Chelsea and I have not posted much to Love My Brit recently, but there is a good reason for that! We have been on our first true holiday together. Like many LDRs this is not our first time together, we have made plenty of visits between the UK & USA before (which you can read about here). However, what made this time different is that we decided to take a vacation – not to stay at home, but take a trip together across Europe. Along the way we stopped in three countries: Greece, Italy and the UK. In particular, we visited the capital city of each country: Athens, Rome & London, as well as a couple extra stops along the way.
Now that we are both well rested and have returned from our trip, we wanted to share our adventures with you! This is the first of three articles (click here for Part 2 & Part 3) chronicling our adventures in each country. In this installment, we cover our time in Greece, which was split between the capital, and a remote peninsula on the Attic sea.
Our First Day in Greece
Chelsea and I arrived in Greece on a Monday evening. We had both spent a whole day travelling, and so after settling into our apartment and eating dinner, we fell asleep pretty much immediately. But that was definitely a good thing, as the next day (our first full day in Greece) we spent seeing some of the most famous and iconic sights of Athens.
Obviously, our first port of call was the Acropolis. The huge structure is an icon of Greece, and can be seen towering above the city of Athens from nearly anywhere. The weather was overcast as we made the walk up the hill, but fortunately there was no rain. When we arrived at the site we were, honestly, a little underwhelmed. Covered in scaffolding for restoration work, and crowded with tourists, the Acropolis was not all that we had hoped for. Still, we managed to get a few good photos, before heading back down the hill.
At the bottom of the hill, we were able to explore a bit more of the ancient ruins. Less crowded, and without the construction work, this was much more enjoyable. With the sun even peeking out a little from behind the cloud cover, we were beginning to enjoy ourselves. Surrounded by whitewashed marble, standing in front of the Odeon of Heracles, it was not too hard to imagine how extravagant the whole area must have seemed at the height of Greece’s empire.
A short walk away from the Acropolis & Parthenon is the Ancient Agora of Athens. An Agora, as we would come to learn, is a public space for events and markets. But even this, now surrounded by leafy foliage, and the bustling city seemed extravagant. Most temples and buildings are now little more than a few marble columns, or outlines in the ground. But a few stood strong, most notably the Stoa of Attalos (pictured above) now converted into a museum of Ancient Greek artifacts.
After spending some time at the Agora (and a quick lunch break) Chelsea and I found the Acropolis Museum. For almost half an hour we had been looking for this museum earlier this day, only to find it by accident now. But, at least we had found it. In the courtyard was a glass viewing platform for the excavations underneath the museum, which we had a quick peek at before heading inside.
The museum itself was not what we had expected, it was large but sparsely populated. While there were some carvings and statues from the Acropolis inside, it seemed that nearly as many that were there, were replicas of items from other museums. There was still plenty to see, and we spent nearly an hour wandering around, appreciating the craftsmanship of the amazing stone artworks.
The next stop on our tour of Athens was the Temple of the Olympian Zeus. In the heart of the city, surrounded by traffic, stands the ruin of this once great temple. The size was enormous, and the columns dwarfed much of the city around it – it even took a while to walk around the enclosure that housed the ruins.
Finally, at the end of a long day, we had just one stop left on our itinerary – the Panathenaic Stadium. This grand stadium is famed for holding the earliest recorded Olympic Games, and is one of the few surviving structures of its kind. It is a testament to Greek culture, and still grand to this day. We stopped only for a short while to take some photos before heading back to our apartment, nearly eight hours after we had left that morning!
Two More Nights in Athens
Over the next two days, many of our plans (including a day trip to the beach) were hampered by rain and Greek Independance Day. Unwittingly, we had booked our holiday to coincide with one of the biggest days of the Greek calendar, on which almost the whole city of Athens shut down and celebrated with a huge military parade. Fortunately, we were still able to get out and about, and check a couple more things off of our sightseeing list!
Syntagma Square, the public square in front of the Greek Parliament, was only a few minutes walk from our apartment. This gave us chance to explore and take photos of the square, a focus point of modern Greece. There were also many stray dogs living in the square (as there are across the whole city) which we were able to feed. Although, judging by how much food they snubbed, these strays are well looked after by the locals.
As the rain set in, Chelsea and I looked for somewhere inside, and ended up in Athens Metro Mall. Compared to malls in the USA or UK, this one was small, but still had a good number of shops to explore. We were even able to find some Frozen Yoghurt to enjoy while we waited for the rain to pass.
As we ventured back outside, we discovered a huge amount of museums in the capital. Unfortunately we didn’t have the time to visit all of the museums on offer, but we did stop at the Greek War Museum, to learn a little more about the turbulent history of the country, from ancient times, to the war of independence, to world war two and even present day.
At the end of another two busy days, Chelsea and I settled back into our apartment for our last night. Tomorrow, I planned to take Chelsea to Cape Sounio (argued by many to be the most romantic spot on the Attic peninsula), which she still did not know about. As we settled into bed, the skies cleared, and we were able to snap this amazing shot from the balcony of our apartment of the Acropolis!
Cape Sounio & The Proposal
The next day, we checked out of our apartment and headed to the local car rental. I had booked a car to make the 70 mile journey to Sounio, and surprise Chelsea. The only problem was, the Greeks drive on the right! This meant that Chelsea was much more competent in the driver’s seat than me, and ultimately ended up taking the wheel. But, fortunately, by giving directions, I was still able to maintain the surprise – even though Chelsea definitely knew something was up by now.
As we drove out of the city, we took the coastal path to the southernmost tip of the Attic Peninsula. Here, we checked into our hotel – the Aegeon Beach Hotel (complete with its own private beach). After settling into our new room, we drove to the Temple of Poseidon, which was to be the backdrop for my proposal to Chelsea. When we arrived, there were tour groups on the site, and a lot more visitors than I was expecting.
I had the ring in my pocket, and was ready to propose. I had planned this moment for months. The sun was shining, and we had the most gorgeous view of the Attic sea behind us. Everything was perfect, except the tourists. I waited a while, as we explored the ruins. Then, just as we were about to leave, I walked Chelsea up a path to the side of the Temple. Here we were alone, it was private. We had the weather, the view; everything I could have hoped for. It was here that I asked Chelsea to marry me – and she said yes!
We stayed for a little while longer after I asked the question, taking some more photos, to try to immortalise that moment forever. It was an incredible feeling. I felt a wave of relief and happiness once I asked the question. Not because I doubted that Chelsea would say yes, but because of everything that had gone in to that moment.
If you want to read more about the proposal, from the ring, to the location, to a very detailed description of the moment, you can read more about it here. EDIT: I am still working on this article, it will be uploaded as soon as it is finished!
Once we felt that we had spent enough time at Cape Sounio, we made the short three minute drive back to our hotel. Here we were able to celebrate more, and enjoy all of the facilities the hotel had to offer. We were among only a few guests at the hotel and had the restaurant to ourselves as we ate that evening, with beautiful views over the sea. We walked along the beach and enjoyed each other’s company – finally engaged.
This last photo was taken just before we went to bed. It was our last night in Greece, and what a great way to end it. We went to sleep knowing that the next day we would be on our way to the airport. From there we would fly to Italy, and continue our holiday as a newly engaged couple. To find out more about our time in Italy, be sure to read Chris & Chelsea’s Eurotrip: Part 2 – Italy.