Greece — Euro 2017 Summer Adventure

Hey guys! It’s hard to believe it’s already end of August, this summer has just FLOWN by.  Despite how quickly the summer is going…I think Costco is confused.  They are already selling Christmas items, hello, we still have back to school & Halloween shopping to do — don’t steal my retail therapy from me.  Anyway, moving on… I’m super excited to share the next chapter of my Euro 2017 Summer Adventure — this time we’re hoping on a jet plane and landing in … wait for it… GREECE!  That’s right — land of olives, islands & beef souvlaki.

To be quite honest I was somewhat disappointed with Greece…while the islands were dreamy Athens was…well..was not.  To begin, Athens is a dump.  Quite literally, there was a garbage strike occurring while I was there.  Mix garbage and 40°C weather and what do you get…that’s right… a terrible stench (#gross).  Now rest assured there is more to Greece than the strike… it was just a less than ideal circumstance for tourists that I wished to share.

The Stay

We stayed at the Royal Olympic Hotel near the district of Plaka. The visage & the lobby were gorgeous… you could even say you felt like royalty!  However, move on up to rooms and you are sure to be disappointed.  Because I was travelling with my parents we had a small suite which included one bathroom, a small adjoining room with a twin bed & two twin beds pushed together for a make shift large bed.  You only discovered that there were two beds, when you found yourself falling in between the cracks.  You think I’m joking but I am not and since I was the smarty pants that decided to jump into the bed, you can imagine how “thrilled” I was to find myself stuck.

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Loving this gorgeous view from the roof top patio!

The best part of the stay was breakfast; the view was SPECTACULAR!  You see two of the most important sites (the Acropolis & Zeus’s Temple) while sipping your morning coffee.  I actually had to get my dad to pinch me to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.  The restaurant is a rooftop patio with parts shaded & other parts open for self baking.  My advise would be for you to select a table in the shade, the first day I decided to sit in the sun (to get the best of the view) and quickly realized that even with copious sunscreen I could still feel my skin burning. We lasted a full 10 min at that original table before we requested a switch.

Breakfast is on a first come first serve basis — no table reservations.  The meal is served as a buffet & like in Rome it rarely differed all week. Items ranged from fruit (apples & oranges), squares, cereal, roast potatoes, sausage, eggs, seasoned vegetables & of course my favourite… coffee!  Our room price included breakfast so we took full advantage!

I think it’s important to note that if you do plan an early excursion, apparently it is not reasonable to expect the hotel to place items from the buffet into a to-go container. For this service, expect a €20/person charge.

The hotel is adorned with a pool & fitness centre as well as several lounging areas in the lobby. A bell hop will tend to your luggage during check in and check out.  We also found housekeeping to be very friendly and accommodating during our stay ( a nice reprive from the service in Rome).

Overall I would rate my stay ♥♥ out of 5 hearts, I was expecting much more for the cost of the hotel.

The Sites 

The Acropolis

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View of the Acropolis

I think my favourite site in Athens was the Acropolis, located at one of the highest vantage points.  It felt strange knowing we were in a space that helped shaped the world we live in today.

“Wisdom begins in Wonder” — Socrates

Entry into the Acropolis is not free, the cost is €20/person.  To reach the top is approximately a 20-30min hike.

Funny story…because I wouldn’t be the Trotting Traveller without those.  I went on this trip with my parents,  and I must say they were troopers in keeping up with my pace & enthusiasm.  During our visit to the Acropolis, my dad was eager to climb to the top and being tall he is able to walk far just by mere stride.  My mom however, is more like a cute little kitten and wants to explore & see everything, thus not keeping pace with my dad. So me…well…being the incredible daughter that I am I basically climbed the Acropolis twice…once with my dad and then I’d turn around and make sure my mom was okay and climb it again with her.  I highly advise shoes with a rubber grip as several of the stones are slippery due to erosion… falling from that height might put a damper on your trip.  Also, visiting in the morning or late afternoon is better in the summer months — just to avoid the heat because man it gets SUPER hot.

The Acropolis is made up of several historical sites — these include the Parthenon, the Dionysius & the Temple of Athena.  While they were magnificent to see, I was sad by the lack of maintenance of the sites.  Agreed that the ruins are very old — I just feel like more could be done to preserve them through the years.

I would rate this site ♥♥♥ out of 5 hearts.

The Temple of Zeus

The Temple of Zeus

Okay, with a name like this I was expecting something EPIC. Instead what I found were some pillars — upright or crumbled to the ground.  Entrance is €5/person and you can’t even get close enough to touch the pillars.  That being said, seeing the ruins gives you an idea of how massive it would have been 3000 years ago.  You can do a “google search” to see what the monument would have looked like in ancient times. It’s a kind of a tragic ending to Zeus’ temple.

I would rate this site ♥ out of 5 hearts.

The Boat Cruise

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The view of the island from the boat

In order to make the most of the time we had in Greece we hopped on a one day boat tour visiting 3 of the Greek islands.  Now, before you get excited, no I did not go to Santorini.  We were fairly pressed for time and besides, to me, Santorini seemed more like a honeymoon spot rather than a family vacation destination.

To tell you the truth, the islands is where it’s at in Greece.  I would highly recommend just seeing the islands and not worrying about the mainland.  The three islands we visited were Aegina, Poros, & Hydra.  Each lovely in it’s own way.

One of the fantastic doors I found in Greece!

For example, Hydra is a “car-free” island.  This means that no motorized vehicles are allowed on the island and the residents use either donkeys or horses to get around town.  It was a very “artisan” island and extremely picturesque.   There are gelato stores at every corner and was the type of place you would want to get lost exploring in. Not to mention all the INCREDIBLE doors, yes I love fancy doors.

Hi, I’m the Trotting Traveller & I have a door problem.

Aegina, is the largest of the three islands and is well known for it’s pistachio farms.  A word of warning, if you refuse to try a vendor’s pistachio they will literally follow you down the street.  Another fun fact, Aegina was originally the capital of Greece & is home to Apheae’s Temple.

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The beautiful streets in the Greek islands!

The smallest of the three islands is Poros. Besides its charming view and small European town feel there isn’t a ton to do.  It’s main source of income is lemon and orange farming so from the decks of the boat the island looks … well it looks like fall — all orange and yellow!

Overall, the cruise was lovely but very long.  It was a great way to visit some of the islands and pack as much fun into a short time frame as possible.  I think it may have been more fun if more of the boat were covered, the temperature on our voyage day was 44°C.  Do not by any means forget your sunscreen. I would rate this excursion ♥♥ out of 5 hearts.

Delphi

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Apollo’s Temple

Delphi is located a few hours outside of Athens.  This early morning excursion was similar to our earlier trip to Naples & Pompeii in that we hopped on a tour bus and were guided through this historical site.  The countryside of Greece is gorgeous, with olive groves, pastures and rolling hills.  The hills quickly turn to mountains as we approached Delphi since it is located at a higher altitude.

You’re probably thinking that some hills and olive trees do not warrant a 5am start to the day and if Delphi was only that I would agree with you.  However, Delphi is home to Apollo’s align.rightTemple,  and THAT is why the 5am start is required.  The ruins date back to 4th Century BC… yup BC aka Before Christ.  It’s so hard to imagine that these historical sites have lasted so long & have so much detail.  Paintings and etchings, incredible carvings and precise placement of rocks.

The day we chose to go to Delphi the temperature was 48°C…I felt like I would melt and become part of history (like the wicked witch of the west).  Regardless of the heat, the view from the site was stunning — you felt like you were one with nature.

I would rate this excursion ♥♥♥♥ out of 5 hearts!

The District of Plaka

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The District of Plaka

The District of Plaka  is the oldest part of Athens and the most tourist friendly with some streets closed off to motor traffic. This area is rich with restaurants and shopping, it’s similar to bazaars I’ve been to in other countries.  However, don’t bother trying to bargain with the store owners, their prices are pretty much set in stone.

Fun fact about Plaka (because you can always count on me for dinner time conversation), the district of Plaka was originally know for its nightclubs.  It was changed over to a touristy area in an effort to rid the city of “undesirables”.

In my opinion, the shops are mostly souvenir based and often carry trinkets (or junk?).  Who really needs a plastic sculpture of socrates head??  If you have a tacky souvenir collection or enjoy buying small things for loved ones back home than you’re sure to find plenty of treasures in this area.

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Found a door in Plaka!

Well this marks the end of the Euro 2017 Summer Adventure Series.  The overall trip was two weeks long with a week dedicated to Italy & a week dedicated to Greece.  Personally, I loved Italy more than Greece but this may change once I take a trip to Santorini.  I rate my time in Greece ♥♥♥ out of 5 hearts.  I would rate my entire Euro Adventure ♥♥♥♥♥ out of 5 hearts.  While some parts may have been less fun, in my opinion travelling broadens minds, and exposes us to new cultures, traditions & food.  Bonus, I now have so many stories to tell!

“Travelling. It leaves you speechless, & then turns you into a storyteller.” -Ibn Battuta

I hope this post gave you some insight into your next trip to Greece.  I’m a free spirited soul, I can’t wait until my next adventure!

XOXO,

Trotting Traveller ♥

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