Day 8: Athens
Although day eight was supposed to be a free day, we decided to pack it full of activities. We slept in a little…waking up around 8, had breakfast at the hotel and headed out.
National Archeological Museum
Our first stop was the National Archeological Museum, which is full of artifacts from all over Greece. Our tour director told us we should taxi since the metro doesn’t exactly go to the museum and the surrounding area is sketchy, but we decided to take it anyway since we had passes. It was moderately worse than the areas we had previously been to but no sketchier than the subway in NYC. We got off at the Omonia stop and walked about 1.2 Km to the museum. It was 10 euros to get in. Our tour director told us we could tour the whole thing in about 1.5 hours, but we were there for just over two and had to basically run through to see a good portion of it. There were three floors of artifacts. Everything ranging from death masks, pottery galore! (even things dated back to 17th-16th century B.C.), statues, weapons, medical equipment, and jewelry.
A 2000-year-old flea market
We then made our way back to Monastiraki, we walked through the flea market. We made it past all of the touristy souvenir shops and eventually made it to the 2000-year-old part which was packed full of stuff. By this point, the sun was getting overwhelming. We made our way back to Monastiraki and Old Town, to stop at Krinos, a loukoumades (Greek donuts) shop, Jason had told us about. It opened in 1922. They fry dough and then drench it in honey-citrus syrup with a little cinnamon on top. You can also get it with ice cream. They also had cold water which was refreshing since it had been difficult to find anything much cooler than room temperature up until this point. We ate our loukoumades, filled up our water and headed to the Panathenaic Stadium.
The Panathenaic Stadium
The current stadium is the third built on this spot (the first in 6th century B.C., the second in 330 B.C., and this in 144 A.D. It was renovated for the modern Olympics in 1896) and is the only stadium in the world built entirely of marble. The Panathenaic Stadium hosted the modern Olympic games in 1870, 1875, 1896, 1906, 1006, and 2004 (I stole all this info from the internet because I couldn’t remember). It was 5 euros to enter the stadium and I don’t think I’ve ever been happier. I LOVE the Olympics!! Haha
After leaving the stadium, we made our way back to the hotel to shower before dinner. Before showering, however, we made our way up to the rooftop pool. The lifeguard wasn’t impressed since it was 15 minutes before it closed, but we hopped in anyway. The water was freezing! We then had plans to go to The Wee Dram, a Scottish bar, to eat dinner and watch the UEFA Champions League Final between Liverpool and Real Madrid. This is apparently equivalent to the Superbowl here in the US. The four of us took turns showering. When Kara, who went last, finished her shower, she came out to the three of us passed out. We were so tired that we fell asleep as soon as we stopped moving.
After a quick power nap, we walked to The Wee Dram, getting lost a little on the way. By the time we got there the place was packed, shoulder to shoulder. Instead, we walked back toward the hotel looking for a place to eat. We stumbled into a Greek restaurant, which I think was called Piatsa Kalamaki Panormou (everything was in written in Greek). They were able to scrounge up a couple of menus in English from the back. The food was amazing and it was full of locals.
Americans watching the UEFA League Final at a Scottish bar in Athens
After eating half of the group headed off to do other things while Amanda, Kara, and I headed back to The Wee Dram to watch the game. We literally had to squeeze our way through a bunch of people dressed in all red and white to get inside. We found a tiny space near the bar. After standing for a while…I pushed my way up to the bar, but there was no way to tell what they had on draught. I just shouted out a brand of beer I had seen others with at dinner, which apparently was not something they served as the bartender pointed at a glass and said “Alfa?!” To which I replied as if that’s exactly what I had said, “Yeah!” I paid for the beers and wrestled my way back to the tiny little spot where Amanda and Kara were standing, with strangers behind me pushing me through. We only stayed until about half-time because it was so crowded, but the excitement was palpable and it was a really awesome European experience.
We headed back to the hotel, repacked our bags (we had another flight tomorrow. Onto Santorini!), and headed to bed. 25,000K steps in sandals were beginning to take its toll.