Visiting Athens, Greece

Athens, Greece is one of the oldest cities in the world.  It is the birthplace of democracy and home of Athena.  Prior to visiting, I didn’t think much about Athens.  I know of the economic turmoil that plagues Greece, and of the recent riots in the downtown area.  I know that Tony visited Athens in high school as part of his Greek studies.  I know that I like Greek food.   But Athens is way more than all of these things.  Nothing could have prepared me for how much I would fall in love with this incredible place.

Upon arrival, we were greeted with the most pleasant weather.  The entire trip, it was 65 degrees F (about 18 C) and sunny.  The temperature made it perfect for exploring by foot.  Our first night, we ventured around the down town area and ate a quick dinner at Feyrouz, an authentic Lebanese restaurant.  The owner’s son served us and our interaction with him set the tone for the trip – everyone in Athen’s is so incredibly nice.

I couldn’t tell you what we ate, but I can report that it was fast, cheap and delicious.

athens

First view of Athens

athens

Feyroux

The next morning we ventured off to the National Library to start our free walking tour.  Tony and I have taken a lot of free walking tours and we both agreed that this was by far the best.  Our guide was Alex and he is an actual anthropologist.  The tour was informative and interesting because Alex was passionate about his home town and the history of Athens.  For example, we learned:

  • Athens is named after Athena – she gave the Greeks the olive tree which provides food, oil and wood
  • Owls can be found in much of the architecture and artwork in Athens – it is the bird of Athena
  • Owls are native to Athens, and their usage is also symbolic – Athens spawned many intellectuals, and since owls can see in the night, it is representative of intellects being able to see and think clearly during difficult times
  • The anatomy of the marble statues was finally explained – the big heads and chest represent logic and ethics, while small genitalia represents addiction
  • Before they were round, ancient coins were shaped to be miniature animals (i.e. cow) as that is what used to be traded for goods
  • Given the history held in Athens, archeologists have to accompany most construction efforts, and many projects are delayed due to ancient discoveries

athens

athens

Owls everywhere

athens

athens

National Library

The following day, we visited the Parthenon and took a cooking class.  The Parthenon was one of the most magical places I have ever been, even rivaling my beloved Eiffel Tower.  It was so surreal to be walking on rocks that hosted footsteps from 2500 years prior.  It was difficult to truly comprehend the work that went into these buildings, the time taken, the tools used.  We spent a lot of time here, but the hours spent left me wanting to stay even longer.

athens

Matilda wasn’t as impressed as we were

athens

athens

athens

athens

athens

In our cooking class, I learned how to make one of my all time favorite food items – tsatsiki.  The class was held at the Greek Kitchen and even though I hate cooking, I really enjoyed eating what we made.  Especially that incredible tsatsiki, yum.  The only downside was all the onions used.  My friend and I had burning eyes almost the entire class.  🙁

The last thing I want to highlight about Athens is the juxtaposition of the old and the new.  Given that Parthenon sits on top of the city, it was almost always in the background of the graffiti art that covered the city.

athens

athens

Meandering through thousands of years of history, great food and kind people made Athens one of my favorite cities.  It is worth the visit and the history lesson.

Until next time, αντιο σας!

Back to the Wine Boats

The first year Tony and I lived in Zurich, we made sure to explore all the Zurich wine boats had to offer.  The wine boats are an annual tradition in Zurich. Boats are pulled together at the lakefront, and different wine distributors set up shop to sell their products.  This event is essentially  free wine tasting while floating stationary.

Our first time around in 2013, we struggled a bit.  Part of the struggle was the fear of the approach.  We hadn’t learned any German and didn’t know how to “get started” when it came approaching the stands to taste wine.  This year we were much braver.  So brave, in fact, that we brought our baby with us.

wine boats

Baby on a Boat

We received two different reactions from the people on the wine boats:

  1. Aw, she’s so cute!  What type of wine does she like?  Haha, I think I am so funny.
  2. Who the hell brings a baby to a wine tasting event? I hope she doesn’t cry and spill her tears in this 2004 merlot I’m sipping.

Of course we didn’t care.  We were as considerate about it as possible, strapping her to Tony’s chest rather than daring to push a stroller through crowds of people and small spaces.

Besides, the wine distributors themselves loved her.  Because of Matilda, we were able to get to the front of the line at most of the wine stands.  We also had the distributor’s full attention due to Matilda’s interaction with them, which meant more wine for us to taste.

wine boats

wine boats

Boat, bar or both?

We only stayed about an hour because the tiny space and amount of people made it very hot.  Matilda started to get antsy and fussy, and of course, we didn’t want her tears spilling into anyone’s wine glass.

We managed to leave with a few orders or wine, and are looking forward to their arrival.

wine boats

Over it

Some things I will share in regards to the wine boats:

  • I didn’t take my own advice from 2013, which was to RESEARCH in advance.  The guide you are given is alphabatized by distributor, not wine type or wine region.  This made it more difficult to identify which stands we really wanted to dedicate our time to.  I don’t know many people who buy wine based on the distributor, so if you are serious about purchasing wine, know what you want (specifically who distributes it) in advance.
  • I mentioned this in the original blog as well – eat before you go, and go on a week night.  We did follow this advice which was to our advantage.
  • You don’t need your wallet.  They bill you after they send you the wine but watch out – you tend to spend more money when drinking. I will soon be the owner of a case of Barolo I didn’t realize I wanted. 🙄
  • Check your coat.  The event is in late fall when it starts to get very chilly.  Most people hang onto their coats because you are temporarily outside when walking from boat to boat.  However, the boats are very hot given their size and the volume of people, and the coats just take up more space.

Here’s to another successful year on the wine boats, and to starting a new family tradition! 🙂

I Dream of the Delicious Food in Paris

A few weeks ago, I was back in Paris for work. I absolutely adore being in my favorite city.  I didn’t get a chance to explore, but I still dreamed.  Dreamed of the restaurants and delicious Paris food I missed out on instead.  When I visited this past June, my friend Sara took me to some incredible new places that I highly recommend trying.

Clown Bar

Clown Bar is a popular restaurant right now, and Sara and I completely lucked out by getting an early reservation one night.  Talk about mom life.

In October of last year, the Eater.com called Clown Bar the “most thrilling restaurant in Paris”.  I have to say I absolutely agree with the sentiment, especially as it related to the circus themed decor and the style of the food.  As per usual in popular Paris restaurants, servings are small, but made to perfection.  They offered interesting combinations of flavors and delightful presentation.  To top it off, everyone that worked there was incredibly nice.

Me @ Clown Bar

Paperboy

Paperboy is right down the street from Sara’s apartment.  We had a quiet and beautiful brunch on our last Sunday together at this great restaurant.

Their items are simple but astonishing.  They provided a tray of 3 dips for our bread – homemade peanut butter, butter and caramel.  It was to die for.  I could’ve sat there eating the caramel all day, but I also had a delicious meal to enjoy. The best part was that it was so reasonably priced.  To date, I believe Paperboy offers one of the best brunches in all of Paris.

Inside Paperboy

Paris always has another amazing restaurant to offer, and I will continue to dream of (and drool for) the Paris food.  At least until the next time I visit….