I've found my new favorite vacation destination.
With the help of a summer job and generous parents, I had the privilege to visit Greece, a place I've been fantasizing about for years. Lars's best friend, Manos, is from Athens and graciously invited us to Greece, and we made one heck of a trip out of it! With enthusiastic mindsets and tight budgets we managed to see all the main attractions of Athens in one weekend, and explore the island Milos for one week. Condensing this trip into reasonable sized posts is not going to be easy, because there is so much fascination that needs to be shared! Greece is a truly magical country that deserves a novel size travel journal, but I'll try to keep it brief 😉
Top reasons to love greece: History, culture, architecture, islands, nature, climate, Greek people, and most notably, FOOD. I could do an entire post on Greek food. I am by no means a good cook (like the rest of my family) but this cuisine inspired me. We had such a hard time leaving Greece, so the first night we got back to Pécs we went to the store and bought two eggplants to recreate the oven baked eggplant, tomato and feta dish we had on several occasions the previous week. And guess what? It was delicious! And easy to make. Easy, healthy and delicious, as is most Greek food. So clearly, right up my food alley.
Our version: + corn....Because it was on sale. #studentlife.
Upon arriving in Athens we were immediately greeted by a welcoming hot, humid Mediterranean air and a smiling Manos. It was so good to be reunited again! 🙂 After settling into Manos's hospitable home, our stomach's told us it was time for dinner. Every time I got hungry in Greece I knew I was in for a treat! We headed to one of Manos's favorite restaurants , Mythos, where we ordered all the traditional Greek food: Greek salad, halloum cheese, tzatziki, tirokafteri (a spicy feta and hot paprika dipping sauce) and souvlaki to share.
While I dominated the feta, halloum, tirokafteri and tzatziki the guys generously started an eat-less-and-give-Katrina-more diet by default. I happily obliged 😉
These foods along with moussaka and pasticio, ended up being my favorite Greek foods. Feta cheese in Greece is another world compared to Feta elsewhere. Manos's mother, Jenny, told us it's not always real Feta that is packaged and sold as Feta elsewhere, and rather, should be called 'white cheese'. Proper Feta should be exported from Greece. I agree Jenny, let's make this right 😉 Needless to say, we all brought Feta cheese with us back to Hungary!
With our bellies satisfied we took an evening walking tour in Athens.
What a gorgeous city. Athens is for low key travelers and night owls alike. If you're a morning person, the city is bustling early on, but if you're up for a night out, Athens certainly won't disappoint!
Restaurant kitchens are open into late hours at night and people are enjoying food and drinks well into the morning hours. Restaurants, shops and even some museums are open very late. The days are just longer in Greece!
Thank God, because
we were all I was ready for dessert in no time!
Frozen yogurt is BIG in Greece now. And you can eat five times as much because it's so low calorie!!!! (<- advice you shouldn't take.)
All of the main attractions seemed to be within walking distance. We toured the center of Athens in a couple hours, visiting many shops and local attractions. I loved how aesthetically thought out everything was in the city. Each bar, cafe and restaurant had their own theme, making a simple cocktail into a unique experience.
(Don't be fooled by that glass of Ouzo. If I drank even half that amount I'd be flat on my face. Proceed with caution on that Greek delight, my friends!)
You won't be short on bad views in the city either. Acropolis by night was just breathtaking.
But I think our stellar tour guide had something to do with our good experiences 😉
Our first night was a staggeringly beautiful introduction to the city, so we couldn't wait to see what else this weekend had to offer!
The next morning after a typical breakfast of Greek yogurt, mysli and local honey, we dove head first into tourist mode.
We walked along the well guarded Prime Minister's road where we watched the changing of the guard. I find this ceremony fascinating in every country as each country has their own unique rituals. These soldiers standing and marching in the near 40 degree summer heat shows the incredible dedication each man has. Understandably, a guard has quite the honorable position!
We spent the remainder of the day touring Athen's must-see hotspots.
Such as the Olympic stadium:
Undoubtedly the heat and the hike up the colossal, mammoth sized mountain of 156 meters up to Acropolis took it out of us.
We bought 6 liters of water before we embarked on our trek to the Parthenon, and came back with 0. We also went to the bathroom once that whole day (overshare) but just to show how much you can sweat in that heat!
Needless to say, a lemonade tasted awfully good afterwards.
We headed to Mr. Peacock café / bar which was adorable!
I ordered a mint and ginger lemonade which was fantastic. The guys went for coffee, which is Greek for beer.
After some more touring of the boundless city, we headed to Manos's family's home where we were greeted with one of the greatest dinner's I've ever had.
Manos's parent's are fantastic cooks, and we enjoyed a feast of Greek salad, moussaka, spinach pie, pasticio, out of this world delicious tirokafteri, tzatziki (which Manos says is best with french fries! 😀 ) and traditional Greek wine. This meal was phenomenal and Greek cuisine quickly became my favorite food!
We enjoyed the cordial company of Manos's family, overlooking a breathtaking view of Athens, pleasantly lit up by a full moon!
The weekend in Athens was uplifting and breathtakingly beautiful. A city I would visit again in a heartbeat. I'm not much of a city-dweller, so what I liked about Athens was that it didn't feel like a big city at all. The small narrow roads and intimate atmosphere made the walkable city comfortable and approachable, not loud and intimidating like most big cities. We left so much undiscovered ! So Athens, I'll see you again soon!
And a heartfelt THANK YOU to Jenny and Spiros for hosting us for our unforgettable weekend in Athens. Your cooking, kindness, generosity and kind hospitality will never be forgotten! <3