What do you do on a free day in Athens? Sleep in, well not for too long. If you are like us and staying near the Acropolis there are several great places you won’t want to miss that are within walking distance. Take Monastiraki for instance, a great little quarter of Athens located on the Northern side of the Acropolis. This site was named after the Manastiraki Square, which was one of the first metro stations in Athens. Nowadays people come here to see the alleged flea market which has now progressed into more of a touristy area. Here you can find shops galore, quaint cafes, and the well known market, in which you never know what you might ‘meat’. No need to bargain, Monastiraki, has some of the better deals in Athens and you can most likely find whatever your heart desires. Moving directly eastward from Monastiraki, one may find themselves ending up in an area known as Syntagma. Syntagma, is the site of the Old Royal Palace which is known today as the Greek Parliament Building. Guards at the Parliament Building, called Evzones, are specifically chosen for their height and strength, and serve as protectors of the tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Parliament Building itself. They are much like the guards at Buckingham Palace, but these guys wear pleated skirts and shoes with pom-poms, and every so often they do a ritual dance to stretch out their legs from having to stand all day. This has also become a major attraction and people from all over come and view the bizarre march of the guards. Also in this vicinity, one can find upper class shopping areas that are very stylish and chic. This is also one of the busier portions of town because there are a lot of offices located in this area, meaning that there has to be places to eat while you are on the run. Here there is a wide variety of food places, including your traditional Greek restaurants and cafes, and if you are looking for a little slice of
America, you can visit McDonalds or Applebee’s. Moving back to towards the Acropolis, south from Monastiraki and Syntagma, you will find yourself in the Plaka. The Plaka is one of Athens’ most historic sites, and is a great retreat from all the hustle and bustle of the city. You can find most anything here, from souvenir shops to tavernas and restaurants, and if you have a sweet tooth, you can find great chocolates, crepes, and gelato. This is a wonderful place to take a little break, have a cup of coffee, and enjoy the view of the Acropolis. If you are looking for a little venture outside of the surrounding Acropolis area to have some delicious food, and go back in time with a restaurant called Ancient Times located in Metaxourgeio. Here you will get a little taste of what type of foods and eating habits the ancient Greeks had in the days of antiquity. The meal was set at a slower pace and in many portions so one can enjoy and savor the flavor. This was a very satisfying way to end the day. Until tomorrow, Kalinychta!
Laura Risley & Meritha Rucker