As I gave away in my last post, our 2015 summer vacation took us to Greece. The decision to Greece was a spontaneous one, we had pondered where to go for some while before we came up with the idea to go there. We were a little hesitant at first, especially since we’d be going there in at the height of the Euro-crisis and did not know what to expect. Fortunately we got some first hand information from people who had been there recently who told us not to worry about what made the headlines at that time.
When we go somewhere we usually like to rent a car and drive around quite a bit, to take in as much as possible. This also reduces the risk of being stuck in a disappointing location for too long. In North America we usually book only the first few nights ahead of time and then figure out our route and the length of each stay as we go along, booking via the Internet each night. In Greece this was not really an option since a lot of the hotels we’d want to stay in where really small and completely booked way ahead of time. So we figured out a reasonable route and booked a few nights at each stop.
Obviously we flew into Athens and had a nice hotel for the first few nights, after which we’d pick up our car. This turned out to be a good choice since one of our suitcases did not arrive with us on the plane. So while we had all of our chargers, documents and cosmetics, the suitcase with all of our clothes and shoes was stuck somewhere between Germany and Greece. To make a long story short: It would not arrive until three days before our departure. At least in Athens we were able to buy some affordable clothes at H&M. On a positive note, not having clothes to change into told us just how little you actually need to go on vacation in a warm country.
Athens was simply amazing and, more so than we’d hoped for. We arrived on a Sunday evening which was a bit of a shocker. Our hotel was in the middle of city and we had to walk a few blocks from the subway station. On our way there we passed one closed shop after another, often looking very derelict with every square inch covered in Graffiti. When we walked down the same street the next morning we did not recognize it, since every shop was open and everything was bustling with activity. This pattern was repeated in different parts of the town: Areas that look like you might get mugged every second transform into a busy shopping and tourist lane the next day.
The center of Athens is dominated by the mighty Acropolis, even more so at night when it is being lit up. Just going up to the Acropolis and walking around some of the adjacent old city blocks will easily consume a whole day. The streams of tourists were ever-present but it was a lot more bearable than other locations like Paris or certain Canadian National Parks. We even had the luck of seeing the (by now infamous) Syntagma Square without any indication of the recent (or upcoming) protests.
Probably the biggest joy of going on vacation the local cuisine. This was a major factor that made us pick Greece, and we would not be disappointed. Athens has many small romantic streets with restaurants and Tavernas of different sophistication. Yet, no matter whether you sit down in a fancy restaurant or in a tourist grill place, the food is sublime. A word of advice though: Unless you want to stick out as the ignorant tourist you’re well advised to follow the rhythm of the Greeks: No big meal at noon and dinner not before 9pm. This worked a little in our favor since we were always able to get the spot we wanted if we went to the restaurants at around 8-9pm when the tourists had already left.
After the busy streets of Athens we had scheduled a trip north, towards a small fisher town called Galaxidi, close to the ancient city of Delphi.