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Ancient History at Your Fingertips ~ Sunday

Nearby to the Ancient Greek Agora you can find Hadrian’s Library and The Roman Agora. The Roman Agora is far less impressive than the Greek version, but of course as a tourist, one must visit everything. This Agora was built in the 1st century by Julius Caesar and Augustus, and has a more spectacular building still intact; the Tower of Winds, the structure featuring a combination of sundials, a water clock, and a wind vane. And at the entrance of the Agora still stands The Gate of Athena Archegetis.

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After much sightseeing, we were starved, heading toward the neighbourhood of Plaka once again to visit another local-recommended cafe/restaurant “Yiasemi”. Located on the famous steps of Plaka, Yiasemi is tucked in at the side between some other restaurants in the area. Upon entry, there are narrow concrete steps that lead to ledges you can perch on to eat, or further bar stools and ledges or regular tables and chairs. The ceiling rose high above and the walls were covered in the most beautiful array of vibrant green plants. Through different doorways you could see larger, cosier and darker dining spaces, with the kitchen nearby and an even at a small separate stall, a woman making, what it seemed like, fresh bread. A large table hosted an array of fresh pies, salads, and cakes, my mouth watering just heading through to the bathroom.

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We perched on a tiny ledge at the entrance, soft cushions available to make yourself cosy on. Green patio furniture was dotted in this bright entry-way, matching the plants that filled the space. As for food, well it was spectacular; a small bowl of fresh tzatziki arrived first, made with thick and creamy Greek yoghurt, crunchy pieces of cucumber, refreshing dill and sumptuous olive oil, served with slices of fresh homemade bread. Then came a plate of fried pork in the meatiest, wonderful sauce… mopped up with the bread and with the tzatziki cutting through the rich and salty meat juices, my taste buds had died and gone to heaven. Shortly after came a small glass dish of roasted aubergine, stuffed with various vegetables. It was roasted to perfection, turning silky smooth and elegant, drizzles generously with oil and sitting in its natural juices. For pudding we had to try the famous lemon pie; a tart lemon-curd filling sat atop a crumbly base, perfectly washed down with iced coffee (which in Athens seems to be served with foamed cold milk on the top, like an ice-cream float). It was a lunch fit for a King, and I cradled my belly like a food baby were due any moment.

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We struggled to muster the strength to head out once more, but onward we went, back through Monastiraki flea market, and to Keramikos, another famous ruin site. As you might be able to tell from the name, this area was the potters’ quarter of the city, and interestingly from where the English word “ceramic” is derived. This site is also an important cemetery featuring a famous ancient road out of the city. On the site is a small museum with excavated artefacts from the area, and outside you can walk around the ruins, through stone archways and up and down ancient stairs and platforms. Olive trees are in plethora around the site and you really can feel yourself at one with history and culture.

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We found a cat and a tortoise.

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Surprisingly exhausted, we needed refreshments and dinner, the local markets and ruin sites closing and marking the end of the day. We headed back toward the first foodie-neighbourhood we first encountered, being a hotspot for tourists but also great food and drinks. After briefly visiting one restaurant with live music, we head to a new but very highly recommended wine bar: Cinque Wine & Deli Bar. Only a small venue, you can perch on a bar stool and sample the wines before you indulge in a bottle or three. And highly recommended are the “wine accessories”; platters of local meats, cheeses and chutneys, which are divine and exceptionally flavoursome – not your standard Sainsbury’s cheese platter for sure. From smoked salamis to tender hams and cured meats to tangy feta cheese and crunchy grapes, who would have thought dinner could be so simple yet so delicious.

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Sneaky pics en route to the wine bar.

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