We woke late again and had breakfast at the hotel. I think that it helps to have breakfast provided at hotels you stay at in Europe. Food is so expensive. The day before, we booked a massage at a spa called Dr. Fish. I had no idea why they were called that, but we found out! First thing, though, we went to Starbucks and H&M in the same area we’d strolled the night before, just down the street from our hotel. It was so much warmer than Chris was expecting that he wanted to buy some shorts and I just wanted to say I’d had Starbucks in Europe (I had Starbucks in Australia on a trip back in high school, so it’s kind of a thing now). Crazy thing, they didn’t have any shorts! Apparently, it was unseasonably warm so they were only selling winter clothing. Poor Chris!
I made our second stop of the morning to the National Garden of Athens. Why? It is a strange tourist site, it is not the Agora or Zeus’ Temple, but I plan to use this site in my book and I really couldn’t risk us not getting to see as much of it as possible. We ran around the back area taking lots of pictures for a long time. This is another instance where we were able to walk there from our hotel, though it was a longer walk, it was extremely doable. The protests were going on at the Parliament at the time and we walked past it to get to the Garden, but nothing was really going on. I think we caught Athens as most of that craziness was winding down.
The Garden is a very large walled off area towards the center of the city. It is very peaceful and green with very tall trees and it looks very well taken care of. There is even a little zoo in the middle and entrance to the place is free. It was very nice to look around.
We headed to our massage appointment at Dr. Fish’s Spa on the Plaka after our stroll. They call it Dr. Fish because they offer pedicures where fish eat the dead skin off your feet! There are fish tanks at the ends of the chairs, I took pictures, but we only got a couple’s massage. We were feeling all the walking around and wanted to relax. The experience was only ok. The customer service wasn’t so great there and the massage was kind of weak. Besides the taxis, though, this was the only subpar experience I had in Athens.
We went shopping on the Plaka next, which was really nice. I love shopping, but even Chris had fun. There are so many shops on the Plaka, you could probably find anything, and not everything was tourist crap. You can get that sometimes. For example, I would never buy anything on the Las Vegas strip; it is either super high end overpriced nonsense or cheap tourist junk. The Plaka had a little of both, but we ran into some pretty cool stuff too. I bought a beautiful white blouse with blue flowers and Chris got his shorts! At another place, we bought hand carved olivewood kitchen utensils. Everything made in Greece, of course! They were quite adamant about that; they really wanted to make sure we were buying items made in Greece and that we knew it.
I was curious as we passed a carpet shop that advertised free shipping and we stopped in. The place was called The Loom and, long story short, we bought a bunch of carpets. The salesman did a suburb job with us. We were comfortable and learned a lot about Greek carpets and felt like we got a great deal in the end. Chris felt good about the purchase too. We ended up with one large rug, one medium rug, two runners and four very small placemat sized pretty sample pieces for $850, shipping included. They are very thin, short fiber rugs, but soft and really pretty, 50% wool 50% silk. Don’t tell me if we were ripped off. I don’t want to know. We felt good about it and came away with some great souvenirs. They look amazing in the house.
After, we had lunch and a little black kitten came over and joined us for some love. Chris was more than happy to oblige. If we were at home, he would have made us take the kitten with us when we left.
We strolled around the streets for a while after stopping back at the hotel. Took some pictures in the daylight of the rooftop view and walked around the area of Hadrian’s Library. We planned on stopping by the Agora or anywhere else, but it was too late. Those places close very early. We still had so many tickets left and so many sites to see, but we were leaving for Istanbul the next day. We would have to make good use of the following morning.
Our hotel recommended a place for dinner much farther than we’d been so far. This time we took a cab. Now it is time for me to talk about cabs in Athens. They are quite the rip off! Not quite as bad as Istanbul was later on, but they’ll tack Euros onto anything. 2 extra to pick you up at a hotel. 5 extra to the airport from the hotel. 3 tacked on for nothing. It is crazy. If you aren’t careful, you’ll get ripped off big time. 8 Euro on the meter to the restaurant from our hotel, plus 2 Euro for picking us up at the hotel, remember that for later.
The restaurant was right on the water and lovely. We had a table a foot from the water, the waitress could have fallen in we were so close. I can’t remember the name of it, but it was on a little street along the docks with all these sailboats, the street was lined with restaurants overlooking the water. The food was very good, but I still prefer the smaller Plaka restaurants. Chris really liked ouzo, and he doesn’t drink normally, so that was quite something. We took a walk after and then grabbed a cab back.
What I wrote in my travel journal about dinner: “We are literally on the water at this dock with boats parked all over around us. Their masts sticking up and out like toothpicks, they are white but used, fishing boats, nice sailboats, bobbing in an unseen current under the dark moonlit sky. I could have reached out and touched the moonlight on the water. It was very serene and the air smelled clear.”
This cab wanted 20 Euro to go back to the hotel, no meter. This is a trick we didn’t learn till later, make sure the cabbie is on meter. Just say meter, they’ll most likely know what you mean. This one wanted to charge a flat rate, which is always TONS more. He didn’t know where our hotel was either and ended up dropping us off at the Metropolis square. It was crazy; we shouldn’t have stuck with that cabbie. This experience could explain Chris’ aversion to cabs the rest of the trip.
All in all though, it was a wonderful day.