We woke up early on the second day because our body clock had not adjusted itself to the time in Greece (+3 GMT). I quickly bathed and head down for breakfast. I was excited to see what’s available there.
The breakfast was served in the restaurant in level -1. Yes, instead of basement 1, they called it level -1, and basement 2 would be level -2 and so on. I joked to Pakcik that we were going to 第一层地狱 (level 1 of hell) for breakfast, and dinner might be served in 第十八层地狱 (level 18 of hell). LOL!
It’s the standard international breakfast buffet. There were different types of cheese, olives, bread, baby sausages, hams, eggs, button mushrooms, bacon, cereals, yogurt, salads, and olive oil. For desserts, there were different types of cakes, sweetened fruits, rice pudding, and fruit juices. We saw the greek coffee machine which will roast the coffee beans etc, but it seemed too complicated so we didn’t try it.
I took all the savory items because I like my breakfast to be filled with salt. But for Pakcik, he prefers his breakfast to be sweet, so he had the cakes, sweetened fruits and rice pudding.
I like the mini croissant and the cheese, so I had a second helping of them. I tried the olives too, but they were kinda too salty.
After breakfast, we headed back to the Plaka area to explore again. We took the map with us but it was a bit difficult to read because we kinda have to match the Greek words from the street names to the ones in the map.
The cafe along the streets looked very pretty and cozy. Plus, the weather is so cooling, it’s perfect to sit down, have a cup of coffee and people watch.
We reached the shopping street and of course I didn’t miss out a single shop there. =)
OMG! The sweets and chocolates looked so tempting!!
I noticed a few stalls selling these giant donuts and pretzels. Finally, I couldn’t resist anymore and went ahead to get the donuts with chocolate filling (1.20€). Those stalls in the more quiet streets priced the donuts at a cheaper price.
The donut wasn’t greasy, not too sweet and the chocolate would ooze out when I bit into it. Yum~
We then venture around, walking into small alleys, see many unknown statues, buildings, landmarks and ruins.
This is parliment at the Syntagma Square (which means Constitution Square). At every hour, there will be a changing of guard ceremony. But we didn’t know about it until we left Athens. Such a pity that we didn’t get to see the Greek guards wearing the pleated skirts performing the ceremony. =(
We continued walking to the left of the square. After some walking, we passed by a plaza with many pigeons.
I told Pakcik to run towards them so that I could take a photo of the flying pigeons. But Pakcik refused for he was scared that he might get bombed by the pigeons’ poo. Well.. it doesn’t kinda make sense, so I didn’t force him.
I felt a bit tired so we went to look for a cafe to rest our feet. We chose one of the many cafe and sat outdoor. Most of the people there chose the outdoor tables and turned their chairs to face the street to people-watch.
I looked at the menu and noticed that the beer was cheaper than the coffee, and almost the same price as soft drinks. I guess I will really become a drunkard living in Greece. =P
My beer came with a complimentary serving of potato chips. Pakcik chose the frappe with ice cream.
When we were done with the drinking and eating, we continued down the street. After some walking, we ended up in Monastiraki station. There are many stalls selling fresh fruits such as cherries, tangerines, apricots etc. Basically it’s a very busy Metro station as it’s an area to do shopping.
The Acropolis could be seen clearly at the background.
We found the Athens Flea Market just next to the station. Of course we went ahead to explore it.
Most of the shops are selling souvenirs, sports clothing, food etc. We weren’t very interested because the souvenirs were more of less the same as those sold in Plaka. But one of the shops caught our attention. It has so many beautiful dream catchers and comes in different sizes too. The shop also sells beads for making necklaces and bracelets.
We continued to walk to the end of the street and reached a steep slope. Seeing several tourists-look-a-like people walking up the slope, we decided to follow them. Our theory is: Wherever there are tourists, there must be a landmark or attraction.
After conquering the long and steep slope up the slippery marbled path, we found ourselves at the Areopagus hill. According to wikipedia, this place was the council of elders of the city in ancient time.
Anyway, it was a really huge piece of rock and steps have been carved for people to climb to the top.
Since the steps were steep and worn off, only Pakcik climbed up from there. I chose the more tourist-safe route, which is the metal staircase, to go up.
That’s Pakcik enjoying the view of the Athens city and acting like the king of the world. LOL!
The view on the hill was awesome! You could get a 360 degree view of the city. The feeling is very different from seeing out of a tall building with air-conditioning and glass windows. I stood on top of the rock, enjoying the strong wind and looking at the city, the mountains and the clear, blue sky. The view is so mesmerizing that you would end up staying there for very long and unknowingly get sun-burnt. That’s what happened to quite a number of tourists we saw. They were lobster-red when they came down from the hill.
This place is not included in the tour package and we are really glad that we found it by chance.
There is no entrance fee to the Areopagus hill (when I was there). It is advisable to wear proper shoes as it is easier to walk on the uneven rock surface. I was wearing slippers and if I weren’t careful, I could have slipped and twisted my ankle or something. Another point to note is, there is no railing or any sort of barrier on the rock, so if you wander too close to the edge, you will be at the bottom of the hill in a few seconds time. Which also means, it is dangerous to bring little kids or to let them run loose on the rock.
For photographers, remember to bring all your long distance lens or you will leave with regrets. =)
The Acropolis is just behind the Areopagus. The Temple of Athena can be seen clearly from the top of the rock.
Anyway, I hated the pictures of myself on the Areopagus. The wind was too strong and my hair was so messy that I looked like a mad woman.
We didn’t wait to see the sun set. Simply because, it was only around 5pm and the sun don’t set until 9.30pm. We had to attend the tour group welcome dinner at 7pm so we left the Areopagus hill after we were done taking tons of pictures.
Back at the hotel, we met up with the Trafalgar representative, Susanna, and were introduced to the rest of the tour group members. It was a very small group of 14 people including us. There were 4 from USA, 2 from Canada and 6 from Australia, which means we were the only Asians in the group. The age ranges from 22 to 60+. I liked my tour group because they were fun-loving and friendly. Throughout the 8 days tour, our group stick to the agreed meeting time, we didn’t need to wait for one other for too long at each attractions, and because we were good tour members, there were times that we were ahead of schedule and had more time for extra sight-seeing.
We met some other large tour groups during the trip and witnessed how they fight to get into the queue, fight for spot to take photographs and some rude ones even ask people to move away so that they could take photos of themselves only.
Anyway, back to the dinner, our welcome dinner was in the hotel.
We had the greek salad. There were tomato, zucchini, bell peppers, onions, olives, feta cheese, herbs and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. They were very generous with the feta cheese and olive oil. I like the salad a lot because it was light and the veggies were really fresh and crunchy.
I chose white wine to go with my main.
The main dish was roasted chicken with veggies. It was not bad.
After the dinner, some of the tour group members went out for a walk, while me and Pakcik decided to rest early and get ready for the next day. We were scheduled to leave for the tour in Athens the next morning at 8.30am. Thank goodness Trafalgar didn’t make us wake up at 5am and leave by 7 am, which some of the other tours were doing.