their special kebab is not as tasty as the kofte kebab in Turkey), Efharis on Adrianou Street (between Monastiraki and Thissio), and Strofi (near the Acropolis Museum).
The two most amazing meals were a EUR2 pork gyros near the Acropolis Metro and my friend feta cheese in a taberna in Delphi, and the zucchini flower with feta cheese with Tzatziki in Strofi.
I decided to buy some Greek food products to support their economy. I am not a big fan of cheap magnets and the like as souvenirs. I bought a can of dolma (rice in vine leaves), tapenade from Olives and feta cheese, extra virgin olive oil from Kalamata, sweet sesame snacks, olives, almond loukums from Kalamata, and sea salt. I also bought spices to make Greek Salad and tzatziki. I threw a Greek dinner at home right away. It was simple and yummy, and we closed the dinner with a shot of Metaxa (cognac) each.
Greece is really a rich country in a poor situation at the moment. I cannot wait to go back and now I can understand why even my young niece and nephew are very much so enamored with Greece.