Greece (or, “The Summary”)

We got back in Athens and headed to a mall to do some shopping. At the airport, we stocked up on a few other things we can’t get in Egypt before hopping back on the plane.

Athens, Santorini, and Naxos were all very different and unique experiences. But overall, Greece was amazing. (Seriously, click those links.)

We had a few observations. Ronnie had a shower thought (while we were hiking in Santorini, not actually while showering) that we probably wouldn’t have appreciated it nearly as much if we didn’t live in Egypt. In the Tri-Cities, we had easy access to good food, good wine, good views, etc., but those things are far, far harder to come by in Egypt. For me, even the difference in air quality was immediately noticeable when we got off the plane. Thank you, Egypt, for putting us in a geographical and financial position where we can actually travel, but also for altering our perspective to allow us to enjoy it even more!

There was, however, so much about Greece that was similar to Egypt, just a bit better. The food is similar, the people are just as nice. The markets, the scooters that zoom everywhere, and the somewhat lazier way of life and concept of “punctuality” all reminded us a little of Alexandria. It must just be a Mediterranean thing. Even the old, crumbling buildings reminded us of Egypt at times.

I was very glad to be there during the off season. I can just imagine how crazy it would be during the summer. Already, Monastiraki Square in Athens was a madhouse! It was disappointing that there were so many things closed on Naxos, but I guess that’s the price we pay for having beaches all to ourselves.

The other great thing about Greece — and probably the greatest thing of all —  is that we only live a 2-hour flight away and that means that it is quite affordable. Like, really affordable. We would happily go back any time; in fact, we’re kind of already planning to.

Athens

This vacation has been on my list for a year now, ever since all our friends went to Greece over Spring Break and Ronnie just took me to Rome. Besides that, who wouldn’t want to go to Greece?!

We took a flight straight from Alexandria to Athens around 1 in the morning, arriving two hours later at 4:30 AM (math…). We found a coffee shop that was open and had wifi, where we hung out a bit and made a plan for the day while we waited for things to open, particularly the luggage storage place. Eventually, we had a plan and headed out to make the most of International Monuments Day.  It just so happens that on April 18th, all of the monuments and museums have free entry!  So, with very little sleep, we checked off monument after monument, starting with Hadrian’s Library and ending with the Acropolis.

If you prefer to just look at photos, I don’t blame you. They can be found here.

I highly recommend using this guide to get you through and around Athens. It was very helpful for those of us who don’t know what to do or see. Also, a good idea before you travel, research some restaurants, bars, sights, etc and use google maps to place a star on the location. For some reason, even though I don’t have cell service or data, my phone can show me where I am and I can use that to find our next spot.

After being up all night and walking all the way around the Acropolis, were exhausted by 2 pm and went to check into our Airbnb where we crashed hard. I think we made it out to a small shop later to get some food for dinner and a SIM card. Naturally, most of our meals included cheese, pork, bread, and alcohol.

Day 2 in Athens started out at a cute little coffee/book shop at the base of the Acropolis. There’s nothing like Greek yogurt with fruit and a fresh croissant for breakfast. We headed to the Acropolis Museum and a few other sights we missed the day before.

Then we headed to the Cinque Wine Bar. The owner shared all sorts of knowledge about the wines, cheese, meats, fruits, and nuts that we ate there. Unfortunately, I have a terrible memory for things like that, plus her Greek accent made it a bit hard to understand. I just know it was one of the most delicious parts of the trip. We also met a couple of graduate students on vacation and chatted with them for a while.

We climbed a hill, wandered the Monastiraki flea market, and found a real supermarket to buy some dinner.

Day 3 was a sort of a surprise. We thought we were leaving for Santorini on this day, and that’s what we were telling the people we met. Fortunately, the night before, we checked and verified that we actually had an entire extra day in Athens! We spent in Piraeus, the main port. There wasn’t much to see or do there so we bought ferry tickets and then walked around the marina for a bit before heading back to the central part of Athens for dinner and drinks. We had gyros from a little shop and went to Brettos Bar for some drinks where we ended up chatting with two American couples for a while.

Day 4 We got up super early and hopped on the metro to catch our ferry to Santorini.