Before we head back to Italy later next month, I figured I should probably finish writing about our trip there, for R&R, in July.  I left off in Santorini, and we had five more stops on our cruise before returning to Rome.  First stop: Athens.

The ship actually docked in Piraeus, Athens' port.  We'd run into this on cruises before, so I'm not sure why I found it so frustrating at the time, but I thought it exceptionally difficult to figure out how to get to the city. Maybe because the taxis were on strike, maybe because it was scorching hot and I was again sweating like a whore in church, but probably because I'm just spoiled and moody; nonetheless, we eventually made it to the train station.

After an hour in the hot, crowded train car, we arrived in what was the epicenter of the austerity riots held a few weeks earlier.  Their toll was astounding: neither Joey nor I could believe how dirty and full of litter and graffiti we found Athens' Parliamentary Square.  But once we left the seat of government and proceeded through the city, past the Byzantine Greek Orthodox cathedrals, the Plakka and its shops toward the Acropolis, we found the rest of Athens to be significantly nicer.

We settled into a cafe where I devoured the fresh tomatoes, kalamata olives and crumbly feta of my Greek salad and more than a few bites of Joey's juicy gyro.  Then we climbed yet another massive hill, only this time there was no poop and the Parthenon waited on top.  Standing next to the ancient temple that stood as witness to thousands of years of history was awe-inspiring, and the view of the city was expansive.  Athens seemed to go on for miles in every direction.

Hundreds of photos later, we clambered down the other side of the Acropolis and around more of the city.  We cooled off in the shade with a plate of baklava before boarding the train back to port.

Click here for all of my photos from Athens.

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