Saturday, January 1, 2011

Christmas Eve in Greece

We got up on Christmas Eve morning ready to start our adventure.  We hadn't a chance to go to the grocery store so we all got dressed and decided to find someplace to eat breakfast.  We headed towards the metro station and found a much better way to get there (rather than the way we walked to find the apartment).  As we were walking we noticed some little girls with triangles (musical instrument) walking around.  At first I thought they must be headed to a little concert or something, but as we walked, we saw more and more kids with the same thing.  They would walk into a store and sing a Christmas carol and then the listener would give them a coin.  We soon found out that this is a tradition in Greece - here's a link with some more information.

We would see children doing the same thing everywhere throughout the city that day - even walking through the metro.  It almost seemed like trick-or-treating in the United States.

So...back to breakfast...there were tons of bakeries with pastries that looked so delicious and tempting but the kids wanted something more and then we found a McDonalds.  Yes, even in Greece, my kids want to eat at McDonalds.  So we walked in to find that this particular place didn't serve breakfast - it was about 10:30 so we decided to stay and have lunch for breakfast.  Thankfully, one of the people working spoke English - and we would find over the course of the trip that a lot of people knew English - which was very nice for us!  The "toy" in the Happy Meal was a cup with an orange juicer on the top.  We thought that this was a little odd but we would soon find how many orange trees are in Athens - they are everywhere!  You'll probably see the cups in some of the pictures - all 3 of the triplets carried their cup the whole day and did not lose it - what a feat!

So after breakfast, we hopped on the metro to go to the Acropolis.  About 5 stops and one train change later, we arrived at the Akropoli station.  Even the metro stations had artifacts in them - a lot of them were found when they were digging for the train lines.

Lizzie soon realized that a lot of the statues were not 
clothed appropriately and didn't hesitate to point it
 out at first.

Outside the Akropoli metro station - a very pretty street!

We entered the Acropolis on the south side which wasn't the "main" entrance so we walked up the back slope which was pretty interesting.  We didn't have a tour guide and we found that the historic sites are not really well marked - not a lot to read or information to gather at the site itself.  But we enjoyed looking at the beautiful buildings and the view from the top.  We met a woman from Canada and talked to her for a while and exchanged picture taking which was nice so that we could get a picture of the entire family together. 


Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthereus - I believe that the seating
has been restored but the walls at the front are original.

The view from this vantage was truly extrodinary!

Almost at the top!

The Parthenon - I think this is one of our favorite
pictures from the trip.

The Old Temple of Athena

Sanctuary of Zeus Polieus

Lykavittos Hill - the highest hill in Athens

The next few pictures are just some pictures of the kids that I really liked.

When we were done touring the Acropolis, we headed downhill.  We weren't quite sure of the way to get back so we just started walking around the hill.  We ended up walking along the north side of the Acropolis on these little tiny streets.  We thought we were lost a little but after a while and quite a few "should we take this street?", we ended up in Plaka which is the "touristy" area of Athens with lots of little shops and restaurants.  We headed downhill and found this little family restaurant and decided to eat lunch.  It was a nice little open-aired restaurant.  The meal was served family style - the owner brought out a tray full of selections and you picked a certain number of items based on the number of people in your party.  We had stuffed grape leaves, cheese puffs, meatballs, moussaka, and many other items.  It was a wonderful lunch but my kids did say that the meatballs weren't as good as Grandma's.

A view outside the restaurant.

After our late lunch, we walked through Plaka a little and then found the metro station at Syntagma Square (Constitution Square).  Syntagma Square was busy with lots of people - there were characters for the kids to see, Santa was there, many people selling things including lottery tickets and all sorts of different pastries and donuts.  It was a very loud and interesting place to be.  We got on the train, to our station and back to the apartment. 

Spencer and Alex wanted to stay at the apartment (yes, mom, we locked the door and they had a cell phone to reach us) and walked up to the local supermarket to pick up some food for the next day.  We found lots of items that we knew and then some we didn't.  We had a hard time figuring out which carton contained milk and then when we got home, we realized that one side had Greek and the other English - duh!  We looked high and low for bacon but didn't find anything that was like American bacon.  I took one last look by the butcher where they had full pigs for sale to roast.  I did not buy one :-) 

We had also bought a Nintendo DS charger because we only had ones that used 120V and Greece uses 220V electricity - we did not have a transformer to use.  I had gotten the kids games for Christmas and we knew that it wouldn't be good if they couldn't use them.  When we got back to the apartment, we realized they were for Nintendo DSi (not DS) and it didn't fit - why do they continuously need to change things like that?  So Mark and Alex headed back to the store to see if they could find anything else and the rest of the kids and I headed to the bakery to get treats for Christmas morning. 

We found this charming little bakery where we bought a box full of treats and a few other things for the morning!  No one spoke English here and so it was difficult at first until another customer helped us out a little.  I bought some baklava which was just so good I can't even describe it!  The kids got some cookies and we got a few croissants for the morning too.  Then we spotted a little fruit market nearby where be bought 3 oranges for about 40 cents.  After my "no speak Greek" to them, they patted the girls heads and wished us Happy New Year. 

It was a wonderful first day in Greece - we were pretty much exhausted and headed home to bed looking forward to Christmas morning.

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