Lifestyle & Travel -

Travel Diary: Exploring Monastiraki, Plaka and Acropolis in Athens

Lifestyle & Travel -

Travel Diary: Exploring Monastiraki, Plaka and Acropolis in Athens

I’m writing this post from the McDonald’s in Syntagma Square – great for FREE wi-fi!

I definitely packed all the WRONG clothes for this trip! In the U.S., I can usually get by in jeans for both day and evening (plus I typically get way too cold at the mere hint of air conditioning) but it’s so incredibly HOT here in Greece that I realize I’m gonna need some loose-fitting shirts and shorts STAT.

why did I pack like it’s FALL or WINTER in Europe? #fail

I spend my second day in Athens getting lost in the city. I ended up at Monastiraki Square, with its bustling shops, street venders and open markets.

street vendor selling fruit in Monastiraki Square

The flea market here sells clothes, jewelry, handbags, even wine and liquor!

Since I packed mostly jeans and long-sleeved shirts like a dummy, I end up buying a pair of loose-fitting capris in one of the stalls ($13 euro because I forget to try to haggle the price!).

shops at the Athens flea market

I find the Acropolis by mistake. I was following behind a family who looked like they had some sights to see. But by the time I get up all the stairs and winding paths that lead to the historical monument, I’m too tired and hot. All I want to do is drink a $5 euro frozen lemonade and sit down somewhere in the shade. Also – getting into the Acropolis is $12 euro and honestly, I’m not that excited about ruins to pay that much money to see them.

people who are not me climbing the steps to the Parthenon at the Acropolis

So, instead of going to see the Parthenon, I had just enough energy to climb the 115 meters to the top of Areopagus Hill.

climbing Areopagus Hill near the Acropolis

My reward for getting past all the slippery rocks? The most incredible view of the city. It’s absolutely breathtaking once you get up there and realize where you are. It is said to be the location where the Apostle Paul delivered the famous speech in Acts 17 of the Bible: “Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.”

the view from Areopagus Hill near the Acropolis

I could have sat up there on the hill all evening, with a bottle of sweet wine and my sweet pianist beside me. It would be THE perfect place to see the sun set over Athens.

another view from Areopagus Hill

After I came down from the Acropolis area, I stumbled upon “Muses,” a free art exhibit with work by Zoltan Galos. It was put on by the Graduates Association of School of Fine Arts.

art exhibit set up in an old building in Athens

some of the artist’s work is paired with poems, deep sensual writing about his “muses”

I had dinner in Plaka, at a place called Hpidaros Cafe (I think). The restaurant names are so hard to read with the Greek letters, let alone write. The language is very difficult to pick up as well. Anyway, Plaka is a very popular neighborhood in Athens for tourists and the cafe offers typical Greek fare. I see swordfish on the menu for $9 euro and my eyes almost pop out of my head. I love swordfish, but I never order it in the U.S. because it usually runs about $20-$30 as an entree in most restaurants. But here in Greece, the fish is so cheap! You do have to watch out for extra fees, though – most restaurants here charge extra for mineral water ($1-3 euro) and bread ($1 euro), while in the U.S. these items are complimentary with the meal.

delicious grilled swordfish dinner in Plaka for only $9 euro – this made me so happy

The whole area near the Acropolis reminds me of the strip in Miami. They’ve got the hype men standing outside trying to convince people to come in and eat. And it’s so hot out, they’ve got the fans blowing out water mist for all the customers. It’s not so much a “tourist trap” but the restaurant strip is definitely catered to tourists, with most menus printed in English, Greek and Spanish. Except the prices aren’t NEARLY as high. Ugh, don’t get me started on overpriced food in Miami.

restaurant strip in Plaka

It was the perfect evening to sit outside, watch the trains go by…

even the trains have graffiti on them!

…and admire the view of the Acropolis at sunset, lit up like a glowing mansion on a hill.

view of Acropolis at sunset from my restaurant table

Today, I took a 3-hour walking tour of Athens. Tomorrow, I will be leaving to visit the Greek island of Santorini!

The post Travel Diary: Exploring Monastiraki, Plaka and Acropolis in Athens appeared first on Happy Black Woman.

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