Visiting Athens Greece (with Mike Reed) – 70

When it comes to history and culture, it doesn’t get much better than Athens, Greece. This European destination is an amazing city to tour, and today Ryan and I are joined by a recent traveler to the “glorious city.”

Show Body:

We will hit these topics with informal conversation. Hitting key points and opinions.

  1. Traveling to Athens (long-haul flights, Athens Airport)
  2. Travel to Athens from Airport (taxi vs. Train)
  3. Where to stay in Athens (the Plaka Neighborhood), Hotel Plaka
  4. Highlights of Athens (what to see, how to do it)
  5. Food, culture, people
  6. Tips for visiting Athens
  7. A “Highlight” story from our time in Athens (no, not the barbershop story, Mike…)

Question: What would you like to know about visiting Athens, Greece?

Please let us know in the All Things Travel Podcast Facebook group!

Start Making Your Magical Memories!

Ryan and Shayne are both Travel Advisers with Creating Magic Vacations, an authorized Disney Vacation Planner. Feel free to reach out to us for a free quote and to start making magical memories.

Where in the World is All Things Travel?

  • Pueblo, Colorado
  • location

Check out the complete list of where in the world you’re located.

Never Miss a Thing!

Subscribe to All Things Travel Show on your favorite app, so you never miss anything:

Please share it with some friends while you’re here.

Check out the complete list of episodes.

Episode 70 Transcripts

Shayne: Hello and welcome to all things travel. When it comes to history and culture, it doesn’t get much better than Athens Greece. This European destination is an amazing city to tour. And today Ryan and I are joined by a recent traveler to the glorious city. You’re listening to all things, travel episode 70 original air date to September 15th, 2021.

Ryan: Well, Shayne today, we have a special guest with us. The first two weeks of August, as, I’ve talked about on the podcast, I was far away. I was on Atlas ocean voyages for a brand new maiden voyage of this new cruise line. And I was joined by a fellow traveler, a fellow, Creating Magic Vacations, a travel advisor, Mike Reed, and he’s with us tonight.

Shayne: Hey, Mike.

Mike: Hello. Hey Ryan. Hey Shayne. Thanks for him. 

Ryan: Absolutely. Absolutely. So Mike, give us a little bit of an introduction. 

Mike: my name is Mike Reed and my wife and I are travel agents with, Creating Magic Vacations. I live in, in a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and by day I work in school administration and By night, I’m a travel agent.

Ryan: By night, you plan in trips.

Shayne: So now we know your secret identity. 

Mike: I am Travel Man. 

Shayne: Who are you?

Ryan: Yeah.

Well, what, so, so Mike and I spent two weeks on Atlas,  and we spent some time in Athens beforehand. We toured through the Greek Isles, which we’ll talk about on an upcoming episode and we ended the trip in Cairo.  and today we’re going to talk specifically about Athens. Because I had been there before, so I knew what to expect a little bit, but Mike hadn’t and the folks that we traveled with hadn’t and it’s fair to say that I fell in love more with Athens, and I know that they fell in love with the city of Athens.

So we’re going to get all into that. But first Shayne, I want to know where some of our listeners are from.

Shayne: Where in the world, we have a few new listeners for the past five episodes popping up in Pueblo, Colorado.

Ryan: All right.

Shayne: Now, I didn’t know that there’s a, there’s a Riverwalk in Pueblo, so I’d love to go hang out on that river walk, particularly when the Steel City Brew Fest is right. So invite us out and we will come have a few with you.

Ryan: Hey, all, it takes the Brew Fest to get us there. Not We’re pretty cheap dates.

Shayne: not even that much, really. Dateline Worthington, Minnesota, invite us out and we’ll come hang out at the Forbidden Barrel Brewing Company.

Ryan: All right. Mike, where is Worthington in comparison to it?

Mike: Worthington is two, two and a half hours Southeast, Minnesota has a nice curve to it? and I’m kind of, uh, in the central area. 

Ryan: Okay. 

Mike: Well, actually I’m wrong. I’m directionally impaired. It’s in the Southwest corner, not the south. So it’s, uh, on the way to Sioux falls, South Dakota for us.

Ryan: All right, there you go. Well, welcome Worthington. We’re happy. You’re here.

All right. I want to talk about Athens today.

Shayne: I want to talk about Athens too. I want to hear about it. So you do just got back. Tell us about getting to Athens from where you started from, where you are.

Ryan: All right. Well, Mike was coming from Minneapolis and I was coming from Indianapolis and we met in Chicago and believe it or not, Mike and I have been to the same meeting. We’ve been in the same room and around each other, but we literally met while walking down the hallway together and O’Hare to spend the next two weeks very, very. It involved with each other as far as staying in hotel rooms, staying in state rooms, traveling together. So we were to say that we were thrown together was an understatement. Right, right. 

Mike: Oh, absolutely. Yeah. We, it’s amazing that we’ve been at the same events together. Maybe maybe have said hello in passing or here’s, here’s a here’s here’s a drink or something, but, yeah, we definitely, we, we met up in Chicago and, Sometimes we’re nose to nose in fun situations in random hotel rooms and on the ship.

But, yeah, we traveled from our hometowns, uh, to Chicago and then over to Athens. 

Ryan: Yeah. So the, the flight was, what about eight hours over there, Mike? 

Mike: Yeah. I think it was, it was scheduled to be. A little over nine hours, nine and a half hours. We must’ve made some great time and it took us about eight hours to get there. 

Ryan: Yeah. So we were lucky enough that actually I was able to, to reconfigure my seat. So Mike and I had, uh, had a three seat middle row to ourselves,  the two of us. So that was nice. That on long trips like that, that makes that a lot more comfortable. Absolutely.  so we got to Athens. Athens, uh, the main airport in Athens, I would say, you know, I’ve been, I’ve been to airports all over the world.

I think it’s a pretty straightforward airport, easy to navigate no problems there.

Shayne: Easy to get around. If you don’t speak the

Ryan: Yeah. Oh yes, absolutely.  everything mostly, uh, definitely in Athens and in most places in Greece, things are, are written both in the Greek alphabet and in English. So it’s, it’s very easy to get around.

Shayne: How long did it take on this trip for someone to say, “it all sounds like Greek to me?” 

Mike: Oh, we made that joke. And then when you made that joke to any local, they said, it all sounds like Chinese to me. 

Ryan: Yes, that that was their retort. Yes, that’s. That’s how they, they said that, uh, natively there in, in Greece. So since we’re living in the age of COVID, we did have to do a couple things. Both Mike and I are fully faxed. So we did not have to take a test to get into Athens, but we did have to show our, our vaccination card.

And we did have a kind of a prescreen form that we filled out. And as you funnel through the airport into customs, you had to show both of those things. But I would say, customs was pretty standard. The airport was pretty standard, no real issues there. It was, it, it, it went pretty smooth when you say.

Mike: I would say. that, having to fill that out in advance, definitely helped the process you had to fill out. We filled out a form with, with the airline. We filled out a form, with, with Greece filled out another form with the American embassy. Just to let us know that we were let them know that we were traveling, but the, when we. Got to kind of the edge of the customs area. They asked to see, the QR code from the form that we filled out with Greece. They asked to see our, vaccination card. They separated us into a line that we came to find out afterwards was here’s the vaccinated line and the unvaccinated line. And then we just waited in the queue to go talk to a customer. Yeah. 

Ryan: Yeah. Pretty smooth. So when you leave the airport, unless you have scheduled a transfer ahead of time, you basically have two options. You can take the train into town and that’s what Mike and I chose to do. And we did it purely economically. It’s about half the cost. It it was probably about a 40 minute ride.

from the airport, once the train got there, we waited some time for that, for the train. But I would say it was probably about a 40, 45 minute train ride into the city center.  and it was about 10 euros, a piece. I believe you could take a taxi and it would be faster, but again, it would be about 20 euros, a person.

So, you know, several easy ways to get into the city, but no problem there. The train station is attached right to the airport. So, you know, you’re, you’re not, uh, as long as, as long as you know what you’re doing ahead of time, like our, I had gotten information from our hotel to say, here are the ways you can get here.

And it was pretty straight forward.

Mike: Yeah. I think the hardest part was, was understanding the names of the train stations once we were on to get up, because at some of those, some of those were zipping by, and those, some of those were in the Greek alphabet or in, a more traditional. spelling with, our alphabet. So we got there, we figured it out along the way. 

Shayne: Yeah.

Mike: They color code it, their train routes, but they do not color code the trains themselves. So when a train shows up, it’s a little bit of leap of faith. When you’re stepping onto that train, you just kind of have to go, well, that’s headed towards the city. I know that if I can get to a certain point, well, worst case I get off and hop on a different line, but all in all, it w it went very smooth. 

Ryan: Yeah. Yeah. So we chose to stay in the plaque, a neighborhood in Athens and Mike, I was pretty adamant when, when we talked about where we wanted to stay, that this was the area that we wanted to stay in. Was that a good choice? 

Mike: that was an excellent choice. This was my first trip to Athens on the way back, we stayed right next to the airport. And.  I think if I were to ever, or I should say when I will travel to Athens again, cause I plan on in the future taking my family. I think I’m always going to try to stay in the block-out because it is so central.

And so to, to the history, to the culture, to anything you want to do easy to get into, easy to travel around. Great little hotels with great views, 

Ryan: Yeah. Yeah.

Mike: close to everything. 

Shayne: Is that where the train station arrived,

Ryan: Yeah. So, so, so we were able to get off there at a square. That was probably about a five minute walk once we got oriented. I mean, as you can imagine, after, you know, a nine hour flight followed by an hour or so of going through customs and immigration followed by, you know, a 45 minute train ride, it took us a second to orient ourselves.

Shayne: Hello. 

Ryan: were actually out in, in the, in the city area. But I actually figured out pretty quickly that this was a place that I had been to in 2019. And so I knew the general area. So we got oriented pretty quickly. And I think we were probably about a five minute walk away from our hotel. We stayed at the hotel Plaka,  which is, uh, a three-star hotel in the placket area.

The plaque is the traditional historical center of Athens.  you know, it is, as far as the type of hotel, I would say it’s a pretty standard. 

adequate European hotel. And I don’t say that in a negative way. It’s just, there’s not a lot of bells and whistles, except for one thing, Mike, one thing made this hotel stand out above everything else.

What was That 

Mike: would be the rooftop bar and the view of the Acropolis. 

Ryan: smoke Shayne. It was in fact, I think I even called you didn’t I didn’t. I you from the roof.

Shayne: Yes, you did. And showed me the view of the

Ryan: That was pretty cruel of me.

Shayne: You know what I enjoyed it. I’d remember. I even called my daughter in to have a at it and she was just as wild as I was. no, I appreciate that.

Ryan: no, this was, this was a really nice hotel, you know? Uh, partly because. The price was right. The accommodations there was, you know, there was nothing wrong with them, you know, Mike and I got our first case into rooming together in a European hotel room, which is the beds are separated, but they’re about six inches apart from each other,

Shayne: Just like Ricky and Lucy.

Ryan: Yeah, exactly, exactly.  and so we got in, we met our friends, Rob and  Kerri, who were there already, and we started to explore.

Shayne: Like pretty clear advice. If you’re going to experience your first trip in Greece, stay in the block on neighborhood the hotel, Blanca.

Ryan: Yeah. Yeah. And, and as Mike alluded to our last night, we had actually flown into Athens and spent one night before flying back home. And we, I intentionally chose a place near the airport. Because we were close to the airport then for the next day, again, the price was right. The hotel, there was absolutely nothing wrong with it.

It was, it was clean. It was great. We actually were able to take a bus back into Athens in about a half an hour. So, you know, there were still, but I would not want to stay there my entire time. I want to be in the city center. I want to.

Shayne: Right. 

Mike: absolutely absolutely would want to stay in the city center. And there are many neighbor neighborhoods. In and around Athens and the Plaka just seems to be the most central to get to all the other historical sites. It’s it just made for a great first experience for myself to be right there, walking distance to anything, or, hop on, hop off, open air bus experience, scooters and little cars everywhere to dodge a neighborhood, but it, it was. 

Shayne: Speaking of historic sites, she had, you flew into Athens, took the train to the Plaka neighborhood. What did you do? What all did you see and do. On your trip.

Ryan: Why I sat in the hotel room and watch Netflix the entire time. Oh, wait. No, we probably went  out. 

Shayne: Are you caught up on “What if?”

Ryan: Exactly. Exactly. No, you know, plus I was pleasantly surprised.  you know, again, not knowing Mike until the day before our travel styles really meshed. I mean, we both enjoyed going out and wandering and taking long walks and getting semi lost and going and trying, you know, finding some random place and then going, try to find it and exploring that, that really worked well for us.

Shayne: Very cool. So what kind of, what kind of places did you

Ryan: Sure. Well, when we first got there, you know, we were trying to take the advice we talked about on the podcast, Shayne, which is stay up as long as you possibly can.

Shayne: Good

Ryan: That first day.  I didn’t get very much sleep on the, on the plane. Maybe I dozed off for a little bit, but not much.  and so we just started walking and the good thing about the Hotel Plaka and the Plaka area is there’s lots of shopping, lots of things to see.

And I think Mike, the first thing we did was we went down, we just kind of walked the street length. Then we went and watched the ch the guards at, uh, at parliament didn’t we. 

Mike: I think we, we. That was on kind of one end of the area that we were at. So we took a long, a long walk through the streets just to kind of get acquainted and see the area.  and then we have, we made it all the way down to the parliament square and the building and watched the changing of the guards, uh, with their routine,  really cool way to kind of acquaint ourselves.

Uh, I believe we also. Started to figure out what we wanted to do the next day. We’ll walk in there and seeing kind of where the bus stops maybe and different, uh, tour opportunities that we may have. 

Ryan: Yep.

Shayne: Cool. What time of day did you arrive?

Ryan: we arrived on a Monday and our cruise was on a Wednesday, so we essentially had an afternoon, a full day and a month.

Shayne: Okay.

Ryan:  in Athens. Uh, so we certainly didn’t see everything you could see, but you can actually do a lot in Athens in a short amount of time, again, because things are, are compact. I mean, you’re talking about a historic city, so everything is, is pretty close.

That first day we also walked,  we walked to the, uh, was it Hadrian’s arch 

Mike: Yeah, Yeah, we went to, 

Ryan: gate. 

Mike: yep. We went to Hadrian’s arch where. arch was built by emperor Hadrian. I’m sure it wasn’t really built by him, but 

Ryan: he, he directed the project. Let’s 

Shayne: he had some work done.

Ryan: Yes. We went to,  we went to the original, uh, Olympic stage. And that was cool. Now the one thing that was kind of a bummer while we were, there was, there was a major heat wave in Athens. And so things closed down during the afternoon. So I think it was what between like one and five Mike, most of the major things were shut down.

Mike: Yeah, it was about 110 degrees every day. 

Ryan: Yeah.

Shayne: Oh, wow.

Mike: And So they shut down because most of the historical sites are large areas of stone yards, and roots to go through. So those. 

Shayne: of heat.

Mike: Got very hot, uh, felt like you were about two miles closer to the sun than anywhere else on earth. And,  so yeah, they shut down in the middle of the day.

So any of the historical sites that you needed to have admission to,  shut down and close the gates limited, it helped people limit exposure to them. 

Shayne: Cause when you’re out there, you’re just not exposed to the sun. There’s they don’t have shade trees and the Acropolis or

Ryan: There there is shade, but it is, it is sparse. And, certainly when you’re at the end and our next day we’re at the crop was so we’ll talk about that in a second. I mean, you are, I mean, there is no shade and you just you’re you’re out there now. What’s interesting is the last time I was in Athens in 2009, it was January and it was cold up there.

So it’s just what, no matter what the weather is, you’re exposed to it. So really that first day, then the rest of that first day was just kind of, you know, getting acclimated. We had a couple of nice meals, had some beer relaxed on the rooftop and then crashed.  

Mike: Yeah, I think we made it, uh, I’m going to say until about 11 o’clock at night, maybe by the time that we actually crashed. Yeah. We went and found,  I believe that was the night we walked over to the brew pub and had dinner on the sidewalk. Uh, we walked around a lot, found lots of. mom and pop convenience stores where they would sell some of the local beers and you could order a beer in and wander the streets and talk to people, find your way around.

so that was, uh, a great experience on the first day, really kind of push us to our limit. So then it really helped us get on to that time. 

Ryan: So, Mike, did you feel like the next day you were on Athens time? 

Mike:  I think I was closer to Athens time. I think it, I was still a little groggy in the 

Ryan: Uh 

Mike:  was able to push through that know, knowing what that day entailed of. 

Ryan: Right, 

Mike: Up to the Parthenon and, and on top of the Acropolis hill, uh, and see those sites, I think that helped it.  but for the most part, I think I was pretty well acclimated, uh, by just forcing myself to stay up. Definitely easier going there, then come back.

Ryan: Yeah. 

Shayne: that hot, it would be hide your dehydrate. You may get a little more

Ryan: Boy we, yeah, we were just, we were slamming water as, as fast as we could. That was, and, you know, with traveling Shayne, that’s one of the things you want to do anyway. So it really compounded that. So that full day that we had in Athens, that was really, for me, there were two must dues. There was the Acropolis and there was the Acropolis museum.

and part of what we did with that was we,  we did a hop on hop off tour a bus combo with that because of that timing of things being closed, and some things were, were closed a little bit more,  on that Tuesday. I don’t think we got the value out of that, that we could have, but we definitely spent time at the Acropolis and the Acropolis museum and I, and to me, that’s, that’s the most important thing.

And I know Mike, that was really important to you too.

Mike: Yeah.

that was really, that was, you know, two of the major things to see up there. I think,  had we been. Better prepared for, uh, the need for us to go take our COVID test that more 

Ryan: right. Sure. 

Mike: location. We would have had more time, especially in the morning, but that, that, uh, procedure of relying on a piece of paper provided by our hotel of where to go to get a COVID test and that,  it, it costs us probably two hours that 

Ryan: It did. And, and again, with things being closed out in the afternoon, those were important hours.

Shayne: And more the coping tests. COVID testing locations also closed during that time.

Ryan: No, no, but we wanted to go ahead because we needed a COVID test to get on our ship the

Shayne: Yeah. didn’t want to miss it.

Ryan: we wanted to get it as soon as possible. So we, we went ahead, we got on our bus and we took that first thing to the Acropolis cause we wanted to make sure to get that in. So I I’ve been there before Mike, so I would love to hear from you, what was your experience at the Acropolis? 

Mike:  A little bit taken back,  a little bit kind of beside myself. And it was con it was, it was very other worldly. It, it’s not the Acropolis. Isn’t one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, but it Sure. could be, it should be up there.  it was just amazing to think about that, of where I was standing in the history.

Uh, we. have that same significance in many structures in America, we have a couple of hundred years in Minnesota, much of the native population is preserved. So we do have historical significance of, of native American sites in Minnesota, but the history doesn’t date back as far as say, going into the Acropolis and going up there and go and seeing. 2000 years old, some of these sites, 3000 years old talking about, you know, the, emperor’s talking about,  the different philosophers and where they were be talking about, uh, the, you know, the historical context and shape of, of the, the Greek gods and their construct in the history of that area and just being up there.

Uh, it was, uh, it was just amazing to see that site, uh, If it wasn’t 110 degrees, I probably going to spend another hour. 

Ryan: Yeah, right. 

Mike: I think we all had prepared about one liter bottles of water and that was gone very fast. It was, 

Ryan: Yeah. 

Mike: it was amazing. 

Ryan: So as far as the Acropolis goes, one, one thing that I will say is there are accommodations for folks with, with disabilities. However you need to be prepared to walk. It is a hike and there is incline and there is slippery rocks and there is, I mean, it is not an easy place to visit it’s breathtaking and it’s amazing.

but you, you do have to be prepared for that. I mean, you are going to be traversing. Some, some not true. Traversing is not the right word, but you’re going to be, you know, you’re going to have to watch your step. You’re going to have to watch where you are. There are people kind of all over the place, so you just need to be careful with.

Shayne: You want to have the right shoes and 

Ryan: be sure-footed. 

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. This is not a flip-flop day. This is, this is a walking shoe, a tennis shoe,  kind of day. And really when you’re up at the Acropolis, you just kind of go at your leisure. I mean, you, you, as far as going around. I’m seeing the different things, you know, seeing the Parthenon and seeing the temple of Athena.

I think those are kind of the two largest structures.  they’re seeing the theaters off to the side,  you know, and you just kind of take it in and, and take pictures and, and read the placards. And, and here’s a tip if you’re living life on wifi. The hill at the Acropolis has some of the best wifi free wifi in all of Athens.

I learned that the first time I went, cause I, I didn’t have phone service at that point. I was just living off of wifi and I was FaceTiming folks all that stuff, things I couldn’t do other places.

Shayne: Now, you know where to go for the best free wifi in Europe.

Mike: Okay. 

Ryan: And then after that, we went to the Acropolis museum and, and I think if it were me. I would recommend people going to the museum first. So they get kind of a sense of what they’re going to see when they go to the Acropolis. But because of the timing of things being closed up, we couldn’t do it that way.

but really for me, the Acropolis museum really helps me understand the magnitude. Of what the Acropolis sites actually look like. They, they have done a great job of ex of showing excavations of showing what things would look like of tying it into mythology. It’s just to me, it’s a museum where you just, you it’s, every room has something where you’re like, oh my gosh, that’s beautiful. 

Mike: Yeah, They’re uh, the statues, the face carvings, there would have been. Rounded, uh, the top of the columns around all the buildings were there. Uh, there was, uh, displays of, of coins that were thousands of years old,  different statues, different faces, different,  pottery that was in there. And then the whole museum is built. 

Ryan: Right? 

Mike: On top of an excavation site. So you can be in the museum And the nice air conditioning looking through glass.

Ryan: And they actually have a glass for, so you can see the excavation site and they have a spot. They have a spot where, when you’re up on the second or third floor, I don’t remember which it actually frames the real Acropolis and you can kind of see where it was in relation to everything else. It’s it’s really cool.

yeah, absolutely. And I would say, okay, so let’s, let’s break this down. I would say the Acropolis and the Acropolis. So, so the, the hop on hop off bus tour. So that was two, a two day pass the hop on, hop off bus tour that included entry into other museums and other sites that included a ticket to the Acropolis and the Acropolis museum. I want to say it was 50 Euro. Is that correct? Mike? I cause I paid for both of us. I think it was 98 years. 

Mike: Yeah, that’s right. It was, it was about 50 year old piece to see the 

Ryan: Yeah, it’s a steal because along with that, and again, we didn’t have a lot of time to explore other things, but with the hop on hop off, there were other museums that you got entrance to. There was, you know, places where you could go get. Three, a Euro or souvlaki. There’s a place where you could go and get a free, you know, Greek coffee or different things like that.

I mean, you can really maximize that pass over a couple of days, I think. And that would really help you. I think see the majority of Athens and even just a long weekend. 

Mike: Oh, absolutely. I think there were parts of that past that we definitely underutilized and kind of kicked ourselves, uh, for not utilizing just the, the extra museums that you can get to the Greek culture museum. Uh, the Greek war muse uh, bringing down to the, I believe there was something down, uh, by the Royal palace, uh, different, different places like that.

Uh, We, we only saw the temple have just had half a station,  from the distance, but you could have gone over to that. There was, uh, quite a bit to see,  yeah, you could really, you could really jam pack a weekend and, and be constantly on the move and still not see everything that Athens has. 

Ryan: Yeah. Yeah. So Mike, let’s talk about food culture in people. So this was your first time in Athens. How, how did you, how did, did you feel like the city was approachable? Did you feel like people were approachable? Did you feel comfortable or was it kind of hard to navigate? What were you unsure? 

Mike: No. I think the city of Athens was, was, was fairly easy to navigate, especially in the day and age.  I did pay for the international plan with my cell phone, so I could pull up a Google map and, and see,  nothing is really built on a grid system. There’s streets 

Ryan: Right. 

Mike: like we would be accustomed to, but once you,  I think that the difference with there’s always some historical.

Monastery church, uh, ruins site, uh, Train station to, to, uh, navigate to. And from that you can see for quite a while. So that made it really easy.  I really think the hardest thing about getting around is the avoidance of the scooters and the smart cars, because they’re zipping through sidewalks, Right. There are streets,  that are just jam packed and they know where they’re going. And we’re trying to navigate through the sidewalks are smaller. So I think,  the navigation was easy. It was the avoidance of the extra parts of it, but, uh, people were really approachable and helpful.  there were always places to get something to eat or drink.

Uh, There’s a very cool area. That is a flea market 

Ryan: Yeah. 

Mike: type area where you can go do more of your traditional shopping or souvenirs.  so it was, it was very easy to navigate. People were super friendly. I think they were,  very happy to have. 

Ryan: and I think that’s part of it too. Yeah. But they’re happy to be open. 

Mike: Yeah. very happy to have tourism, being able to come back into their area and very happy. To talk. I think we noticed, especially that, uh, when we would sit down and have meals,  we were often provided an after dinner, dessert, or an after dinner drink, uh, after sitting for a while in the city of weapons, it was, it was like, they were very happy to share part of their 


Ryan: right. Absolutely. So Shayne, you had asked about, uh, was it easy to navigate with things written in English? I would say on top of that, Most folks who were, who worked in, in the tourist side of things, shops, restaurants, hotels. Could communicate in very passable English. I mean, there, there was very few times where I felt like there was a language barrier that we could not overcome.

Now. I don’t expect to go to a country in Europe and have everybody speak English. I totally get that. But I feel like of all the places that I’ve traveled in Europe, I think, uh, well, other than Ireland in England, where, but you know, any place I’ve been where English is not the first language, I think Greece is the easiest to travel.

Shayne: So, if not speaking a language is something that makes that somewhat, that makes someone uncomfortable about traveling to Europe. Athens would be a good place to go could easily get everything they needed and have all the fun they want without having to speak Greek.

Ryan: Absolutely. Absolutely food make you fell in love with some Greek food.

Mike: I fell in love with some Greek food. I had, uh, an Americanized view of what Greek food would look like.  having some great Greek restaurants around here where they would serve a Jiro, which was. Meat on a spit carved certain, a pita with, with, with that cucumber yogurt sauce and that meat,  traditionally around here was lamb.

Uh, when, when we went over there, it was Not lamb, 

Ryan: way.

Mike: was 

Shayne: wow.

Mike: pork, it was chicken. And what we call a year over here is generally called SU blocky over there. And, uh, We may have ate that for five or six meals sometimes. 

Ryan: It, it, it, it could have. So, so that, that full day in Athens, we had, we had. blocky for both lunch and dinner. And then I think we had it again for lunch the next day. 

Mike: Yep. 

Ryan: And then we had multiple times during our crews at different cruise areas and things like that. It, 

Mike: Then when 

Ryan: I love it.

Mike: we had it. again on our last day, we split, typically sought out our favorite little project. 

Ryan: the Grieco project won the day for us. Everything that we had there was amazing.  and, and cheap, cheap, cheap, good food.  

Shayne: That’s my 

Ryan: I think that our last meal there, Mike and I each had a Jiro and yeah. And it was a substantial sandwich. I mean, I would say it would be as big as a six inch sub wouldn’t you say Mike? 

Mike: Oh easily. I think, I think just the peanut would be the same size as the bread, but they, they load those. 

Ryan: they do. They stuff it. And so we had that and then we shared an appetite. And we each had a large beer cause you could get small sized beers or large beers. And I think we had a liter of water that we shared because often in Europe you buy the water at the table and I paid for that meal and I think it was 22 years.

Shayne: Wow. Nice. 

Ryan: four. I mean, that’s, that’s pretty good for, for two people to have a nice meal like that.  and we would get, we would get food, uh, you know, street food, and I think you paid for us one time, Mike, and it was like five Euro or something like that. I mean, it was just ridiculous.

Mike: Yeah, I think we got two different, two different soup blockies and it was five-year old. And then it was another, you know, we would stop at the convenience store and it was. 

Shayne: Okay.

Mike: One and a half year old for the beer. So it was, 

Ryan: Like a 16 ounce can of beer. You would, you, you could get a, you’re a liter of water for a Euro on on the street. And I would say. A lot of times when you go to larger cities, the prices are inflated. And I would say when we were traveling the Greek Isles, the prices were, especially if you were close to the port, the prices were higher, but I would say those prices pretty much other than those alternate touristy places.

Both Athens and, and other places in Greece, those cheaper prices held up. I mean, Greece is a really nice place to travel to because you can get really good food and drink for pretty reasonable prices.

Shayne: Now my favorite Greek restaurant here in north Fort worth a popular side with a Jiro is French fries. Did you have a lot of French fries

Ryan: Well, do serve a lot of French fries, but they actually put French fries in the euros.

Shayne: Oh,

Ryan: Inside it. And if you were to order an order of fries, I think I was contemplating doing that one lunch, Mike, and I’m glad that I didn’t, because there was like a plate of fries.

Mike: I think it would have been an entire supermarket bag of broccoli 

Shayne: Oh, wow.

Mike: and they serve that as their side of fraud. 

Ryan: Yeah. But, but, but you’re, you’re right. Chain fries are pretty prevalent, uh, a pretty prevalent side dish.  along with that gyro or that souffle.  yeah, so, so Mike tips for visiting athletes. So if somebody gets excited after listening to this podcast, what’s a, what’s a tip or two that you would share with them about visiting Athens.

Mike: I would say, find a good piece of research. Ryan, you had a, uh, a tour book that helped us. I also just a Rick Steves tour book 

Ryan: Yeah, and I use only planet. So.

Mike: That gave us a good reference guide for,  Hey, we have a question about where we want to go and have maps, So. you don’t have to rely on internet based research while you’re there.

I think another thing is try to stay as close to those city centers as possible, uh, that made the world of everything because we could literally walk out of our hotel and in five minutes, be at a historical site, a restaurant. 

Shayne: Okay. 

Mike: Uh, church, uh, anything, and it just made things so much more convenient to not be reliant on a taxi, a bus, a subway, Uber, a scooter, anything.

and I think,  willing to take the random turns in Athens. The really cool thing about the city in Athens in Greece is. never know where these roads are going to go, because some of the roads were built to confuse enemies as they were coming into town. 

Ryan: that is, I did not know that until this trip, but that is an absolutely historical fact.

Mike: And so be willing to take the turn and try new areas. 

Shayne: And y’all did that a lot on the trip and always felt safe.

Ryan: Yeah. Yes. And, and especially in Athens, it’s very easy to see when you’re kind of at that edge of that historic. Center. I mean, you’re going to hit a major road or you’re going to, I mean, or things, you know, the, the, the types of buildings are going to change dramatically or things like that. So you can kind of get a real good sense of what zone of the city.

I’m in. and again, we were there for such a short amount of time. We didn’t feel like we had to go farther than that.  but Mike’s absolutely right. You know, get Athens is the perfect example, Shayne, when we talk about, as long as you feel safe, getting lost is a good thing.

Shayne: Excellent.

Mike: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. We, we definitely had to, uh, get our bearings. It’s it’s a little, it’s easy to get turned around and then, you know, make a 270 degree trip around the block and then realize, oh, I should have taken a left turn up there and set up three Right. Turns.  but then you’re seeing such a great part of the world that it, that it’s, it’s not, you’re not, you’re not really. Scared. You’re not lost. You don’t have that sense of panic. You’re just exploring. There’s so many great things to see that, that every turn has something. 

Shayne: I think it would be fun to get a highlight from each one of you. Ryan, what would you say is, would be a highlight that stood out on this trip?

Ryan: Well, I think for me, one of the things that stuck out for me with Athens is I just, I love how. I love how proud people are of their history. Like everybody would talk to, like, they’re excited that you’re there to see their history. You’re there. They’re excited that you’re there to, to experience the food and experience the culture and, and be there.

And, and like Mike said, that may be kind of the times that we’re in post COVID. But I think that for me, that was an overall highlight of, of Athens in general.  both times I was there. Absolutely.

Shayne: So very welcoming. You always welcomed. You weren’t intruding or

Ryan: No, not at all.

Shayne: excellent. Mike, how about you? What’s a highlight from your trip to Africa. 

Mike: I think Seeing historical sites that that many times we only see in our world history book in high school,  and seeing them come to life and, and, and then, like Ryan said, seeing the locals tell you about the stories about those sites was amazing.  Hotel Plaka is on my list of places to go back to.

And I still remember walking up to the rooftop and going, oh my gosh. And then coming back at night and, and the entire hill is lit up and, and. 

Shayne: Okay.

Mike: Having my first sips of ouzo. Well on the roof top with some good friends at night, uh, it was probably 90 degrees at night and really enjoying our time with a spectacular historical view. 

Ryan: Yeah. Yeah. And that’s, and, and, and to piggyback off of that is one of the things that I really appreciate about Europe in general, but Greece in particular and Shayne, I’m sure you’ve experienced this in Spain is. The relaxing with friends, the having a drink in the square, the sitting and talking is the activity.

It’s not what you do while you’re waiting to do the activity. It is the activity. It’s the, it’s the sitting down and spending time. And if once takes two hours, lunch takes two hours. And if you want to sit and people watch with a beer, you can do that for the afternoon. And that’s okay. That’s part of it.

and like I said, Mike and I, you know, we kind of fell into this traveling friend. Luckily, we were able to do that. You know, we were able to S to, to explore together, spend time together. And by the end, we just enjoyed sitting and having a beer together and, and, you know, ex talking about our travels and that’s, that’s what going to a place like Athens allows you to do.

And especially then the Greek Isles that we’ll talk about in a, in a later episode,

Shayne: That is an inspirational wrap-up. 

Ryan: Well, Mike, if people want to talk to you about your experience in Greece, or if they’re interested in, uh, following you and Leah and what you all do with your travel advising business, how can they reach out to you?

Mike: Two easy ways to reach out to us. One would be email, which would be Reed, R E E D at Or You can follow us on Facebook. Uh, our, you can search for creating magic vacations with Mike and Leah, and you can find us on Facebook. We post a lot about our adventures as a family and our time, traveling right there on Facebook.

Shayne: You 

Ryan: right. 

Shayne: Time travel?

Ryan: Yeah. I was going to say that I 

Shayne: Time traveling. Very cool.

Ryan: to make a comment about time travel, 

Mike: Time traveling. Yes. 

Ryan: The ultimate travel advisor. Not where do you want to go? When do you want to go?

Shayne: We would love to help you plan your next amazing vacation. Right? And I are both travel agents with Creating Magic Vacation. An authorized Disney planner. You can reach out to us at Ryan, R Y A N, at or to me, Shayne S H A Y N E at

And remember it is our job to make you the vacation planning superhero.