Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Alone (almost) at the Acropolis - Atmospheric Athens

'I can't believe there's nobody here.'
My cousin and my mum came to Athens for the first time this week, arriving at the end of November for my birthday. Although - except for the first day, my birthday - the weather was cold and the sky grey, they were amazed how quiet it was. No queues, no crowds.

'It's so cheap here. And I didn't expect people to be so friendly in a big city.'
We've been lucky - at the last minute I found the airbnb website, and a whole apartment to rent for less than 200 euros for the week. I'd worried that it might be too far away from the centre, but it's been an easy half hour walk to the heart of Athens, via the ancient stadium and national gardens and Temple of Zeus.

We practically had the Acropolis to ourselves. The ancient agora - where you could say democracy began - was deserted. I love seeing places afresh through someone else's eyes. My mum said she never expected so much green space around the Acropolis, so much of the ancient city uncluttered by modern buildings.

So it was raining... 'It's a UNESCO world heritage site - you'd think there would be people here all the time,' said my cousin. Much better to come for a city break late in the year than in the heat of summer.

And when it's raining, sometimes you just have to duck into a cafe... We had mezes of winter salad and hummus and marinated anchovies with raki to drink, for 16 euros at the Ivis cafe in Psirri.

I'd never been to Pangrati until I rented this apartment, but it's a great neighbourhood with food shops, bars and cafes. We ate out three nights at To Mavro Provato (The Black Sheep); on our last night we ate a salad, big prawns and fennel in ouzo, prawn linguine, and the superb signature dish of tender lamb wrapped in paper with lots of herbs and cheese and baked in the oven - all for 48 euros including wine for the three of us. But we also ate very good food for a mere 22 euros for three, including wine, at Dionysus, 'The Quick Greek', just around the corner.

And I took mum to my favourite bakery on Sarri St. 'You never think of Greek bakeries being so good, but these are as wonderful as the ones in France.'

I'm not exclusively gallivanting in Athens this week - I'm also visiting the lovely people at EmBIO clinic every couple of days for blood test and scan while I do the pre-IVF meds. Jabbed myself in belly with needles a record five times yesterday. But yesterday was reported to be responding 'very well, excellent' (gold star!), and today: no injections! And tomorrow I get a nice long sleep while they take out some eggs and see how they look...


  1. Hi Jennifer
    Happy Birthday!
    Greece is interesting in all seasons and in winter too. Several times in Athens was winter and I really liked - quiet!
    All the best. Good luck!

  2. I really enjoyed it in Athens last week and I went for my Birthday too. walked along the road to a quiet Taverna in Attica and was made so welcome. The locals came and went all evening and I felt as if I was in the middle of nowhere. At least in summer you can get your bearings. But English tourists in the middle of Winter, off the beaten track! I'd recommend a visit to this lovely City anytime.

  3. wishing you all the best with your treatment

    1. Thank you so much! All went well at the clinic so just have to wait and see now.
      Lovely to hear about your adventures in Athens - and for your birthday too. Another Toxotis (Saggitarius)! I do love Athens more and more - it was hard to leave this time. People were so friendly, and the food... yum!