Istanbul is the capital of Turkey and it has such an unique culture brought over from Europe and Asia. I’ve wanted to visit ever since I saw the Istanbul episode from Anthony Bourdain’s: No Reservations. We mostly stayed at the Levent area, one of the main business districts on the European side of Istanbul.
For lunch on the first day, we didn’t want to travel too far for food and the hotel recommended Kosebasi for authentic Turkish food in the nearby vicinity. We soon arrived and since it was way over lunch service, we had almost the whole restaurant to ourselves except for a few other guests. Everything started well, but the ending left a somewhat bittersweet experience which I’ll elaborate on further.
Today’s the day we’re finally visiting the Acropolis! I’ve been waiting for this day since I was first introduced to Greek mythology in grade 9. That really sparked my interest and I further took a course in third year university on classical Greek/Roman history. It was also one of the few lectures I actually enjoyed going to rather than contemplating skipping lol.
After breakfast, we headed out. I thought we were there pretty early but I was shocked to find hoards of tourists already queuing at 9:30am! One thing though there were two lines, one noticeably shorter and we curiously walked over. I think this line was for people with European passports but they took one took at our Canadian passports and asked how many tickets we needed. We purchased the tickets and they let us in without further ado. Even if such a rule existed, I find that the Greeks tend to sport a rather laissez-faire attitude about certain rules.
We arrived in Athens sometime later in the afternoon. Since a half day was not enough for visiting the Acropolis, we decided to make our reservation at Varoulko for this evening. After dropping off our luggage at the Royal Olympic Hotel, we started to explore the Plaka area!
Plaka is certainly a more touristy part of Athens but the location is very convenient if you want a walking distance to the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum. In fact to accommodate a large tourist crowd, many of the restaurants translated their menus not just to English, but also Mandarin, French, Spanish, Korean, etc. There were also many souvenir shops along the sidewalks and some worthy souvenirs to bring back definitely include any of the following; preserved olives, olive oil, thyme honey, and argan oil.
Time certainly goes by fast when you’re shopping! After strolling through the stores and purchasing a few items, it was time for a change of clothes and off to Varoulko. Varoulko is the first Greek restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star and its focus is mostly on creative seafood dishes. I first knew about this restaurant through Andrew Zimmerman’s Bizarre Foods Show and the dishes Chef Lazarou created were so captivating that I just had to dine here. Varoulko’s first location was near the Acropolis but was later moved to Piraeus, a port city in Attica right outside of Athens.