There are many things to do in Athens, the Acropolis erected on a limestone hill is a must. Together with the Parthenon, they are symbols of the city. The idea to build the Acropolis as a vast complex of sanctuaries with a place of prominence given to Pallas Athena, the goddess of wisdom, peace, art and crafts, was proposed by the famous statesman, Pericles. You can spend a whole day here and even picnic under the olive trees at Agora.
The Plaka is a busy marketplace surrounded by cosy taverns with a view of the Acropolis. Its winding lanes liven up in the late afternoon. This is a perfect place for an icy frappe. All of the merchants selling almost identical wares will persuade you that their goods are the best. From the Plaka it is not far to “constitutional” Syntagma Square. Walking there you may stumble upon a wistful organ grinder circling around the pretzel seller. A nut stall defends its place under the sun right in front of an omnipresent McDonald’s.
Greeks love dining and every gourmet will certainly appreciate the stylish restaurant Archeon Yefsis, which means Ancient Flavours. All meals served here are based exclusively on recipes from the 3rd to the 5th centuries BC, when Greeks knew nothing of potatoes, tomatoes, coffee or sugar. Instead, they used peeled barley or honey. You can taste delicious goat meat or goat cheese, pork stuffed with dried plums, excellent wines and fruit juices, vegetable salads with seafood, thick yogurts and gruel. This restaurant offers unique culinary delights that you can experience in a traditional setting, half-sitting, half-lying and savouring delicacies like the ancient Greeks and Romans.
When night falls and you don’t feel like sleeping, go to the port of Piraeus and under the star-studded sky watch the ships depart. They head for Crete, Lesbos and other Greek islands, but also for Cyprus, Turkey and Israel.
Piraeus had been an important port from the Classic period until Macedonian rule. During the Turkish occupation, though, it only served a few dozens of boats. Even at the times of Queen Amalia in the 1840s, the Greek navy was insignificant. But the Queen ordered precious plants from the voyages to build up her luxurious park today’s National Gardens surrounding the former palace and the present-day Parliament, a simple pastel building dominating Syntagma.
A great part of the city’s industry and business is concentrated in Piraeus. Although it may not at first appear picturesque, there is a park just a stone’s throw from the port and the lanes are full of lovely little shops offering copper and wooden products. You can also visit the regular Sunday flea market.
Athens offers much more than this with Athena keeping her eye on it day and night. Do not hesitate to explore her city and soak up some of the Greek spirit and filoxenia their typical hospitality!