Plaka is the historic park of Athens. Its cute. It’s filled with many shops, restaurants, monuments, marble streets and pedestrian-only walkways. This is where you will find many of the souvenir shops.
I frequented this area pretty much everyday since my hostel was located a block or two away from here. I attempted to try as many Greek restaurants as possible. I wanted to taste what authentic Greek food is, not Americans version of Greek food.
I was amazed by the hospitality of the Greeks. They were all friendly and warm-hearted. I’m sure there are also rude people but I didn’t encounter any of them, which is nice when you’re away on vacation, right?
There was a very funny greeter at one of the restaurants I tried. A Greek man who knew many languages. He attempted at guessing everyone’s nationality and switched to that language and tried to tempt you inside… When he saw me he was a tad confused and then asked me in Spanish if I wanted to eat lunch. I said yes and he took me to a table. From here I watched and laughed at his attempts. Sometimes he got it wrong. Sometimes he made a fool of himself but it was all in the spirit of “business” and fun. An Italian couple walked by and he switched to Italian. The only Italian words he knew. A Spanish tour group walked by and began singing in Spanish. It was so entertaining. An indian couple walked by, and since he didn’t know any Hindi he said “Namaste” over and over. I laughed and the indian couple responded by telling him they weren’t from India.
The entire thing was so funny. I’m sure it would have been considered offensive or even racist in the United States… but I was having a blast.
The next day I had lunch at a nearby Cafe. The greek food was delicious. Like an American I hurried to eat and pay. I asked for the check immediately. The owner came out and slowed me down. He said I had eaten too fast and my food needed to settle. So he gave me a few on-the-house desserts. A few grapes and orange slices. Then he gives me a free shot of alcohol from a liquor bottle that’s label-less! It was strong! I felt trapped. My American spirit of hurry up and rush was starting to feel uncomfortable just sitting there. After I let it all go, it was a great experience. I sat and waited a bit, then paid. It was a fun lunch and the owner was very nice.
I later bought souvenirs for everyone. I got a t-shirt for my mother and sister. I bought Pans penis that doubled as a bottle opener for a friend and Greek playing cards that displayed 52 different Ancient Greek sexual positions.
Plaka is beautiful. You know you’re in Athens when your start walking down these streets.
As you continue walking down the streets of Plaka, the streets begin to slop upwards. It all leads to the Acropolis and the Pantheon theater. However, its worth getting lost and weaving your way in and out of these small streets just to look around.
I got to warn you though, the heat was unbearable. I had no idea Athens got this humid.