With the promise of a PCS on the horizon, I knew it was time to get cracking on my European travel bucket list. Sure, going to Latvia would be awesome, but what countries will I kick myself for having missed out on should we leave Germany in the next few months?
Greece. That’s the one I had to see. Ever since I took a Greek mythology class in community college I’ve wanted to take a trip to this ancient country and now I finally had the chance. With only a long weekend to explore the country we focused in on Athens.
About a week before our trip I booked a flight and an AirBNB. We did AirBNB for a few reasons.
- I wanted a place that I could do laundry for free since I only wanted to bring carry-ons
- I wanted a place with a kitchen so we wouldn’t have to eat out every meal
- We stayed at an AirBNB on our way to the Netherlands and loved it
Word to the wise: plan more than a week out (duh). I know I could have saved some money on lodging, or at least had more places to choose from, and definitely would have saved money on plane tickets for our whole family. As it was, I used SkyScanner and chose the cheapest flights that didn’t go through a sketchy country (but, honey, we could save $200 if we just take the 14-hour layover in Syria!).
Things went pretty smoothly before the trip. I was able to fit all of our luggage into carry-ons (thanks, Army, for teaching me how to pack) the night before our flight. Also, I was able to check in ahead of time online and print out our tickets. That way when we got to the airport we were able to just go straight through security rather than having to stop at the ticket counter. #winning. The flights went just as horribly as expected. We were those people with the crying baby. Eh, oh well. Like, seriously, I love that by the 3rd kid this totally just doesn’t bother me anymore. They were short flights. You only have to hear my kid scream for maybe an hour. I have to listen to her scream 24/7. You’ll be ok.
We flew from Nuremberg to Munich to Athens. By the time we got to our final destination it was almost midnight. Our AirBNB host was super awesome and he met us at the airport with keys to the apartment and was able to hail a cab for us and give them directions in Greek for us. Finally we made it to the apartment and crashed for the night.
The next morning we were up bright and early. Our apartment was 200m from the Acropolis and on the third floor and had a really nice view of the city. After we were all showered and dressed, the first thing we did was go to find a supermarket and get some groceries for our stay. We saved a lot of money by booking a place with a kitchen so we wouldn’t have to eat out every meal. Plus, eating out with kids is pretty much horrible (if you need more evidence read about our trip to Prague).
With our shopping trip complete, the groceries put away and some fresh coffee running through our veins we headed out to the Acropolis Museum. This was a really beautiful museum filled with ancient artifacts and art. It was less than €10 for adults and the kids were free. We enjoyed the chance to learn some of the history behind what we were about to see when we made our way up the mountain to the Acropolis, which is what we did once we finished at the museum.
Just so you know, entrance to the Acropolis is not cheap. It’s like €20/person over the age of 5. But, it’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities so we forked over the money and started our hike. There are a lot of stairs so if you have little ones bring a carrier. Also, there is hardly any shade so it gets really hot and all of us got sunburnt, so be prepared with hats, sunscreen and water. Once you make it to the top, though, it’s all worth it.
How amazing is it to stand in a place that somebody stood over 2,500 years ago? How amazing is it to imagine all the feet that slowly eroded the marble on which we walked, creating smooth dents in every stair? How amazing is it to imagine all the history, all the people and their stories, all the tragedies and triumphs, all the changes in the world that have taken place while these very buildings stood here, unchanging despite the chaos around them? It’s pretty amazing.
So we left the Acropolis full of amazement (please, say “amazing” one more time, Deb) and walked around to see some of the other historical sights. Of note was Mars Hill where the Apostle Paul is said to have preached and where you can get some great shots of the Acropolis. After dinner we went back out and saw the Temple of Zeus and Hadrian’s arch and explored a nearby public park.
The next day way Sunday. Oh, but it wasn’t just any Sunday. It was Greek Orthodox Easter. Which we didn’t know when we decided to go on our trip because it is not the same day as every other Christian religion’s Easter. Which meant almost everything was closed. Awesome.
Here are the things that were available for us to enjoy while everything else was shut down:
- McDonalds (of course)
- The beach
- Watching the changing of the guard at the Presidential Mansion
- Most of the shops in the famous Plaka neighborhood
So that’s where we went. We started with watching the changing of the guard, which was conveniently right across from McDonalds where we got the kids some ice cream cones. Then we paid waaaaay too much for a hop-on-hop-off bus ticket that would take us to the beautiful beach for an hour or so (seriously, we should have just paid a taxi), and then finished our day walking around the Plaka neighborhood where we saw dozens of little lambs being roasted rotisserie-style in typical Greek Easter fashion. The boys found this both fascinating and horrifying.
“But, mommy, lambs are cute!”
“Yes, but they’re also delicious, so…”
Hopefully they aren’t scarred for life. Also, I just realized I totally should’ve named this post “Athens: Carry-Ons and Carrion”.
Our last day we really only had time to pack up, tidy up the apartment and head out to take a bus to the airport.
We really enjoyed the few days we spent in Athens. The food was great (eat a gyro and try some real Greek yogurt!), there is so much history, the sunny weather was a nice break from the usually cold and grey German weather we’re used to a
nd the people were delightful. They were friendly, talkative and welcoming, and love children! Almost everywhere we went people were laughing with our children, admiring the baby and giving free trinkets to our boys. I really wish I had more time to explore the rest of Greece. I can’t wait until I have a chance to go back and see more cities and all of Greece’s islands. Goodbye for now, Athens, I’ll come back again, I promise!
I hope you enjoyed the story of our vacation to Greece! What country is on your bucket list? Let me know in the comments below!