Monday, June 24, 2013

Back in Athens

By the time we woke up next morning, our ship was already docked in Piraeus harbour. It sailed all night while we slept and arrived in the port at about 5.00 am.

We were back in Athens. We were going to stay one more night here and we still had a day and half in this ancient city. We intended to visit some of the places we missed during our earlier stay.

After checking into our hotel, we made our way to Plaka once again to look for food. Benson and Nelly did not join us. They decided they didn't need lunch and opted to stay back in the hotel to rest.

The remaining four of us walked around and finally settled in this restaurant.

We did not eat inside. Instead, we opted to go alfresco across the road.

We shared the dishes, starting with this Caesars. It was nice change from the already mundane Greek salad.

Followed by 2 pasta dishes. The spaghetti bolognese was really quite good. The sauce was rich, the meat generous and the pasta texture was nicely al dente.

The penne carbonara was likewise. However, penne has never been my favourite pasta.

This was pork souvlaki. The meat was tender and grilled superbly.

This risotto was the worst of the lot. It was like soggy porridge. We cannot trust the mat-sallehs to cook rice, can we?

In their countries, I prefer to stick with their breads. These were freshly baked - still warm - and were very good.

After makan, we took a walk around the city. We explored Monastiraki, the Athens flea market.

There were a lot of things but not a lot of people to buy them.

The square outside was a lot more lively.

A small group of people had a banner and used loud hailers to make a lot of noise. We were later told that they were teachers demonstrating for more pay.

From there we took a cab to Lycabettus Hill and where we met up with Benson and Nelly.

At 227 meters, it is the highest point in Athens. It was a very short ride up by funicular train.

From up there, the view of the city was spectacular.

As night fell, it was even more dazzling.

That evening, we dined at the hill top cafe. We had been warned not to eat at the hill top restaurant because it was super expensive. But this was not the restaurant. It was the adjacent cafe, managed by the same people. It was not expensive at all. There was a special seafood menu - all we could eat for 20 euros per person.

I liked the cafe. The food was reasonable. The ambiance was very nice. And the view was fantastic. My only complaint was that the place was too dark and did not allow me to take very good pictures.

We started with a mushroom soup, served in an fancy oversize plate. I remember the soup as not bad.

Followed by a simple salad.

Then they served us this delightful deep fried shrimps. It was fried whole - head and shells. And eaten as such. The flavour was marvellous. It was crispy and aromatic.

The mussels were cooked in a spicy sauce. The flavour was ok - in fact quite delicious. But the mussels were too small. There was hardly anything to eat.

The entree was this pan fried fish. It wasn't great. I do not know if it was that fresh. It wasn't fishy but it did not have the fresh "sweetness" of fish.

After dinner, we lingered outside for awhile more to soak up the night lights and to take more pictures. It was getting very cold. We then took the funicular down and back to our hotel for a good rest.

Next morning, we visited the new Acropolis Museum.

It was quite a fascinating place. The relics were very well exhibited. But they did not allow photography inside. All I could manage was this outside shot.

After the museum, it was time to makan again. By now we were so ready for some Chinese food. It had been more than a week since we had an Asian meal. We came across one Chinese restaurant during our time in Athens before the cruise. We went looking for it. And we found the restaurant!

The place was named Shang Hai Night. It was managed by some mainland Chinese. When we arrived, the place was packed with a group of Chinese tourists. We had to wait outside awhile for a table.

Benson ordered the dishes. We then settled down for some nice Chinese tea. I really missed my Chinese tea. I think I missed that more than the Chinese food.

We started with the Szechuan hot and sour soup. It was so very good.

This was a spicy pork dish. Another marvel. Absolutely delicious.

The vege was just so-so.

The onion omelet was ordinary. But it still tasted good.

This was a spicy "mar por" tofu. They prepared this dish very well. The sauce they used was not like those I tasted back home in Malaysia. It was delicious.

Finally, this was the steam fish. They did not serve the fish whole. They were fillets. The fish was very fresh. I liked the dish.

I had double servings of rice. It was a most satisfying lunch. It wasn't because it was our first Chinese meal after nearly 10 days in Europe. The chef actually did a very good job.

After the hearty meal we rushed back to our hotel, collected our luggage and headed to the airport. We had a flight to catch - on Scandinavian Airlines.

Our destination - Stockholm, Sweden.

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