Light acquires a transcendental quality: it is not the light of the Mediterranean alone, it is something more, something unfathomable, something holy. Here the light penetrates directly to the soul, opens the door and windows of the heart, makes on naked, exposed, isolated in a metaphysical bliss which makes everything clear without being known. No analysis can go on in this light: here the neurotic is either instantly healed or goes mad.
-Henry Miller, The Colossus of Maroussi
Last May, I returned to Greece. It had been nearly a decade since I had felt the Mediterranean sun wash over my skin. A friend and I had planned since November a fast-paced two week island hopping adventure.
Right off the plane in Athens, we headed from my family’s home off the Elliniko Metro station to center of Athens… the Acropolis.
Our first stop was the Acropolis museum. Even in early May, it was too hot by mid-morning to go up to the Acropolis itself. Here in the museum are housed treasures such as the original Caryatids of the Erechtheion. The museum also gives an overview of the structures on the Acropolis. You can gaze up close at the friezes and ornamentation of these classic structures.
After lunch, we walked around the neighborhoods and markets at the foothills of the Acropolis. Here you can see the mixture of the old and the new, ancient and modern.
Midday, we took a break at the 360 Bar over the historic Monastiraki neighborhood. This is where you can find the ancient ruins of the Roman Emperor Hadrian’s Library, but also a maze of flea markets and shop vendors. From the windows of this third story bar and café, you can watch the tourists hustle through the square with views of the Acropolis.
I found friends!
We ended our exploring that evening at the Tiki Bar Athens. After a long day of walking around, it was refreshing to relax in the fun and funky atmosphere of the tiki bar.
Although in this area of Athens can be filled with tourist-trap overpriced restaurants, we followed the advice of Matt Barrett’s Athens Guide and went to Paradosiako Cafeneion. As every Greek meal should start, we had the classic seasonal Greek salad of tomatoes, onions, feta, cheese, cucumbers, and olives. All fresh, of course.
On to the main course! For our first meal in Greece, we had lemon potato wedges, grilled octopus, and shrimp in tomato sauce. Everything was fresh and delicious.
Going straight from an international flight to exposing the streets of Athens wasn’t easy, but it was a strong way to kick off our time in Greece and maximize our time there. It helped me prevent jet lag, I slept very soundly that night!