Travel Tuesday: Athens Day 1

Last spring, I took an absolutely incredible trip to Athens with two of my best girlfriends and their significant others. They were already going to be in Europe and when they asked me to join them in Greece, I couldn’t say no. Mostly because it was just so affordable – flights on British Airways through London were fairly inexpensive and we stayed in a beautiful AirBNB  in downtown Athens for about $20 per person per night. I left Baltimore Thursday evening and touched down in Athens Friday afternoon where I hopped a train from the airport to downtown. Before long I was climbing the stairs to our third floor apartment and joining my friends for an amazing Greek adventure!

I was exhausted but eager to explore the city so our group headed out for a walk to dinner. The weather was PERFECT the whole time we were there. Pleasantly hot and sunny during the day and comfortable in just a cardigan or light jacket at night. The walk from our AirBNB took us through the National Gardens and we ended up at a vegetarian restaurant to appease our veggie friends. For my first meal in Greece I wanted something traditional and opted for the falafel platter – the first of many delicious meals! After dinner we had a couple glasses of wine at the apartment and called it a night.

img_0616

We were up early the next morning for a day of sight seeing but first, coffee. After a quick breakfast of scrambled eggs (with feta cheese!) at the house, we ventured to Coffee Island – a chain coffee shop that we saw throughout Athens. Coffee Island was the bomb – they made amazing frappes, had clean bathrooms and free wifi! Frappes are a nescafe drink unique to Greece and Cyprus – instant coffee, sugar and water are shaken to make a foam which is added to cold water, ice cubes, and evaporated milk. You could specify how sweet you wanted it and it was so, so good. I had one a day and have been craving it since coming back to the States.

img_0809

After our coffee fix we started our walking tour of Athens. We followed a walking tour in our Fodor’s guide book and started at the Temple of Zeus where we purchased a set of passes for 12 different landmarks. The giant columns are all that remains of an enormous temple dedicated to the god Zeus. The columns were so impressive and this was one of my favorite sights in Athens. Right outside of the Temple of Zeus is Hadrian’s Gate – an arch honoring Roman Emperor Hadrian built in 132 AD. This seems obvious, but we couldn’t help being awestruck at just how OLD everything was during our walks around Athens.

dsc_0830

From the Temple we walked to the Theater of Dionysus and then on to the Acropolis (which were two additional sites we had access to with our passes). All of the ancient structures were so impressive.The Acropolis was noticeably more crowded than the other sites but not too overrun with tourists as March is still their off season. The views were fantastic!

img_0687

From the Acropolis we walked down the opposite side in search of lunch. We found a cafe with outdoor seating and dined on chicken kabobs, tzatziki, fries and pita. We spent the rest of the day walking around downtown Athens in a popular area with shopping and restaurants. We took an afternoon break at a cafe to rest, use free wi-fi and refuel with coffees (and spiked hot chocolate) and desserts. For dinner that night we walked to Smile Restaurant. The menu was vegetarian friendly and super affordable (like most places in Athens). I had a Greek salad with an enormous slab of feta and a delicious moussaka.

By the time we walked home from dinner we were exhausted – it was quite a busy first full day of vacation!

Advertisements

2016 Year in Review

Happy New Year, Baltimore! Long time no blog, but in 2017 we will be back at it. To catch up real quick on what’s been going on, I’m here today with a year in review! See what happened in May that temporarily derailed blogging.

January – The first month of 2016 was bookended by travel – in early January, Adam and I spent a few days in Miami and at the end of the month I met my bff in Nashville for the NHL All-Star Game. Nashville is such a fun city and even though I was there for work, we managed to squeeze in some fun. Both the skills challenge and all-star game were a blast and Jessie and I snagged a pic with the Stanley Cup.

February – We celebrated Valentine’s Weekend with dinner at Brendali , made the trip to College Park to watch the Terps lose to Wisconsin and had a Galentine’s Day lunch at Cheesecake Factory. Work travel continued with a trip up to Buffalo for an event with the Sabres. Since it was my first time in Buffalo I had to see Niagara Falls and even though it was absolutely freezing, the falls were gorgeous and so impressive!

March – Obviously I was feeling the travel bug in 2016 because in March I flew to Athens for five amazing days with a couple of my best girlfriends. We ate Greek yogurt and Greek salads with tons of fresh feta, souvlaki, spanakopita, moussaka, octopus and it was all fabulous. We rented an AirBnb downtown and walked all over the city from the Acropolis to Lycabettus Hill. We took a ferry to nearby Aegina and rented a car to spend the day exploring. The whole trip was super affordable and we felt so welcomed by all of the Greeks that we met. Every morning we made a pit stop at Coffee Island (a coffee chain that’s probably the Greek equivalent to Dunkin’ Donuts) for frappes – an icy, sweet drink made with Nescafe instant coffee that I wish I could find in the US! Greece was clearly my March highlight, but I also did some fun things when I got back in town: Jeanette and I ran the Shamrock 5k and had a great time at Light City and Adam and I celebrated our first anniversary!

April – Since apparently I can’t stay in one place for too long, I flew to Chicago for a night in April for a Chicago Blackhawks game for work. The rest of the month was spent in Baltimore, celebrating Jeanette’s birthday and running my first 10k – the Sole of the City – completing one of my goals for 2016.

May – We packed a lot into May, we celebrated Mother’s Day, made a trip to the Maryland Zoo, saw Beauty and the Beast at the Hippodrome, and had friends over to watch the Preakness.  But, this particular May will go down in history as the month we found out we were expecting!

June – Most of the summer was a blur of morning sickness and exhaustion, but in June I celebrated the wedding of Adam’s cousin, ran walked the Baltimore Women’s Classic 5 and had a staycation at the Hyatt. June also marked the final blog post of the year because let me tell you, pregnancy is no joke and making it to work and home to bed was pretty much all I could manage.

July – Still not feeling so hot, but spent a week in Chicago for work including an afternoon of sightseeing in Millennium Park and dinner at Shaw’s Crab House. We also celebrated the wedding of friends at the Sheraton Baltimore. The ceremony was beautiful and we had a blast dancing and taking pics in the photo booth.

August – In August, we spent a week at the Outer Banks with my mom, soaking up the sun, drooling over Duck Donuts and playing miniature golf. We also spent a long weekend with Adam’s cousin and her boyf in Ocean City. People usually knock beach food, but we had a great dinner at Liquid Assets.

September – Back  to the beach, this time to Bethany with Adam’s family. We ate at Off the Hook (my fave kale caesar with a crab cake) and played more mini golf. Later in September, I celebrated my birthday with a few friends at Brendali followed by froyo at Afters. Brendali – with it’s no frills look and delicious food – was perfect for a festive group, especially since it is BYOB.

birthday

October – The month of falltivities: Renaissance Festival, Larriland Farm and my cousin’s gorgeous fall wedding at the Homestead. I also spent a week in Houston for work and was finally feeling completely over morning sickness!

November – Celebrated Adam’s birthday with an amazing dinner at Charleston and spent a weekend in DC for a little baby moon. We stayed at a Marriott downtown and enjoyed great dinners at Zaytinya and Le Diplomate. We also made our first trip to the Newseum and to the famed Daikaya for ramen. We enjoyed Thanksgiving with Adam’s family and by the end of the month I had sort of almost recovered from the shock of the election.

December – Another busy month to close out the year! A weekend of showers with a bridal shower for one friend and a baby shower for another, two Terps games, a festive Christmas Eve dinner at Grano Emporio,  a visit to 34th Street in Hampden to see the lights and New Year’s dinner at Sobo Cafe.

And now here we are, January 2017 and baby due in three weeks! Hoping we won’t go silent for another six months and we’ll be able to update you all on our escapades in our favorite city.

Best wishes to everyone for an amazing year!