We have a pretty awesome family tradition. On each of my child’s 12th birthday, they get to go anywhere in the world, courtesy of their grandmother, my Mama Love - Abuelita. Lucky for me I get to be their +1! Inspired by the Percy Jackson series, Leonardo chose Greece, and changed the +1 to a +2, bringing along Violet.
With all that, I went into this trip without much expectation. Only two must do’s, visit an island and see the Acropolis.
This approach made it easy in many ways. Arriving in Athens, we had no time constraints, since there was not much of an agenda. We were free to walk through the Plaka, a charming and lively historic neighborhood, at our leisure. We could spend as long as we wanted in the kitschy tourist shops. Side note, not prepared for all the figurines of Pan and his enhanced male anatomy, although the children were most amused. We meandered through the cobble stones streets, stopping to see ancient ruins that would randomly pop up, or pausing for a snack break.
I do wish I had researched what to eat and where to eat. Living in New Orleans, I know you don’t just go into any restaurant in the French Quarter that advertises “Red Beans and Rice” or “Oysters”. However with two hungry jet lagged kids, there was no time to read the recommended restaurants in my guidebook, let alone sort out how to get there. We resorted to the “tourist traps”, steps away from our hotel. Hard not to, their al fresco dining was inviting and considering, they were packed full of people, it creating a lively social ambiance. First day not so bad, but by the second and third, it all tasted the same and I knew there was more to Greek food than a Greek salad and a Souvlaki. Oh well.
The other recommendation to self would have been, get up very early to visit the Acropolis. July is prime visiting season, overly crowded. It was also pretty hot, with no clouds overhead, the sun beat down on us, bringing some heat. The crowd and the heat was less than desirable conditions for my two tired kids. There was no oooing or awing at the ancient columns. Leo went with visions of climbing around and exploring the ruins a la Per Jackson style, to his dismay much of it was roped off. I explained the importance of preservation however he was still not pleased.
No denying in Athens, as most of our time in Greece, we were the typical tourists, we did not go off the beaten track. We stayed close to all the popular hot spots and did many touristy things, including donkeys in Santorini. While this is not my preferred method of travel, I will take it.