Athens, Greece: June 12-17, 2017.
I timed our departure from Santorini for after check-in time at our hotel in Athens. Because we had 3 kids with us, I always prefer staying in one hotel room together. Met34 had great reviews and it was located within walking distance of everything. Our room had 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a sleeper sofa, and a kitchenette with some items stocked already. A daily breakfast basket + the Acropolis museum tickets were included as well.
We did not pre-plan Athens at all. We were gonna wing it. We had 5-ish days to explore. The only thing we did know was that the Acropolis and the Acropolis museum were a must-do.
"No matter where you are staying though, the top must is the Acropolis and the new Acropolis museum. Then walks around Plaka area, Theisio and Monastiraki which are located around the base of the Acropolis and then Sydagma Square to see the Guards in front of the Parliament building. My favorite secret neighborhood is off Plaka, right under the Parthenon called Nafiotika. It's one of the oldest neighborhoods and have the traditional white Cycladic style houses with amazing views of Athens.
There is a great pedestrian street called Dionysiou Areopagiti that starts at the Acropolis Museum metro station and goes all across the base of the Acropolis and leads to Kerameikos, an archaeological site. On this walk way you'll also come upon the Irodeion (Odeon of Herodes Atticus) where cultural events still take place. You might find a show going on the days you are here.
Kallimarmaro is also a great place to visit, it's the stadium from the first modern Olympic Games (also known as Panathenaic Stadium).
The National Gardens, which is close to The Parliament, is gorgeous! A great walk with kids.
There are quite a lot of museums that are kid orientated.
Now food!! Greece is known for good food. You have to try Souvlakia and eat at taverns. Plaka and Theisio have some great little taverns. Again, if you have islands planned eat at fish taverns (if obviously fish is liked by everyone in your family) for fish and seafood! Trust the waiters to tell you house specials and fresh catches of the day.
You're coming at a great time, I think it's the best season but it gets really hot too, not as bad a August but hats are a definite must!!
Athens has many neighborhoods, we live in the Northern suburbs and then the southern areas are by the sea which are lovely. If you'll have a car I would recommend driving towards Glyfada area, Vouliagmeni, Varkiza and if you are up for an adventure to keep driving down the coast all the way to Sounio which has the Temple of Poseidon. If no car, don't worry the Train, Metro, Bus and Tram transportation is really good and goes to many areas. So you won't miss out!"
Now, I've never done this before; meet someone from Instagram in another country. I actually don't meet very many new people at all. It's an inside joke with my friends and family because I am so socially awkward. I even warned Elphy about this before we met. Elphy and her family are just about the warmest and welcoming people ever! It felt like meeting old friends. They were gracious enough to walk us around their favorite part of the city and treated us to one of their favorite restaurants. K and Olivia got along so perfectly. They held hands during our walk.. it was the cutest thing! We ended the night at a their go-to gelato spot, Coco's. *Update since the trip: I love that they still talk about each other and Elphy and I thought it'd be great for them to be pen pals!*
Since the children's tour went so well in Rome, we thought we'd try one for the Acropolis too. I found Kids Love Greece through google and they seemed like a main resource for families. After a few emails and sending our payment via Paypal, everything was set. We were scheduled to meet our guide at the hotel at 8am, but she was a bit late (we weren't sure how to contact her so I had to open a chat with Kids Love Greece to figure out were she was). We decided to walk our way to the Acropolis since it wasn't too far away. We left our stroller back because we weren't sure if it'd be stroller friendly all the way (it's not).
We started the tour early because we read that there's not much shade atop the Acropolis. Earlier meant better weather and less of a crowd (it started to pack up as we were leaving around 11am).
While our tour guide was sweet, we didn't love this tour. The kids weren't as engaged and we all got a little bored. Not from the topic, but from the execution. Our tour guide for the Colosseum was enthusiastic and passionate, whereas our Acropolis guide seemed rather timid and reserved. Olivia didn't have any interest at all this time and I followed her around as she played with rocks (yup, rocks). Luckily, our boys already had some background in Grecian history and mythology.
PS. I couldn't find this info anywhere else, but sandals are definitely doable for the climb up the Acropolis. I brought sneakers because I read there are slippery spots, but it's really not that bad anywhere (unless it rains).
NEW ACROPOLIS MUSEUM:
TEMPLE OF ZEUS:
The only tip I consistently recommend when visiting touristy spots with kids: go early. Go at opening. Go a little earlier than opening and wait a little bit. Just do it.
FOOD AND DESSERTS:
On our first night, the concierge recommended Ergon. We wanted to eat and call it a night so that everyone would have the energy to explore the next day; Ergon was a few doors down from the hotel. This was probably 1 of the 3 places we had Greek food while in Athens. We were impressed by the design, branding, and execution of this place. Bubba loves mussels in white wine sauce and Ergon's was one of his favorites. Everyone loved the pasta. The prawns were so-so, but the steak was delicious (also a Bubba fav).
To be honest, after x amount of time anywhere, we always crave Asian food (we Asian). In fact, the kids start begging for it. Our favorite spot in Athens was East Pearl. It was within walking distance from the hotel and they don't hold back on flavor. It's usually packed in here and, sometimes, there's a line.
My little brother was craving sushi so we stopped into Osaka. We happened to walk by and quickly looked up their reviews. Their food was typical of what we expect from a Japanese/sushi restaurant. Nothing to write home about, but good enough for a simple meal.
Pink Flamingo intrigued us because it was a ridiculously cute set up. Their branding is on point. They serve dim sum and buns here. Again.. nothing to write home about. Worth a stop for cute pictures though. Olivia loved the waving lucky cats they displayed.
We picked up fresh smoothies nearly every day at Novagea. We usually make "green juice" every morning at home and Olivia actually craves it. When we travel, we always try to look out for a green smoothie fix. Novagea displays refrigerators full of fruits and vegetables. The smoothies are made right in front of you and you even assist a little.
Nolan is in the Michelin guide. It looked like a nice/modern restaurant with an interesting menu so we went in at opening one day. I think this would be classified as Asian fusion. Some dishes were really good (1st picture; we ordered it again), but the rest were just okay. The service was amazing, but I think we're used to flavors that pack more of a punch. Our palettes are definitely not refined enough for places like this.
What we did love was gelato. Anywhere and everywhere. The kids will agree to this as well. We tried two places: Coco's and DaVinci. Both were great. Coco's was usually very busy and is very highly rated (Elphy introduced us to this place). I always have pistachio. Liv always has pink. Bubs always has chocolate. Creatures of comfort.
We spent our last night in Athens walking up to the Acropolis again. We got there about 45 minutes before closing and literally had to beg the attendants to let us in and that we were okay with paying for what little time we had. It started to rain heavily as they were closing the grounds. I miscounted our emergency ponchos so only the kids were dry on our walk back. A street vendor kept trying to sell me an umbrella, but I was already drenched so might as well go all the way. It was a beautiful and funny farewell to an enchanting city.