Greece, better know to the Greeks themselves as Hellas or Ellada (Greek: Ελλάς, Ελλάδα). Here we start our journey in Athens, named for Athena the patron Goddess of this ancient city, with a history that dates back to a first settlement of situated on the rock of the Acropolis in 3000 BC. The ancient ruins however largely date back only as far as the 4th century BC due to the ravages of time, earthquakes, military conquests, and the vandalism of early Christians.
So stepping off the plane into 48 degree heat (that’s X for those primitive Americans out there) was a bit of a shock as I’d been chipping ice off my windscreen the morning I left home. Thankfully the hotel was air-conditioned or the trip may have ended right there.
The streets of Athens are an interesting juxtaposition of the old and the new, modern roads, internet cables overhead, and in the distance the Acropolis or Hadrian’s Arch peaking out from behind some trees.
Of course one of the first things you’ve got to do when stepping into a new city is try the food. The very first of course, and as soon as possible after 42 hours in transit, is get in a shower. So two of our first stops were the Fruit Market where we would get the nicest fruit we would find all trip, and the Meat & Fish Market where a spruker almost ended the trip early by giving the mum-in-law a heart-attack. Sadly no photos of that moment.
So the first meal of the trip was, in fine Greek tradition, souvlaki. Now having grown up in Sydney in an area with a large Greek population souvlaki was no stranger to me, I was however travelling with the two fussiest eaters on the planet so after many suggestions and rejections I ordered them meat-on-a-stick and gave them its name later. Thankfully the waitress could speak English, as my brief childhood exposure to Greek had in no way prepared me to speak the lingo.