Athens, Greece Pt.2

Honeymoon Series:

Athens, Greece Pt.2

Locations Visited: 

Monastiraki, Roman Agora, Ancient Agora, Temple of Hephaestus, Kerameikos

Weather: Extremely hot, scorching sun, had to stay hydrated. Evening became bearable. 

I am absolutely overwhelmed with everyone’s messages on this mini series, seriously! Isn’t Athens BEAUTIFUL? I highly, highly recommend planning a trip here because pictures can’t show the vibes of the city, I mean if pictures are this beautiful imagine how it would be in reality?! WELL, day 1 was clearly adventurous, but it didn’t end there because day 2 was even more action packed! We felt a little more familiar around the area we were staying, it was Jummah so we found a local Masjid to pray at, I don’t know if I mentioned this in my last post but Mashallah a good amount of Muslims! There wasn’t a area for women to pray, so I just waited outside.

Instead of sitting in Taxi’s we used Uber, it was the safest to use in Athens (we were told by locals to do so) so our Uber arrived and we headed towards our destination. Our drive was really nice (a good 20 mins), we saw more of the city which was extremely busy, we passed by a lot of familiar stores which honestly I wasn’t expecting (hey I’m new here). We arrived at “Monastiraki”, which is one of the oldest and busiest markets in Athens. It’s known for its narrow streets filled with lots of stores, street food and fresh fruits basically an open bazaar. Also (which I found SO interesting) in 1759 a Masjid was built, and is now used as a Museum and a Church. The flea market/bazaar has been held here since 1910 and runs until this day.

My husband is a TRUE fruit lover, so we stopped by some shops to pick up some fresh fruits, which he very much enjoyed (I am not a fruit person). We explored around, shopped a little and then made our way towards “Roman Agora”, which was walking distance as I mentioned in my previous posts that all the main places to be visited were planned around each other so we didn’t waste anytime. As we were approaching Roman Agora, the narrow streets were so beautiful of Monastiraki with so much history and richness, such a beautiful memory.

The timing we planned on arriving to Roman Agora worked out perfectly because it was not crowded at ALL. We literally had the place to ourselves, so reading about its history, taking photos and just enjoying the scene was very calm, except the sun we couldn’t leave our eyes open LOL. The Agora used to be the social and political center of the city, such as law courts, temples and stores. The remains here are of different times of History from the Romans to the Byzantines and Turkish. In which there were churches, workshops, and a Masjid (how interesting!). Everything was so beautiful, each column, pathway, entryway, even the arch of each ruin.

After exploring Roman Agora, we walked through Monastiraki, another side of it and that was another beautiful walk itself. We then made our way to “Ancient Agora”. This place used to be the main gathering place in the city. People here used to go to school, socialize with one another, do businesses, have entertainment, attend courts, and politics. The sun was a bit bare able by now, so we went ahead and explored the ruins read up about the history and ofcourse had a photo session 🙂

There was also a museum within the location, so we went and saw old ancient artifacts, how they made their pottery, how old statues were all in a line of their Gods and Goddesses (which I found so cool). We spent quite sometime there, also because there was AC soooooo yeah. After we were done with Ancient Agora, we made our way to the “Temple of Hephaestus”. The temple was located in Ancient Agora so our walk was a hill way up, and we made it! The Temple of Hephaestus, is the first temple to be made out of complete marble, from research it is mentioned that no one really knew which God was worshipped here. But within time of exploring the Temple, archeologists came across a discovery that the temple may have been to honor the dieties Athena Ergane (Goddess of Pottery)  and Hephaestus (Goddess of Volcanoes) because their statues were found. A very beautiful structure.

After we finished here, we made our way down back to  Monastiraki and then headed towards our final site- “Kerameikos”. By this time, the sun was not really “setting” but it was less sunny so we felt very good at this point. Our goal was to see every ruin before sunset and thankfully that was a succsess over all Alhamdulilah (Thank God). This location was not very big. I personally think because of how the sun was beginning to set, the location looked even more lovely. At this point my poor husband was so relieved we finished everything and this was our last stop LOL. Kerameikos, was once a potters headquaters of Athens. There is an ancient burial ground, two of the cities largest gates stood here, animal structures to represent the deceased and much more art all around.

The surroundings we were exploring was really interesting because, where the ruins we were exploring at had a dusty/sandy floor but at the same time there was green grass in other spots of the location. We walked around, saw the burial ground, we went inside and around some of the ruins, climbed up where the animals were structure for the deceased (majorly Lions). Our last stop was a very quick one because, the location was not as big compared to the other places we saw. We then sat down, looked around one more time, and took it all in, gave eachother high-fives on achieving our most tiring travel ❤ Once we were done, the sun was beginning to set, and we made our way back to the alleys of Monastiraki and came across a huge food strip of beautiful outdoor restaurants and live music (Oh God I miss the vibe).

We found a place to eat (Thank you Google for reviews) ordered some pasta, the famous stuffed vegetables, and a fresh Greek salad (it was a must for me with every meal). We watched the sun set across from us, enjoyed live music and had a very delicious meal. We then came back to where we started our day, Monastiraki sat there and enjoyed Athens night life, had some smoothies, ice cream, basically a junk food night :-). After all that, we headed back to our place to get ready and pack for our next destination in Greece…any guesses?

Much Love,

Nelo .A.

Monastiraki, dome shape is the old Masjid.

Roman Agora Ruins

 

Ancient Agora- Goddess Aphrodite

Making our way to the Temple

Temple of Hephaestus

Kerameikos

Kerameikos

Ancient Agora

Appetizers

Dinner

Fresh juice in Monastiraki

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Athens, Greece Pt.1

Honeymoon Series:

Athens, Greece

Locations Visited: 

Acropolis, Parthenon, Theater of Dionysos, Hadrian’s Arch, Temple of Zeus, Plaka

Weather: Extremely hot, scorching sun, had to stay hydrated. Evening became bearable. 

First off, I am so flattered how many of you are appreciating this mini series! I’m just trying to do my best in giving pointers to traveling to different countries without panicking (that’s literally the best way I can describe it). Ladies, I cannot express how EXCITED I was to traveling to Greece…here’s a little background information about me. I was always very fond of World History growing up. I was an Art student in College, studied alot about the “Ancient” times, and LOVED my Art History classes. To me, this location was a dream come true…out of the books! The amount of excitement I had traveling to Athens (and Rome) were just out of this world. You know, when your growing up and learn about these places you dream of visiting one day (not knowing if you really ever will) but when you do, it’s a feeling of thankfulness of how God can make things work in mysterious ways Alhamdulilah (Thank God). My mysterious way was/is  my husband ❤ thank you for making my dreams come true, not just here but always.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh… ATHENS! Oh my goodness, this place was AH-MAZING. Like I said earlier, I read and dreamt of coming here and I did, I knew all the history of every single place, literally. I definitely made an itinerary for 2 days in Athens, because one day would NOT have worked. Well, we arrived a little later than our actual arrival time because our flight was delayed 3 times in Bulgaria due to weather conditions. So it was probably around 10-11pm that we arrived to our AirBNB, settled-in, we were starving so went out and found a cute corner cafe “Repeat Canteen”, and must I say…HIGHLY recommended if you go. We had a fresh oven-baked pizza and some yummy pastries. We then headed back, had a good nights sleep and next morning it was adventure time! This is when our honeymoon became “action packed adventure”. Breakfast was again at, Repeat Canteen, I finally had a delicious espresso (I hate coffee) but this was something else…I had 2 of them. Yup. That was my go-to drink in Greece…”Freddo Espresso”. I have asked Starbucks here and they look at me like “huh” so if any of you know the name or what I can get similar here PLEASE share.

We were then off to our first location of the day: “Acropolis”. Majority of the historical locations were here.Also related to as the “High City”, a huge hill looking over the city this is also the home of the famous “Parthenon”. The Acropolis is the authentic symbol of Greek Civilization (going back to the Neolithic Period) with its most important main structures: The Parthenon, The Propylaea, The Erechtheum and The Temple of Athena. Standing at the top of this high hill, you can see almost all of Athens, and remaining sites of Greek mythology. I was overly excited to get this day started, so we walked up through the “Beule Gate” (we did have to purchase tickets to enter) and then there was more walking towards the top of the Acropolis. Today was the day that we officially became sun burnt…we forgot to apply sunscreen when leaving and now it was just too late. In the photos you can see how near the sun was, literally in our faces. We both dressed accordingly to what I read about the weather, HOT. But hey, it was ALL worth it.

We took our time getting to the top, because we were both so fascinated by the architecture and this is where we came across the “Theater of Dionysos” also known as the birth place of European theater (how cool). The Greeks would hold rituals for the God Dionysos but now unfortunately the theater has become very old, so it has limited performances, while we were there they were preparing for an orchestra. It was beautiful to see. As we began to make our way to the top of the Acropolis, it was peak time of “tourist traffic”. I think this was the most difficult place to take pictures, it took us plenty of tries to get a few good shots ( P.S. this is when my husband started getting annoyed of me LOL). Now since this is a very old location, there were some handles made to hold on to and ramps on top of cracks and holes for the safety of the tourists it was still a little dangerous but the security did a great job of monitoring everyone so two thumbs up there!

And finally we were at the top of the Acropolis and like a kid in a candy store I stood there, looked around and spotted my eye candy…the Parthenon. My smile, if it could stretch off of my face in that moment I’m sure it would have, yeah THAT’S how happy I was. It was so beautiful, so historic, so real. This was the worlds most ancient surviving structure of Ancient Greece, let that sink in. Built for the Goddess Athena, this structure has gone through many places of worship- a fortress, a mosque and a church. I had a final on this image, and I remembered every little detail I had written on my 5 page essay (known by heart) on this piece. And I was there, standing right in front of it, knowing every details of the columns, representation, and so much more. Ladies, I’m literally pouring my heart out here haha.

My husband was standing next to me, and saw all those expressions on my face and was like “wow, this meant THAT much to you?” Yeah husband, it did. I think the entire time we were up there, I kept turning around to him and saying “thank you, thank you, thank you for bringing me here” and just smiled back and said “I’ve learned so much from you, you have so much knowledge of all these places”. Now that was the cherry on top <3. I promise ladies, I am trying to make this post VERY to the point because if I sit here and go into details, trust me it’ll end up being a book. We then explored around, took our time reading, took many photos, bumped into so many different kinds of people from around the world. Acropolis was done and checked off the list, and we began to head towards “Hadrian’s Arch” and the “Temple of Zeus” they were literally right next to eachother.

Hadrian’s Arch was a quick stop because it was a huge Arch on the road way, which basically divided “Old Athens” and “New Athens”. With that checked off, we made our way to the temple. Now this was the largest temple in Ancient Greece, bigger than the Parthenon. The temple used to have statues inside, but due to time they became ruined. One huge pillar is on the floor, it was mentioned of an earthquake had ruined the temple. By this time, the crowd had become less and we just sat down and took a break watching the sun getting ready to set and have its rays on the temple. The weather had become a liiiiiittttllleeee bit cooler than what we were going through. After a good half and hour of relaxing, we made our way to find some food and that was towards “Plaka”. 

Plaka, as I read would be one the most “enchanting places in Athens” and you know what? It lived up to that sentence. This was a village within a city. Narrow streets filled with beautiful homes turned into strips of cafes, restaurants, live entertainment and loads of shops for shopping. It was extremely busy, but I loved the vibe. Each restaurant/cafe had their menu listed outside, we read through them and noticed majority of the menus were the same so we just picked a romantic restaurant and sat outside. The vibes of this place was so beautiful, we had a live violinist, candle lit dinner, delicious foods (we tried the Greek speciality which were stuffed tomatoes) and drinks. I must say, everyone was SO welcoming and kind, positive vibes everywhere that I felt like a true honored guest ❤

After having a beautiful dinner experience, we just explored around Plaka. Of course I had to get myself some souvenirs, so we shopped around.  As we were walking around, I saw so many people with this interesting looking ice cream and those who know me know I LOVE ice cream. We then came across a long line, and guess what it was? The cool looking ice cream! I forgot the flavor I got, but oh my goodness it was SO delicious. I obviously didn’t want to share so made my husband get me my own :-). The remaining of the night we just enjoyed in Plaka, the weather became lovely and Athens was extremely lit at night. And that ladies, concludes part 1 in Greece. Stay tuned for my next post because it’ll take your BREATH away! Trust me ❤

Much Love,

Nelo .A.

Looking at the Acropolis. 

Theater of Dionysos

Theater of Dionysos

The Parthenon

The Parthenon

 

Temple of Zeus

Temple of Zeus

“DaVinci” Ice Cream at Plaka.

Plaka 

Top view zoomed in from the Acropolis, Temple of Zeus on the left.

At the Top of Acropolis. 

Honeymoon Series

 

Honeymoon Series

Its Summer time, and ALL of us are defintily in the mood for…
traveling! What I decided to do for you ladies is to put together a
blog series of my Honeymoon around Europe! I know…I know…”oh my
godness! Really?!” Yeah, REALLY. After our wedding we had a good three
months break, overcoming all the wedding madness and then having
Ramadan literally a week after. We (lets be real, me) decided on which locations to visit, cafes, restaurants, famous sight areas, safety cautions, weather conditions,  you name it!
I am very OCD when it comes to planning, I like to be very organized
and do my research way ahead of time so that way no problems occur
(even if they do) I can handle it.

Our Honeymoon consisted of 4 beautiful European countries, in
which we both have never been to (except London) Germany, Greece, Rome
and London. What we decided to do is “country hop” which consisted of 2 days in
each location (arriving in the early AM, having that entire day plus
the next then leaving early in the AM to the next location vice
versa). A little more adventuours for us since we had a good break after our wedding.

Just some quick tips on what I personally did and found very useful to traveling to a new country. Please do your FULL research on the following:

Weather conditions

Society norms

Culture

Currency rates

Dress codes

Weather related outfits

Shoes

Distance

Famous sight-seeing locations

Timings of each location

 Itinerary guide for each location

Special cultural foods

Here are some quick tips on what to pack, my husband was making fun of me and mentioning how “we’re not going to the end of the world, I’m sure such and such will be there”. I definitely did not listen, and I’m glad I did not because it all came in handy :-). Note to all husbands- we always got this.

Camera, chargers, and portable chargers (it’ll make your life so much easier)

Your basic hygiene essentials

Your basic makeup materials.

Medicines, ALL kind you need just incase of an emergency. 

Sun screen, sun screen and sun screen! 

Comfortable shoes, I cannot express how important that is because I made a mistake there 😦 

Plan each outfit (and TRUST ME on this one) depending on the weather. Especially if you’re traveling to VERY hot countries, please pack breathable fabrics, try not to under layer.

Travel as LIGHT as you can, we had one suitcase and 2 backpacks. It was the BEST decision we made. Less hassle at the airport, and quickly getting through security. 

Passport holder-this was the most convenient decision ever. Everything was placed organized in one pocket, that way we did not have to panic losing anything important. 

Download a currency app

I really hope this helps all of you in planning a good trip with any loved one or even
just by yourself! I personally went through SO MUCH research, and I
appreciate those who had listed so much great information about each
country which led me to my own personal experiences. Especially as a Hijabi, I was very worried about how things would go, so I thought to myself I should do this to make it easier as all this information is coming from a Hijabi to all you Hijabis (and non-Hijabis). With that said, let’s begin!

Frankfurt, Germany

Honeymoon Series:

Frankfurt, Germany

Locations Visited: 

Iron Bridge, Romerburg, St. Bartholomew’s Cathedral, St. Pauls Church, My Zeil, Palmengarten, Old Opera House

Weather: very nice and breezy, a little warm at points but over all for July it was good. 

And so the adventure begins with our first stop…Frankfurt! Mind you all, I was on a plane after a good 5 years so during the 7 hour flight, I was a little nervous. But Alhamdulilah (Thank God) I kept myself together. We arrived to our hotel early in the day time, (it was probably 9am) luckily we were allowed to check-in early. The both of us were so excited to get this trip stared, we freshened up (no nap, no rest, NOTHING) and headed out to explore a new place we both have never been to. We made our way to AmMain, which is basically Central Frankfurt. I had printed and made itineraries for each of our destinations, planned out our days, and locations to eat yeah I’m OCD like that.

The first place on our list to visit was, “Romerburg”. Which is also known as Frankfurt’s “Old Town” and means “Roman Mountain” in German. Back in the day it used to hold trade fairs for the German people, and of course traders. Today, the surrounding is so beautiful due to its architecture, people from all over come to see it. I personally found it straight out of a vintage magazine or a Christmas card! Yeah! That’s how adorable this place was, not too big so we were done pretty quickly. Our next stop on the list was the “Iron Bridge”. The way I had planned the itineraries were how far/close was each place, that way if something was too far, I would replace it with something that was closer and vice versa (major tip ladies saves you a lot of time).

The Iron Bridge was not far at all (it was a 3 minute walk) thanks to Google Maps. So we both decided to sit down and take a little break by a Art museum that we missed (but its okay!). Now this is where my husband, fell asleep while sitting and speaking to me it was the most hilarious moment ever because we were sooooo jet-lagged. We then made our way to the Iron Bridge, and it was a very relaxing view. This bridge was damaged during WW2 but was rebuilt. From what I read, about 10,000 pedestrians cross this bridge daily, and around sunset lovebirds come and add locks to the sides of the bridge or write their names. Now we didn’t add a lock, but we definitely wrote our names <3.

It was about midday and we both were starting to get hungry (of course) now for Frankfurt I didn’t really make a “where to eat” list because when I was researching, it was mentioned how Romerburg had many markets and local cafes in the area, which there were so we went ahead and made our best judgement. We found a halal Vapiano’s (hell yeah). Grubbed away there, and then we wanted some German ice cream and crepes! Our first choice was a fail, we decided to get their famous “Spaghetti Ice-Cream” which was so horrible for the both of us. Not literally spaghetti but the flavor was made in that shape. After that we were a bit hesitant to try the crepes but the cafe looked so busy so we were like eh why not?!

THOSE.CREPES.WERE.SO.DELICIOUS. I wish I had taken note of the cafes name, but there wasn’t one! It was an entire strip in Romerburg of cafes, and each one was so busy! I loved the vibe. After filling in our tummies, my husband wanted to take a nap…I told him there is no way we are going back to the hotel. He was like “no…I’ll nap here”. And that’s exactly what WE did. I let him sleep for 30mins, that’s when my eyes were starting to shut, so I had to quickly wake him up before I passed out LOL. YEAH IT WAS THAT BAD. NOTE: ALWAYS HAVE SOME REST BEFORE RUNNING OUT. After a very good nap, we made our way to “St. Paul’s Church”. It was a very quick stop (I took no pictures because there really wasn’t much to take pictures of). There was a lot of reading about the history of the church etc. So we kinda zoomed out of there and head towards “St. Bartholomew’s Cathedral”.

This Cathedral is considered Frankfurt’s largest cathedral. The architecture was all Gothic inspired and thats my personal favorite! High sharp ceilings, beautiful interior and very detailed sculptures. Unfortunately we did not get a chance to go up to the dome, because of construction work, but besides that this cathedral was so beautiful. Next on the list was…some shopping! I mean come on, traveling so far…and not shopping? Psht!

“MyZeil” was where it was at, literally. This place was a HUGE, I mean HUGE shopping strip in the heart of Frankfurt. There were street shows, dances, live music, cafes, restaurants, you name it! This was the largest shopping strip in the country. There was also a 8 story shopping mall, which was built in 2009, all designed to have natural light come through all its windows. It was so unique! We chilled there for a bit, and about a 10 minute walk out of there, we hit an alley of Turkish restaurants and cafes! That night, we had Turkish food for the first time, and I wish we could go back and have it again, THATS how delicious it was.

Day two consisted of more of a relaxing day, we weren’t rushing into anything because we only had 2 major places to visit. We had breakfast in a very cute corner cafe, again something we just walked into. We then made our way, by walking to “Palemengarten” one of the largest botanical gardens in Germany. Trust me, they weren’t kidding about it being the largest…we were there for quite sometime! The botanical garden, was so serene. That when we both entered, we stood there and just took it all in, thats how beautiful it was. A very high, indoor Palm house that had a waterfall, exotic plants, benches where you could sit and just enjoy your view. I’m pretty sure there are many more botanical gardens around the globe, but this was so lovely. There were a few garden houses, we went into all of them because why not! Cute vintage little cottages surrounded by acres of flowers. We even spotted a little wedding, it was adorable! As I mentioned before, we were there for a while, because there was so much to see and learn about.

Our last stop of the day was the “Old Opera House”, in which we didn’t make it on time to see (because the garden was SO huge most of our time was spent there and we were unaware of the timing). But it was all good! We had a good look from the outside, then sat down near a fountain and just admired the building. We then headed back towards our hotel, packed up and got ready for our morning flight to our next destination!

My overall experience in Frankfurt was very good, I think it was a good city to explore. Would I decide to go again? I would definitely go to another city in Germany, probably Berlin. I hope this was very useful for you all, feel free to comment and tell me your experience if you’ve been to Frankfurt, I would love to hear!

Much Love ❤

Nelo .A.