Temple of Apollo as seen from the Acropolis
Maya learned about Greece this year in school. So on our home trip, we decided to go Greece . On the way stopped by Heidelberg to see Jason and his family and then went to Greece. We had told our travel agent in India that we would like to see the Parthenon and go to an island that was not very touristy. So we went to Athens and she suggested we go to Tinos island.
Tinos, a small island in the Aegean sea was just perfect. We highly recommend it. It is just beautiful, blue and white like the colors of the Greek flag. There are hardly any people on the islands. When we were wandering around in the afternoon, there was not a soul around. Must have been siesta time. We met some wonderful people in Tinos and often remember their hospitality. They invited us to their beautiful home for a cup of coffee and took us to dinner the next day. We are looking forward to their visit to India next year. Of all the beautiful things in Tinos, this is what we will most remember.
Greeks are very warm and hospitable people. They love kids. Maya
Ancient Greek graffiti
got attention where ever we went. Maya is Greek for Mary so Maya's name was almost native. Greeks love to talk with their hands. We would love to go back.
• As we were entering Athens we had 3 laptops with us and the lady at the airport in Greece says to us: "You're going on vacation? Don't think so".
• We encountered the "Jai Ho" mania in Greece too. We were eating at a restaurant one afternoon and the local radio station started playing "Jai Ho". We are all "slumdog millionaires" now.
• Credit cards are not accepted in most places, especially in the Islands. So we needed cash. We have had issues with our bank in India sometimes, but it really came through for us in Greece. Sunjay lost his wallet and our bank card had expired. We had no easy way to get cash. We went to the local branch of the bank and within a few minutes we were set. We came out of the bank and heard a group singing "If I were a rich man". Bob T and Bill H will know the significance of that song to Sunjay. It brought back good memories. I think
Likavitos hill as seen from the Acropolis
Sunjay left them a good tip.
• National Archeological Museum
We take too many things for granted in the US - our museums and national park system. The National Archeological museum in Greece is an awesome museum and is rated as one of the top 10 museums in the world. There are so many relics that are 2500 years old or older. We went to buy the tickets and asked for a map of the museum, and the lady at the counter with an annoying smirk on her face tells us that they were out of maps. We asked for a tour guide, but they were all busy. we asked for an audio guide they were out of that too. Not knowing where we were and how much we had left to cover, we spent too much time looking lost and had to rush through a good portion of the museum. We noticed very few children here and soon realized why. Let us just say Maya was quite familiar with the anatomy of human body at the end of the visit.
• Mt Levikitos
We went up Mt Levikitos to see this beautiful Greek orthodox church. We had a very nice driver on
Bangladeshi street vendor in Plaka
the way up. We didn't see many people taking taxis going down. There were taxis standing around waiting for customers. So when we were ready to leave, we tried to engage a taxi, but couldn't since nobody wanted to come down. We still don't understand why. Sunjay was upset and must have yelled all the way to the bottom. It was a nice walk back down though.
• Ouzo is a strong Greek distilled liquor made from grapes. Sunjay had some in Kolonikos.
• There are plenty of stray dogs in Greece, especially in Athens. They all looked well fed when compared to the stray dogs in India. They had a collar and locals would randomly start petting them.
• There are plenty of Bangladeshis in Athens. We befriended one such Bangladeshi that was selling a flubbery ball of some kind. They sell all kind of trinkets in the Palka area.
• I was surprised by the number of smokers in Athens. We were eating lunch one afternoon and a mother-daughter pair that were eating at an adjoining table must have been trying to kill each other. One lit up and when she was done, the other would light up. Smoking laws are
Diners in Plaka
not quite enforced anywhere and if you have a problem with this (Ashtma, allergies etc), better go prepared.
• We had a little bit of trouble with the language. Some of the signs were only in Greek and not everyone spoke English, especially in Tinos. We were trying to find a restaurant that Frommer's had recommended in the Plaka area in Athens. Damigos in the Plaka- I highly recommend. We went to another restaurant where a man was trying to lure customers, asked him where Damigos was. When he pointed it out to us, I was "smart" enough to ask him how it was and he said "I don't know. I don't go there. You go there", which we did. It was a small restaurant that was not very crowded like the other restaurants in the Plaka area since it didn't have outdoor seating. It was run by a husband and wife, food was very good and we ate the sweetest tomatoes we have ever eaten. Later, we went to the aforementioned restaurant with the ornery matre 'd the next day which was good as well.
• I came back from Greece loving the food. The fruits and vegetables are so
The Acropolis at night as seen from our hotel
fresh. Greek salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, capers, sweet red onions all topped with feta is a must with every meal. I am trying to be vegetarian, but I just couldn't resist the lamb dishes in Greece. Greeks know how to cook lamb - juicy and succulent. Maya ate so many gelato's while she was there, that she didn't want to eat ice cream in the US (this lasted a day or 2 only). I am looking for quick ways to fatten her up now:). Not pediatrician approved really.
• We had somewhat of an adventure in Greece with Sunjay "losing" his wallet. We were supposed to drive to Olympia the next day. But without Sunjay's license and the possibility of getting an automatic car being remote (I can't drive a stick shift), we decided to give it a pass and stay back in Athens one extra day. We decided to take the metro to go see the Hellenic Cosmos museum for kids recommended by Frommer's. It is a very good museum, but hard to find. Its not in the best part of town. On the way, I witnessed a group of pick pocketers in action. But the visit to
Hotel Herodion where we stayed
the Hellenic museum made it all worthwhile. The virtual reality shows made me dizzy though. It was an eventful day to say the least. Coming back to the wallet, we were convinced it was stolen since someone kept opening our hotel room door while we were inside. But we found it much later hidden in one of our pockets.
• One thing I couldn't do in Greece was bring back books (not that I have room for any - my Con-way friends will understand). I couldn't find bookstores with English books I wanted to bring back. When Frommer's mentioned bookstores that carry English books, I understood why.
• Our travel agent had arranged for all transfers to and from the airport and boat rides. We got to know our driver on our last trip with him when going back to the airport after the trip. He was well read and knew a lot about the world. His wife Rosie was a travel agent and he had traveled with her on many occasions and had been to Goa in India. I will try to quote what he said to us as best as I can remember, but it was really good to hear
Bronze statue excavated from the sea
it from the source "I had a heart attack once while driving some passengers. It was when we were building our house in Germany. The French family that he was driving called an ambulance. I said to God in the ambulance, if I die now, I am going to come and kill you. I guess God did want to be killed so I was allowed to live. I had a wonderful wife, Rosie. We finished constructing our house in Germany. We have finished constructing our house in Athens as well. I was ready to retire, but my Rosie died. I have 3 houses, but no Rosie to enjoy it with. ". He really meant what he said. In the airport, we didn't have change to get the trolley for our suitcases. He gave us the money for it and never accepted a tip. People like this make my life more wholesome.
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