Exploring Athens

I just returned from a three-week vacation, which began in Greece and ended in England.

Along the way, we stopped in Italy, France, and Spain — countries to which Nick and I have been, but we stopped in many towns and islands that were new to me: Taormina in Sicily, Oia and Fira in Santorini, and Positano on the Amalfi Coast among them. These were all new places for my parents (our companions for the entire journey!), so it was nice to introduce them to bits of Europe.

We spent the first part of the trip on an Azamara cruise that sailed across the Mediterranean. I’m not a cruiser, though I’ve been on two in the past, and while I can see why a certain cross-section of people love it, this kind of traveling isn’t really for me. But when we brainstormed the easiest ways logistically for my parents to sample a number of different spots in this part of Europe, a cruise seemed like a good option — versus stringing together different city itineraries connected by short flights. This way, the daily planning and touring was mostly out of my hands.

All that said, I’d thought the cruise would be relaxing, and I was completely wrong. Unless you’re sailing at sea all the time, or choose not to disembark the ship and explore offshore, your routine on a cruise is very go-go-go — a new country or city each day, and a different excursion or on-foot itinerary that starts early in the morning. So, we were pretty exhausted each evening.

In all, it was a very active 21 days . . . we saw and did a lot, and I’ll slowly sift through my photos and share some highlights here. To start, here are a few snapshots from our first few days. I’d never been to Greece, and our brief time exploring the Plaka area of Athens was a nice introduction to the city — and our trip.

View of Athens and the Acropolis from the Electra Palace rooftop.
One of the houses on a quiet street near the Plaka neighborhood, in the shadow of the Acropolis.
A sign directing people to the Acropolis.
The Parthenon (plus scaffolding).
The Odeon of Herodes Atticus theater, located on the southwest slope of the Acropolis.
Atop the Acropolis.
Temple and sky.
Coffee and delicious baklava at Yiasemi, a cafe in the Plaka.
Steps leading somewhere . . . in the Plaka district.
A pretty facade on Adrianou Street, one of the main pedestrian streets of the Plaka.
Our first (and only) dinner in Athens: mezes madness at To Kafeneio, a traditional mezedopoleio.
A colorful wall.

All photos taken with an iPhone 7 — a few posted originally on Instagram. Follow me @cherilucasrowlands.

Published by Cheri Lucas Rowlands

I am an editor at Longreads. For over a decade, I've worked on curation, editing, and storytelling projects across Automattic, including WordPress.com.

28 thoughts on “Exploring Athens

  1. Oh my word! I’ve always wanted to travel across Europe. Greece, Italy, England, and France are on my MUST SEE list. These pictures are beautiful and are making my hunger to see these landmarks grow

  2. Oh your photos are so gorgeous that I felt in Athens! The beginning of your post hints to days in France too. Now I’m curious 🙂 Will you write about this stay too? With photos? I’d love to read about your impressions. No pressure, of course. Meanwhile I will admire your Greek photos. Splendid.

    1. Over the next month or so, I plan to post sets of photos of each place we visited, in the order of our itinerary 🙂 We stopped in St. Tropez for only half a day (does that count?!) and I have just a handful of pictures from that afternoon. I’ll share them sometime in the next few weeks. ‘Twas a flying visit, but it did make me remember and miss my time on the coast (I lived in Cannes for a semester, in 2000).

      More pics to come!

  3. Wow, Cheri, these are amazing photos! I’ve been to Greece as well as the Amalfi coast. So gorgeous. Very glad that you went (even if the cruise was a bit go go go!)
    Have a wonder re-integration back home. Blessings, Debbie

    1. Thanks! I wasn’t sure what to expect in Athens—the area we wandered was quite lovely, so I’d consider returning. I wish we’d had more time on the Amalfi Coast—a place I’d visit again.

    1. Thanks, Alison—it was a surprisingly quiet residential street, really not far from the busy pedestrian avenue in the Plaka. It felt a bit weird roaming around so close to people’s homes (reminded me a bit of wandering up the narrow alleys of Granada’s Albayzin), but if you’re living in the shadow of the Acropolis I suppose the foot traffic is expected!

    1. I knew very little about Athens before this trip (and I still know very little!). I was only there a few days, though the Plaka area seems like a great place to orient yourself, with lots of shops, cafes, and restaurants, and major sites (Acropolis, Acropolis Museum, etc.). Though I can’t speak for any other parts of the city.

  4. Great photos even with the scaffolding the Parthenon looks great! Thanks for the tips on cruising. My wife and I have been debating that sort of thing (river cruise) for Northern Europe. But as of now we’re still favoring trains. Great post. Thanks for sharing.

    1. At one point in our planning, we considered a river cruise in Portugal—I liked that idea because I’ve wanted to return to Lisbon and visit Porto and other cities. And a smaller boat and more focused itinerary covering less ground would have been different that the Mediterranean cruise we did. But it didn’t make sense with my parents, who wanted more of a broader tour of Western Europe and the Med.

      Ultimately, if I had to choose between a boat or a train, I choose a train. I often get seasick on boats and ships (thankfully nothing severe this time around). I’ve also always enjoyed staring out the windows on trains — a fun way to travel.

  5. Yes, I feel the same about cruises even though I hear all of these great things about them. I love the steps photo. It left me inspired. There’s nothing like exploring side roads in a country that’s new to you.

  6. Great shots Cheri! I haven’t been to Greece yet, but hope to tour it in the future. I will be in Spain later in the year with my sister. We had thought about taking a cruise, but discarded that idea for the very reason that you mentioned. Different port and tour every day. I’m looking forward to more photos from your excursions.

    1. Your upcoming trip to Spain sounds exciting. The cruise ended in Barcelona, so we spent several days there. I’d been there twice, though the city felt just as new and magnificent as ever. Enjoy your time in Spain, wherever you go!

  7. Merci, Cheri Lucas, de nous permettre de vous voyager à travers notre commune belle Terre, grâce à vos photos-reportages. C’est magnifique.
    Bon courage et bonne continuation.

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