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Athens Reflections Museums and Mexican (and Greek) Food

I am in Athens right now and as many of you know I have been 4 months in Europe and am at the end of my journey here in a few days. All that is left is to return to Paris and fly home.

So I thought I’d share a few things about Athens that I think are worthwhile and tasty.

The brilliant architectural gem that is the Acropolis Museum should not be missed. its use of natural light and it’s replicating of the Parthenon’s size and scale is fantastic. The glass floors looking down into ancient remains of neighborhoods uncovered during it’s construction is a highlight for sure. If you come here don’t miss it as it gives you and fills in for you the whole picture that was once the Parthenon.

Also in the museum is a great collection of Archaic period artifacts which was my favorite;

While I am on Museums be sure to go to the Museum of the Ancient Athenian Agora. This is the kind of museum I really like as it is centered on everyday life and objects. Don’t miss the Toddlers Potty Chair.. This collection spans from the Neolithic up through the Archaic and into the Classic. See cookware jewelry and all kinds of everyday objects. What becomes immediately clear is how colorful their lives were. There is also a Bronze shield from Sparta...war booty from the battle of Sphacteria in 425 BC. And the site itself of the Ancient Agora is a good place to get your head around what Ancient Athens was really like. The museum is included in the cost of the 5 day site ticket you can get that covers all archeological sites for 30€. It pays for itself in two days really. (And gets you around those pesky ticket lines)

I also liked Hadrian’s Library a place where the layering of centuries of history is easy to see and comprehend.

Some good places to eat:

This first called APTA (pronounced ARTA I think) is a tiny Mom and Pop place run by a man and his wife both in their 60’s. This is not easy to find mind you but well worthwhile for the local color, characters and especially the home cooked food at cheap prices. Have the meatballs...and everything else. This place can be found near the corner of Meg. Alexandrou and a small semi-pedestrian street called Iosonos. It is about a block west of the Wyndham Grand Athens Hotel. I cant take credit for this find as it was recommended by my AirBnb host Vasillis.

The second is a bit quirky. Tired and hungry, hot and sweaty just back from the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum we rounded a corner in the area around the Sygntama Sqaure and ran smack into Taqueria Maya. Now normally I would eat at a Greek place or eat the local food wherever I am. I always order the local beer and wines. But I had already had 11 days of Greek food and a month of Bulgarian and Turkish food, which, while not Greek, shares many flavors and aspects. So I felt fine about indulging....I was craving a good taco anyway.

Now I grew up in Southern California, ate at my Mexican friends houses for dinner when I was a kid and now I sometimes spend part or all of the winter in Mexico...so I feel safe in saying I know good Mexican food. I was not disappointed. This was more authentic than most of the stuff that passes for Mexican in most of America including Texas. As a plus he knows how to make a real Margarita. Now I am a Margarita Purist. NO margarita mix for me with sugar and other flavors ...no no no. There are only three things in a Margarita...Fresh Lime juice, Tequila and Triple Sec. We had a jug of very good Margaritas. This is a simple go-to-the-counter and order kind of place with a stylish but subdued interior and only a handful of tables. A Mexican immigrant you ask? Nope. Greek guy who spent a lot of time in the US and California and decide to bring this food home.

The address is Petraki 10 10563 Athens www.taqueriamaya.com

It made a perfect place to chill for the afternoon after two big sights. A good finish for the day.

Posted by
5262 posts

You're absolutely right about the Acropolis Museum, a wonderful experience. As I'm sure you know, they built it to have a place for the "Elgin Marbles" and other pieces "acquired" by the British, French, and Germans in the past. Now it serves as a reminder of what's missing from Athens. But also, looking at the pediment sculptures that stayed there, it reminds us how much damage industrial pollution did in the last two centuries to the pieces that stayed on the Parthenon instead of getting protected in northern European museums. A beautifully designed building, and a very good cafe also.

And I'm sure your discovery of good Mexican food and drink in Athens will delight all those who eventually tire of the fresh fish and salads, olives, lamb, pita, retsina, and other Greek delights. Hope your marathon trip has been as rewarding and interesting as your thoughtful and provocative (in a good way) posts on this forum.

Posted by
8626 posts

aa--- if you want a good lunch, try To Kati Allo-- address Chatzichristou 12, Athina 117 42, Greece

Its on the street behind the Acropolis Museum.

Posted by
396 posts

For me the ancient agora and it's museum are a must-see. In addition to what the OP mentioned above, the temple of Hephaestus is in an amazingly good state of preservation. When we were there mid-morning the sun was lighting the interior walls and bringing the stone to life. Really beautiful. We also enjoyed wandering the grounds, identifying the remains of the buildings and reading about what occurred there (we brought a guidebook for the site). So many things that were significant to the lives of Athenians occurred there. You get a sense of the complexity of their political lives through the buildings they erected.

We also visited the Museum of Cycladic Art. The floor on the social traditions of the Greek people of a century or so ago, that RS describes in the Greece/Pelop guidebook, was closed for rennovation. That was a big disappointment because we were the most interested in that. But we still enjoyed the art, which has an abstract beauty. The museum also tries to provide a historical perspective although so much of the context of the art has been lost that it appears somewhat difficult to do. If you're interested in a deeper drive into very ancient cultures this museum ties into some of the most ancient artifacts seen in other museums. This was a Day 3, get-out-of-the-heat-of-midday museum for us, after we had see the main sights the previous days.

Just a block from there is the Byzantine and Christian museum. It's collections are extensive, and I think you would need a specialist interest in religious icons to enjoy the entire collection. But the main building, directly across the courtyard from the entrance gate, contains a good synopsis of the entire collection and can be enjoyed in an hour or two. Once again it's a place that provides a deep dive on a portion of Greek history that isn't front and center in other Athens sites. It's a modern museum that brings the period to life with displays that represent the significant trends of life in that period. It helps illustrate how the ancient Greeks became the modern day Greeks, with all of the influences from other cultures/empires. The museum has shaded outdoor cafe that was a good place to get off your feet. They also had an extra admission showing of a 3D movie by the National Geographic about the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. I understand the tie-in between the movie and the museum collections but I found the movie skippable. I guess it seemed strange to be in a city with so many amazing things to see, watching a movie about somewhere else. And the tickets were relatively expensive.

Posted by
546 posts

@Lia...yes there is so much more here to see for sure. I wish I had time for it all. I am only here for four days and I limit myself usually to two big things a day. Or sometimes one.

On this trip I have been to 25 museums (and I am sure I am leaving a couple out of that count) that is more than many people get to in their entire lives...so I am a bit Museumed-out right now. And of course this doesn’t count the innumerable churches, Cathedrals, Monastaries, Ruins and ancient sites. So I am kind of winding down right now....LOL

Posted by
396 posts

Yes, on one of our trips DH said to me, 'Not another cathedral!', so I've tried to put more variety into our trips. How wonderful that you've been able to spend so much time in Europe! We'd like to do that someday.

Posted by
2987 posts

I adore Greek food, but I'm definitely getting some carnitas tacos and margaritas next time I'm in Athens! Thanks for the rec!