So here goes nothin. And I'll warn you, it's a long one. So cuddle up for a good read :)
First off, let me state that this was NOT your average vacation. I fully admit that it was ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE and THE BEST VACATION OF MY LIFE. With that said, jealousy will ensue.
Delta had a special when you transferred your AMEX points to Delta points, you got a 20% bonus. Which means we used the same amount of points and got 1 first class ticket which Lex, Patrick and I shared. Lex: SFO->Atlanta, Sarah: Atlanta->Athens, Patrick: Athens->Atlanta, Lex: Atlanta->SFO
Apparently I was the only one who enjoyed it enough to take pics. Also, I was the only one who had a crazy drunk man sitting next to me chatting me up and rubbing my arm to find my "veins". CREEPY.
After arriving at the Hotel Grande Bretagne in Athens and jumping up and down when we walked into our SUITEthe first order of busines was to explore the Plaka and get a Gyro.
Tip#1: Let me say, this was not your average U.S. Gyro. First off, they are not lamb (HALLELUJAH) they are beef, pork or chicken, 2nd the Pita bread itself is SOO much more delicious. And most importantly, THEY PUT FRENCH FRIES IN YOUR SANDWICH. Can I just tell you how great that is? Because it truly is great.
It was really hard for us to stay awake until my parents and "the boys" (aka Robert and Tom, Robert's mission companion/BFF) showed up at the hotel and we might have taken an itsy bitsy nap even though it's totally against the rules of anti-jetlag.
Once they got there we went to Milo's Restaurant, which is supposed to be one of the best in Athens. Top Rated. I did my research.
Tip #2: Fancy, ridiculously overpriced restaurants in Greece are not worth it and aren't very good. Fancy, expensive Greek restaurants in SF, however, absolutely are (Kokkari!). Homestyle and street food are way better. But it was fun to catch up and we all enjoyed ourselvesOur first full day in Athens we met up with Dennis--son of "the best taxi driver in all of Greece" or so their website says. Basically, Dennis was a suave, Jeff Sheets look-alike limousine driver who took us all around Delphi and Athens. I'm not a huge fan of 80 person tour groups, especially on 6 hour RT drives to see ruins so after lots of research on TripAdvisor, I decided to go with Dennis (who was actually cheaper for the 7 of us than using a tour group). I, personally, loved him (And the boys will tell you he loved me, but whatev). And I really liked having an advocate while we navigated a country whose language is completeley indecipherable to Westerners. Looking back, it would have been nice to have a tour guide at each of the sites and I probably should have booked one for a better learning opportunity, but it was also pretty nice to just wander at our own pace and have some fun.
Delphi was spectacular. I've said this several times since we've been back but it's just SO INCREDIBLE to have seen these structures that we've learned about our whole lives. That we've read about, read books that reference and that began civilization as we know it. Just blew my mind.
Not to mention, I got to touch "the center of the universe" which was pretty cool.
After our tour of Delphi and the Delphi Archeological Museum (where you are NOT allowed to take pictures with statues in fear of angering the Gods) Dennis took us to the best meal we had our entire trip. I wish I had known then that it would be the best meal of the trip because I would have paid closer attention. Greek Salad
Which reminds me, I haven't talked at all about the weather. If you ask me, it was borderline perfect. Just barely too hot, but there was also a great breeze so I was happy. Too hot for Mom so that's why you don't see her in the pics. We sure missed her though!Hydrating before the hike to the top
After watching the weekly changing of the guard parade directly across from our incredible hotel (led by the neighborhood dogs) Ridiculous uniforms, no?we drove up to the Acropolis to see the Parthenon. Let me tell you, Delphi was cool, but this stole the show for me. I could not get enough! One of the most famous archeological sites in the history of the world, and there I am. Just hanging out at Athena's Temple like it's no big deal. Not to mention how it's right in the middle of a thriving metropolitan city.
We also got to climb Mars Hill which is where the Apostle Paul delivered his famous sermon. It was pure marble (so a bit slippery). We read Acts 17 aloud from Tom's iPhone and were joined by fellow tourists while reading which was pretty cool.
After our tour, Dennis took us to a very authentic Greek restaurant for lunch--where he says he goes when he wants some "momma cooking" and doesn't have time to go home. It was fun to try some truly authentic dishes and of course, have watermelon for dessert (everywhere we went there was tons and it was soo delicious).
Our tour of Athens ended at the Ferry terminal as we boarded our "superfast ferry" to Crete. I'll also stop this post there and try to break things up a little for all those of you who hate reading and only like pictures.
Love love. Off to shop and see Harry Potter! Opa!