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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Things to do in Athens

Greece is my favourite Europe destination. The Greeks are very welcoming. If we looked like in a fix with a map, we would have passer-bys proactively asking if they could help with directions. It also helped that most of the good looking people are found in Greece.

Other than the obvious Acropolis, and the hammam experience (a must do), here're my best memories of Athens.
There are 8 archaeological sites, it took me 2 days to walk them all.
Where to Eat
You'll regret if you miss Oikeio (pronounced as Ikio) as every item on the menu is heavenly. Recognized by Tripadvisor (Certificate of Excellence 2013) and Michelin Guide (Bib Gourmand Prize), best is to book in advance. For high quality ingredients and authentic Greek recipes, the prices are very affordable. I think our table of 8 cost less than 200 euros. Moussaka is very Greek, an eggplant with mash potato lasagna  Every morsel made me tear with joy. Be sure to order the saganaki , pan fried feta covered with sesame and honey. Once you pop, you can't stop!

Oikeio
  • Ploutarchou 15
    Athens 10675
    Phone: +30 210 7259216

    From restaurant to street side, a few steps away is another typical Greek cuisine, the souvalki. These are grilled meat skewers. A typical after-party stick, i particularly like the meat patties as well as home-made chunky fries. The bill for 5 was less than 40 euros. 

    Kalamaki Kolonaki
    Ploutarchou 32, Kolonaki
    +30 210 7218800

    Where to Shop

    Plaka is near the acropolis and it took us awhile to locate where it is. We didn't know we were in it until we were quite sure we were in it because there was no other street like it! I swear i wasn't trying to play mind games by just writing that sentence. Plaka is the historical neighbourhood of Athens, the area is very different from others. If you arrived in an area with slopes and white washed tourist shops left and right, you are in Plaka. 
Epmoy is a girl's heaven. Greek fashion brought me to my knees. While the clothing and shoes on this shopping street are not quite cheap, they are of such style and simplicity that I can't resist. Clothes are what makes a Greek Goddess.

Where to Go
We used http://www.viva.gr/ to book our ferry tickets to Mykonos.

An easy 3 hours away, we were in paradise! A Greece visit is incomplete without paying homage to the islands.
The flowers were blooming, the walls were without a speck. It is a community effort to keep Mykonos looking the way it is.
Oops, i think i dirtied the wall with that foot pose.

Caught the secret painter who keeps the walls so white!
The most beautiful sun set i've seen. 
My Spainard's face can launch a thousand ships. 
Mykonos has enough shops to keep a girl busy shopping as well as sea and sand to spend the day. October is the best month to go as the party summer crowd have gone so it is less crowded. Shops on this island open till late. When it is summer, it can stay open as late as 4am.
Be sure to eat at Pasta Fresca at 15 Kouzi Georgouli str. We chanced upon it getting lost among the narrow alleys that looked identical because of the white. You can't miss it, with such a display of handmade pasta outside. The pasta is AMAZING.
If you're into getting your fortune read the Greek way, you can get it by drinking a Greek coffee at Archileos 47, Paleo Faliro. Be mindful that there is also an Archileos street in the city center, it isn't that. We took a tram from Syntagma and it was an adventure just tracing down this cafe. It is one of the rare few still standing as people no longer frequent such. We went for the fun of it, believing it completes the Greek experience. 
Greek coffee actually tastes very bad. It has so much residue in it, its the worst coffee I've drank. However, it is from the texture that leaves behind your fortune. Don't get me wrong, you certainly can drink a Greek coffee any where, it doesn't necessary come with a reading. Like ancient Chinese monks reading inside the temple bells which evolved to the Chinese reading tea leaves in a tea cup (which resembles the temple bell), the Greeks uses their coffee. 

The coffee residue is read outside in. The outer rim represents the next 2 months and the maximum you can know about your future is 6 months. The lady speaks limited English but wrote the rest in Greek which needed translation. A reading costs 25 euros on top of 6 euros for the coffee that tastes nothing like Starbucks for that price.
The Gazi area has many quaint cafes to wile away an afternoon. Food is nothing to call home about though.
The College
Having not taken biology, i got a crash course on anatomy in the local Athens Central Market found on Athinas Street (Omonia station). Opened only Mon to Sat, from 7am to 3pm.

The butchers are super friendly and welcoming for pictures. It felt like a horror movie, walking into a slaughterhouse with men in white lab coats splattered with blood.
Not for the faint hearted and weak stomachs, i have not seen anywhere else where animals are skinned whole and displayed. One butcher told us that animal on the top left, with a cigarette from its mouth, is a cat. Later on his neighbour whispered to us he was pulling our leg. It's a lamb.
Rabbits with their furry tail still intact.
Dentures, anyone?
Greece, the true experience. 
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