Athens! Grecian Holiday Part 1

I’m in Greece! Literally as I write this I’m typing poolside in Crete. Look here’s proof.

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But I’m getting ahead of myself. Last week I flew back to London, back to our cute little flat, and back to Ryan. It was wonderful to be back. Done with the move and done with long distance. Now, on to be an expat. The only draw back of my arrival was that the airline lost my luggage for just over 24 hours. I was grumpy about it, but at least I eventually got it back.

On the Thursday after I got back, Ryan took the day off and we went to the zoo. After living in DC, I was a little spoiled on free zoos, but the London Zoo is totally worth the money. It was awesome. We saw so many animals and they weren’t just lounging around they were walking and doing stuff. Exciting, right? We saw a komodo dragon, a tiger, giant tortoises, and a okapi – which I didn’t even know existed and has a butt like a zebra.

Then on Friday, my parents and my brother Eric arrived in London. We took one of those double-decker bus tours and it was really fun seeing so much of the city and learning random facts. Then, Monday, less than week back in London, and we were off to Greece.

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My family! L to R, Papa, Eric, Ryan, Mama

We are lucky enough to have this family vacation in Greece because my mom was invited by a colleague to his wedding in Crete. Incredible, I know! But before the wedding, and before  Crete, we spent a few days in Athens. I have been wanting to go to Athens for about seven years – since I studied abroad in Rome, and fell in love with Classical art, architecture, history, and mythology.

Athens was AMAZING. First, to blow your minds, our hotel had a view of the acropolis. When Ryan pointed it out I was in disbelief. It was there? I was finally seeing it?! Later we went to the hotel’s roof bar and the view was even more breath taking at night (although my pictures didn’t come out well).

Anyway, day 1 in Athens and the five us make the sweaty hot trip up to the acropolis. I can’t explain how amazing the experience was. I loved seeing things I learned about over ten years ago in an art history lecture hall at the University of Maryland. I loved walking among stone and sculptures that have witnessed history. It was incredible to look out over a vast and built up city with this ancient history in the middle of it. And the Parthenon – wow. I was in awe of it. In awe of the building, the history, the city. It was great to imagine what it was like when people actually came to worship Athena. I can’t say anymore, just look at these sweet pictures.

 

I also insisted on seeing every single thing at the National Archaeological Museum. I was really impressed by that museum. Some of you might be reading this thinking, “archaeological museum, snooze-fest.” But I loved it. I know this blog is my platform for talking about food  (and I’ll get there I promise) but my training is in museums so let me chat on that for sec. Pieces of pottery and faded carvings can be a snooze-fest, I’ll admit. But this museum put the pieces together with reconstructed pieces to give a full picture of what the object was. I liked seeing real pieces put together with a reconstruction to create a full vase. And for faded carvings, they had color reproductions next to the original. It helped provide context and let me imagine a little better. And there were awesome maps and info graphics to put these objects into a historical context. Ok, I’ll stop. I know I’m dorking out on museums.

Ryan and I also went to the Agora to check out some more ruins. In case you don’t want to Google Agora, it was a commercial center in Athens. It was a place where people went for religion, shopping, art, and what have you. It was amazing to walk around among foundations of buildings and temples. The Agora museum had more pottery pieces and sculptures – but it also had 6th-4th century cooking equipment. See, I told you I’d get back to food. It’s cool that some of these objects look so similar. Below are pictures of a cheese grater, grill, casserole, oven, and spit.

And while we’re talking about food, let’s just say I AM IN HEAVEN. First, I love Greek salads. Greek salad is what I eat when Ryan is away for dinner, and that’s because he doesn’t like olives or feta cheese. I have been indulging to the utmost.  Also we have had delicious lamb and beef, bread, olive oil, tomatoes. In the pictures below there is mousaka, something like a falafel, tzatziki, stuffed lamb, Greek salad, potatoes, and other things I don’t know the name of. This was all from Xenois Zeus, a restaurant in Athens with a great roof-top view dining room.  And while less widely lauded, I’ve also had tons of Fanta Lemon, which is my favorite soda of all time. I’m hoping to find a cookbook and maybe sneak in few Greek recipes in after vacation. I’ll write more about Crete when I’m back in London!

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