It was certainly a whistlestop visit to Athens. We’d be there for 36 hours and hoped to see everything; unfortunately, the heat and Greek opening hours forced us to hit the high spots. After a late start (the breakfast at our hotel was just too incredible to rush), we visited the Acropolis where we marvelled at all that white marble and acquired serious tans.
When we crawled back down off the rock, it was off to search for some lunch and we picked Diogenes out of one of our guidebooks. We dined in gorgeous settings, sitting on their shaded terrace overlooking the Lantern of Diogenes.
Aubergines Diogenes were baked aubergine halves bathed in tomato sauce and topped with feta. I’d never thought of baking feta before and I loved its salty tang on top of the rich mixture.
We couldn’t handle another big chunk of feta by this point in the trip and so settled for a much simpler, but no less generous in size, salad.
Looking for something relatively light as a main, I turned to one of the day’s specials of stuffed courgettes with a lemon sauce, the lemon sauce being avgolemono. The hollowed squashes were stuffed with herbed rice and meat and the gentle lemon sauce was delicious on top.
My friend had been dying to try moussaka in Greece and the version at Diogenes did not disappoint. I’ll admit that it didn’t look like much but it was delicious.
Sure, it was a bit touristy but the food was very good. I think lunch ended up costing about €20 a head.
As I mentioned previously, suddenly we realised that all the other archaeological sites we’d hoped to visit were closed, having shut their gates at about 2pm. That afternoon passed in a bit of a blur and I vaguely recall visiting a cafe for coffee and then falling asleep on their roof terrace. Oops.
We did manage to wake up and walk over to Syntagma Square and then across to the Greek Parliament where we watched the guards.
Further on, we also came across an adorable deli in Kolonaki – Degustation – run by a very kind Greek-Australian who told us not to worry about the groups of waiting riot police in the area. That’s what happens when you’re hanging around the Greek Parliament at night.
It was pretty late in the evening when we finally sat down outside the Mezedopoleio Filema for dinner. As you can probably guess from its name, it serves meze and only meze and that was just what we needed. I didn’t expect the meze portions to be so huge though! Fava was a dip of mashed yellow split peas scattered with chopped onions and drizzled with olive oil. I adore lentils so this simple dip was right up my alley.
Tomato balls were humongous fried tomato fritters, all crisp yet juicy – I never would have thought to make tomato fritters.
Filema Meatballs were huge fried juicy meatballs served with yoghurt and a tomato salsa. Each meatball was almost as big as my fist.
The fried cod was the only semi-dud – I think we had been expecting fresh cod but I think we ended up with what was originally salted. The skordalia, a garlicky potato mash, was utterly scrumptious but do make sure everyone eats some before you end up the only stinker.
The place is a total bargain – the bill was under €30 for all this food and a large bottle of water and it could easily have fed 4 people.
The next morning, it was time to take in the new Acropolis Museum – everyone who heard we were heading to Athens was raving about it and insisted that we go. And so we did. And it was magnificent. And you should definitely visit it if you’re in Athens. (To keep it a surprise, I’d refrain from looking at my Flickr photos.)
Try to leave some time to have a coffee at their cafe – choose a seat on their terrace and you’ll be rewarded with a splendid view of the Acropolis.
We just had enough time to squeeze in a quick lunch before heading to the airport for our flight home. We met up with colleagues at Monastiraki Square where all the famous souvlaki restaurants are and the one our Athenian colleague brought us to was Savvas. Beef souvlaki sandwiches all around (under €3 each) and plenty of tzatziki on the side to dollop over it.
Greedy me couldn’t resist ordering a side of fried aubergine as well. Big chunks of soft fried aubergine were covered in yoghurt and tomato sauce and were incredibly delicious.
Shame we didn’t have the stomach space to try all the other souvlaki places along the street!
There’s lots of good eating to be had in Greece, even in Athens. I do hope to return to see the rest of the temples, hills and markets I missed. A warning though – you might end up being dinner yourself. I was eaten alive by mosquitoes – use lots of insect repellent!
All my photos from Greece can be found in this Flickr photoset.