12 Jun2008

plaka3

The Plaka district sits in the shadow of the Acropolis. A quaint area that is built amongst and above ancient ruins, it is now the most touristy of locations, with hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops lining the narrow and often cobblestoned streets. For first time visitors to Athens, this is one of the best neighborhoods to stay in because all of the major historical sites are relatively close by. However, finding a good hotel room at a reasonable price is like searching for a needle in a haystack!

plaka1

Some of the narrow streets or lanes are reserved for pedestrians only, so walking around the area can be extremely pleasant. With temperatures in the low 80’s and humidity much less than in Manila, we stayed out for a couple of hours trying to orient ourselves and catch some sunlight, which is reportedly good for speeding one’s recovery from jetlag…

plaka5

It seemed almost every turn brought a new discovery, and cheesy t-shirt shops gave way to ruins of buildings that were 2-3,000 years old! The span of history in one small area was simply mind-boggling. It’s really quite hard to comprehend that real markets, real gathering halls, real bathhouses, were all once situated here and folks were using them so so long ago. Building in this area must be a nightmare, as digging up foundations must frequently result in some archeological find, and requires government clearance to continue with the construction project. Just a stone’s throw from our hotel, they unearthed a very-well preserved public bath with rooms/chambers, pottery for water, etc. while digging for a new subway before the olympics and they had to change the subway’s plans so that they could preserve the baths…

plaka2

But such weighty history changes gears around another bend as you pass by one of hundreds of streetside cafes where you can sit and enjoy an overpriced softdrink or uniquely Greek (Nescafe) frappe. It is an iced coffee made from nescafe/instant coffee with milk and sugar. Many of these cafes and restaurants have “salesmen” that beckon to you rather aggressively… though I have to admit that if the weather is fine, an hour spent at one of these places just watching the world go by could be very pleasant indeed.

plaka6

From so many vantage points in the Plaka, you come across these magnificent glimpses of the Acropolis, standing imposing on the rock or small hill nearby. This landmark is an easy navigational aide, so you know which general direction to walk to get back to your hotel. The roads meander and are quite confusing at first, but after an afternoon or so wandering about, you should get a good feel for the neighborhood.

plaka4

And if you are a shopper, there are millions of different trinkets, doodads, sandals, shirts, evil eyes, postcards, etc. just waiting to be purchased and brought to distant cities in someone’s checked-in baggage. After a couple of hours wandering, we were getting punchy from jetlag, so we grabbed a quick sandwich, made our way home and passed out for a good 10-12 hours of deep sleep. The Athens sightseeing agenda was to commence in earnest the following morning…

 

COMMENTS:

  1. joey says:

    Ok. I am going to die from missing-Greece. I just know it.

    Jun 12, 2008 | 5:23 pm

     
  2. Bubut says:

    thanks for sharing the photos…

    Jun 12, 2008 | 5:55 pm

     
  3. Roberto Vicencio says:

    By the way, were you there during the earthwuake?

    Jun 12, 2008 | 5:57 pm

     
  4. Jerome says:

    Hi MM,

    I was watching your site for quiet sometime. It was educating and fun. For a person like me – who never enjoyed the good life that you are enjoying was great – to feel how it like to be there and imagine the places that you’d been. Please keep on going for us to enjoy and feel it virtually.
    I wish that there will be more educated people like you who can show us the better world.

    More power to you mate!

    Jerome

    Jun 12, 2008 | 7:30 pm

     
  5. Marketman says:

    Jerome, keep your ambitions and aspirations high and work towards them… one day, perhaps you too can do some traveling locally and around the globe. Travel is one of most enlightening activities one can experience and I very much realize it is a luxury in today’s difficult times, but such food for the soul. Thanks for your comment, I hope you enjoy the upcoming posts! :) Roberto, yes, we were, but we didn’t feel the earthquake where we were. Bubut, more to come. Joey, the YOGHURT was to DIE FOR. If I could have brought back a maleta full I would have. The yoghurt was simply the BEST I have EVER eaten. EVER.

    Jun 12, 2008 | 8:17 pm

     
  6. Rebecca says:

    Marketman- greek yogurt is sold under a brand called Fage in NY, i wonder if it is available in Manila?

    Thanks for sharing your trip with us. :)

    Jun 12, 2008 | 8:35 pm

     
  7. Marketman says:

    Rebecca, they have Australian made Greek Yoghurt in some stores in Manila. It’s pretty good, but not as good as the yoghurt in Greece. :)

    Jun 12, 2008 | 8:53 pm

     
  8. joey says:

    Isn’t it??? The best ever! Doesn’t it just redefine all that yogurt can be??? But guess what, you can buy a Greek brand (Fage) in HK…not too far from us :)

    Jun 12, 2008 | 9:24 pm

     
  9. Marketman says:

    Joey, where in HK, City Super? 360? Oliver’s? I must know this! :)

    Jun 12, 2008 | 10:04 pm

     
  10. quiapo says:

    You must try to make your own yoghurt, it is really easy and you can tailor the results to suit your preference. You need a starter culture – the Greek brand “Attiki” from Australia is what I use. After warming the milk to the point that it is starting to bubble, a dollop of yoghurt is added. Using milk powder I can alter the consistency and texture, instead of using liquid milk (also cheaper). You can then use a hay box to keep the container warm – I just wrap it in old newspapers, and it done the next morning. I have thought of experimenting with my slow cooker.
    You can also make cheese in a similar manner, by using buttermilk as the starter (about one half by volume), then placing the solids in a cheese cloth to drain in the refrigerator in a colander in a large bowl.
    The culture for the yoghurt can only be used a few times, as it loses its potency, and after abour 4 uses, you need a new starter culture.
    I often use yoghurt to marinate barbeque lamb and chicken, and hence require large quantities of it at times.

    Jun 13, 2008 | 3:39 am

     
  11. natie says:

    yes,MM–food for the soul indeed. i could stand and stare at those relics for a long time..the beginning of civilization! temples done without equipments we have now would surely boggle the mind…

    the slippers caught my eye, too…

    Jun 13, 2008 | 7:54 am

     
  12. AleXena says:

    Good morning MarketMan! I just knew you would give in to our request to do posts of your trip to Greece. That country is one of my dream destination in the world, after I have visited every land area possible in the Philippines.:)

    Did you go to that place overlooking the Aegean Sea? It’s like a mountain ridge or something where the houses are almost all in white and blue. I hope you can post pictures if ever you did go there.

    Thanks for feeding my soul on a bleak day like this! Your blog never fails me.:)

    Jun 13, 2008 | 8:24 am

     
  13. shalimar says:

    I pay over $ 3 for Greek yoghurt here in the States but this is the closest I can of home…
    these are the streets I spend my Sundays rambling about… “am home” with this post…

    Jun 13, 2008 | 9:33 am

     
  14. bagito says:

    I love FAGE brand greek yoghurt. So good, almost like ice cream. But make sure you get the full-fat version, not the low-fat. The low-fat’s puwede na rin pero the full-fat version that comes w/ a side of honey is oh-so-good (not to mention very convenient)! Yummy!!!!!

    Jun 13, 2008 | 12:18 pm

     
  15. chinachix says:

    your post has just pushed Greece up higher on my places to go list…can’t believe I missed the Acropolis on your earlier post hahaha…

    Jun 13, 2008 | 9:45 pm

     
  16. emsy says:

    I have a friend who is pretty new to Greece (working as a nurse, left about a couple weeks ago) who said that the Greeks have a unique way to tell your fortune, which is by reading the coffee grounds left under your cup. She said that Greeks drink unfiltered coffee daw so the grounds are left on the bottom.

    Jan 8, 2010 | 8:33 am

     
 

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