Falling for Stray dogs in Athens

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I’m not the biggest dog lover (blame an incident where me and my sister were chased by a vicious dog as kids and she was bitten 😦  )  So at first I was really scared of the stray dogs in Athens. They are everywhere; trotting around the squares and reclining on the pavements.

Monastiraki Square

I wondered how they survived, but I watched the locals feeding them, petting them, greeting them. They are effectively everyone’s pet; affection without any responsibility.Nevetheless, they were docile, harmless and sweet. They tend to fall asleep in inopportune places so you may have to step over them to get out of McDonalds 🙂 I fell a little bit in love with a particular long-haired golden retriever who slept on the pavement in Syntagma square.

The most distinctive thing about Athens was the guards at Parliament – more,specifically the changing of said guards. They have a very distinctive walk. Lets just say if you saw them in the distance, you’d know them from their walk 😉

Guards at Parliament

It was my birthday so we splashed out with an open-top bus tour- we always find this a fabulous way to see all the sights with very little effort; albeit an expensive and lazy one – but hey, we’re on holiday! It was great, and I loved cruising round in the sunshine with the wind in my hair, sun on my face, seeing oranges growing in the trees and historic ruins in every direction.

TortoiseWe were excited to see a tortoise in one location! Just chilling in the wild. I was amazed! But in fact we went on to see 2 more at other historic sites in Athens, so they obviously just live there! One of the tortoises we saw was quite clever – he wanted to go through some railings, but the gap wasn’t wide enough to fit through. So he turned sideways so his shell would fit!!

We read that every time the authorities in Athens dig down to build something, like a new metro station, they find ruins of yet another historic site. So they tend to put the ruins behind glass and make a feature of it – which I thought was brilliant. These ruins were everywhere. (Including the Acropolis – in the next blog!)

We visited the first Olympic stadium, and ruins like the Roman Forum, Hadrian’s Library, the Stoa of Attalos, and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. Some of these had seen the effect of the elements, but with a little imagination we could envisage what they would have been like back in Ancient Greece. What struck me was how many Roman sites there were. I expected that in Italy but not Greece!

Olympic stadiumWe read that every time they dig to build something, like a new metro station, they find ruins of yet another historic site. So they tend to put the ruins behind glass and make a feature of it – which I thought was brilliant.

Food in Athens

The food in Greece was pretty delicious and we ate inexpensively. We basically lived on Greek salad (a generously thick slice of feta cheese, black olives, tomato, lettuce, and peppers) and Gyros (kebab meat with salad wrapped in a thin naan-like bread. The bread we had was freshly made which was wonderful. It was almost like a thin naan bread). Those were my two favourites, and as they were nice and cheap (around 3 Euros) we had A LOT of them! 🙂

We had to try Mousaka also. I would describe this as the greek version of lasagne! However, typical of me and my BF, we had too much of a good thing, and by the final days of the holiday we were craving other types of food. There’s only so many greek salads you can eat 😉  Luckily we found a cheap pasta place which did a surprisingly good pesto, a sushi place, an organic vegetarian restaurant (lovely avocado dip) and at atmospheric restaurant with a varied menu, at which we tried lebanese cheese on a salad, and some yummy quesedillas. So happily there is much international food to be had in Athens, alongside the traditional Greek dishes.

Next post: The Acropolis, Athens, Greece

Previous post: Oia, Santorini, Greece

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