November 27, 2010

Adventures in Athens, Greece - Part 1

I'm back in the good ol' USA!!

I cannot explain the feeling of landing back in America after a week in Europe. It's the most comforting feeling in the world. Kinda like collapsing into a giant fluffy blanket.

I finally got to see my beautiful mom and furry kids again and I am more than content right now.

Although my jet lag is the worst it has ever been. I usually bounce back easily by drinking tons and tons of coffee to keep awake but it didnt work this time. I passed out at 9pm last night and woke up at 6am this morning.

I am somehow going to have to stay awake til 4am tonight because I have to work. I'm thinking about downing 6 espresso to manage this impossible task.

So ...... Greece!!!

Athens, Greece was one of the most green, historic, friendly, educational, beautiful, modern cities I have ever been to. It was everything I would look for in a place that I would want to live and settle my family in.

Unfortunately I could never move that far away from the life I have now. If only we had an Athens, Greece in the US.

Except for Puerto Rico, I have never missed a place so much after leaving it. Even in Paris, I found myself wishing I was back in beautiful, warm Greece.

We took a total of 751 photos in Greece and France so I will be splitting my favorite pics into 3 Greece blog posts and 1 Paris blog post.

I am also proud to say that I paid for 90% of the trip!! I may not make the same amount of money that E.W. does but I wish to be as equal as possible in our relationship. I figured it was finally time to give back and used my entire pay check for the trip.

I booked us a room at the Royal Olympic Hotel which turned out to be a great choice location wise. Close to everything. The room included free wireless and a breakfast buffet every morning which was convenient.

E.W. payed $250 extra to upgrade us to a nicer room but the upgraded room turned out to be shittier than the cheaper one so we switched back and got a refund.

The room was super hot and we thought our AC was broken. We later found out that the hotel doesn't have AC, they use ventilation. WTF kind of 5 star hotel doesn't have AC?? Maybe we are just spoiled, earth spoilin' Americans, but I expect AC in a country that has temperatures over 100 degrees. We had to keep the balcony door open so that the cool air would keep us from cooking alive. And it was only 70 outside, Can you imagine when it's 110 degrees?

The hotel was awesome nonetheless. Made out of marble since marble is so damn available in Greece. Everything is marble...I went into a shitty cafe to use the bathroom and the entire bathroom was made out of marble. Ceilings, floor, sink...everything.

On our first day in Greece we were still pretty jet lagged so took it easy and just toured the surrounding neighborhood Plaka. Plaka is a charming neighborhood with many shops and restaurants. It's generally and touristy area but the food is pretty incredible. We ate at the above restaurant and had incredible bolognese. It's not the kind in US with red sauce but more of a meat and oil sauce which reminds me of the way my grandma used to make it.

Sitting outside to eat is like a religion in Greece. Every single placed we passed was completely empty inside. Even in the frigid night, heat lamps are put out for people to site and eat outside.

Huge sandal made out of real leather. I bet you I could fit my whole body in that thing. I probably would have if there wasn't a "Do Not Touch" sign next to it.

Tons of touristy souvenirs everywhere...Real cheap too!!! Amazing how much cheaper everything was there than in Amsterdam. All of Greece was super reasonably priced. Maybe being close to bankruptcy has something to do with it.

Plaka is very beautiful and clean. The roads are generally closed off from cars but motorcycles and vespas seemed to ignore the limits.

Athens is inhabited by thousands of stray dogs and they all look so damn fat, happy and lazy. They barely pick their heads up when you put food in front of them. And if you do feed them or scratch their heads they will follow you around with wagging tails.

At first we thought all of these dogs belonged to people as they all had collars but later learned that the collars just mean that they have been vaccinated.

Greece even has water systems for all of the stray dogs and treat them pretty well. They all seem to love being in the wild and lay wherever they please.

So many fake purse shops in Plaka. All the girls in Greece seemed to be carrying around a fake Louis or Fake Gucci.

There's nothing wrong with a fake purse but the lady in the store tried to convince me that all purses are 100% real.

C'mon hunny, you are not going to have a $2,500 purse hang on a dirty wall outside to be ruined by all of the outdoor elements. At best it was made by 5 year old Chinese children forced into child labor.

This guy was awesome. He made the puppet really come to life with the bazillion strings that controlled it. He had a whole interactive bit with the Greek girl with live music accompanying the act.

Cats everywhere too. Not so many as dogs but still quite a few. How great is this shot? Looks like a pro photographer took it no?

We walked in the general direction of the Acropolis to catch a glimpse of it. We kind of knew we were going the wrong way but wanted to explore anyway.

Notice I'm wearing pretty summery clothes since it was around 70 degrees. Well for Greeks that's cold and people were wearing trench cuts...some even fur coats!!! I felt like such a tourist that day...ugh hate that feeling. Huge camera in my hand didn't help.

Finally saw the tip of the Acropolis but just our luck the gate was locked. The tour closed at 2pm so we had to come back the next day.

The next day we some how managed to miss the tour again so walked around the Acropolis some more. Love this photo of us, E.W. didn't want to be in it but a Greek lady insisted he go stand by me.

Sat down on steps while E.W. took a trillion photos of the Acropolis. He has a habit of taking 50 photos of the same thing until he gets just the right lighting or just the right angle. Being a perfectionist is good for business but damn annoying when you have to wait all the time! Doesn't help that we have a new fancy camera that takes amazing shots and makes taking photos that much more interesting.

Walking up the steps to the edge of the Acropolis. Asked a guy that looked like a pro photographer to take a pic of us. He had a camera on him that looked like it was three grand or more. Took this nice shot of us.

We finally walked up to the Herodes Atticus Theater entrance which was built in 161 AD. Pretty new for Greek standards!!

Had to walk across super slanted, rocky surface to get a good shot. E.W. did it first and made it look easy. Well it wasn't especially in my slippery boots. And it doesn't look like it but I was very very high up.

But the shot was worth it wasn't it?

We also visited the Acropolis museum which was right across the street from the Acropolis. Was very cool because the floors outside were plexi glass so you were literally standing over archeological findings.

In the museum we saw all of the precious statues that were salvaged from the Acropolis. Some had only a few pieces missing but most were in very poor shape and were barely pieced bag together. Such a shame. The damn Christians went around smashing all of the statues a long time ago because they didn't like the fact that they were naked!!!

Why didn't they just beat up their own naked bodies in the shower and leave the beautiful works of legendary art alone!!!

Some of the floors inside were plexi-glass as well and was very scary standing on the 3rd floor and looking down onto the first floor! Made you feel dizzy and weightless.

So finally on the third day we woke up early and made it to the Acropolis! Acropolis means "highest city" in Greek and is the site of Ancient Greece.

Stunning panoramic view from the hill we climbed up. I wish I didn't have to make it so small so that the detail was visible. Athens truly is a beautiful city that is surrounded by flowing green mountains.

A weird church thing that was the size of a port-a-potty. Maybe it is some kind of ancient church bathroom??? Anyway E.W. made me take a picture next to it.

E.W. also stole a piece of the Acropolis. He just picked up a piece of ancient marble and pocketed it. I was just hoping the Greek guards wouldn't see and shoot him on the spot.

Here is the Theatre of Dionysus which was one of the earliest theaters in the world where plays were performed in honor of the God Dionysus. It's not restored and not in use anymore but beautiful nonetheless.

Just imagine all the ancient Greeks that have sat on those steps and now little ol me is standing on them. Crazy crazy.

Still climbing the hill....gorgeous untouched beauty.

The Herodes Atticus Theatre again but from the inside. It is still used and many famous people have performed in it.

As you can see it is restored to a usable point.

It took forever to climb the hill to the top of the acropolis but the views of the city were worth it. Here is a panoramic of the entrance to the top.

Tah-dahhhh! I present the Parthenon! The most famous building in Greece. It's a shame that it had to be viewed with all of the scaffolding around but it's necessary for all the restoring they are doing.

It took 9 years to build the Parthenon and they have been restoring it for 30 years and not even half way done. Most of those pillars were destroyed and they have been piecing them together one by one. Like the world's most annoying and torturous jigsaw puzzle in 3D.

Men lifting giant ancient marble puzzle pieces and trying to figure out where they belong.

A few statues still remain but are in poor shape. Shame. How amazing is the city in the distance? We felt like we were on top of the world looking out over the city. Like Goddess Jewelz and God E.W. towering over their city Athens.

Dog just chillin on the Acropolis. What a life...he doesn't even have to pay for the tour. He can go walking around telling people that his house is the Acropolis! "Ye...I pee on the Parthenon daily..even shit on the statues sometimes!!"

After the Parthenon we took a stroll through the Parthenon gardens which was really more like a forest.

Tried to get the Acropolis in the background but didn't really work. Still a good shot.

While strolling through the gardens we ended up stumbling on Ancient Agora which is the site of many ruins.

And as the last pic of the post..I present to you the statue of Jewelz..arguably the most awesome statue in all of Greece.

Right after we got this shot a Greek guard yelled at me to get down. Well, rope the thing off if you don't want people touching it!!

After Ancient Agora, we grabbed lunch at a cafe around the corner and had Greek salad (of course), rice meatballs and beer.

Did I overload you with pictures yet??

Wait till the other posts...they are way more picturey and coolness filled.

Tags: , ,


Katie said...

I've never commented before, but I just had to say that these photos are awesome! It looks like such a beautiful place. I got a kick out of those stray dogs. They've got it nice.
Thanks for sharing your beautiful trip! =)

Anthony DiMeo III said...

love the photos

Jewelz said...

Thanks Katie :)
Loved the stray dogs...if I lived there I would probably have adopted 50 of them by now.

Giveaways for Mom said...

Following from Follow Me Monday!

Cindy said...

What a great adventure you had!!!

follower from Monday's hop

come on over to my place

Kelly Lund and Kids said...

Ooooh Gorgeous!! I have been following you for quite some time, and tell all my friends to check out your blog... I love it :) Thanks for sharing your awesome trip