When we first decided to plan our own private tour, off the cruise ship, in Athens we outlined what we wanted. First and foremost we knew we needed to find a tour group who had a good reputation and would understand and comply with what we wanted to do. We didn’t want some canned experience of being told where to go, when to look and what to remember. We wanted our own experience. That’s hard to do with 12 people, even if they are all friends, as we are. But we found the perfect company: Manos Taliadouors and Athens Tour Driver.
Paige met us as we disembarked the ship. She was bright and lively and, luckily for us, spoke beautiful Greek, which she liberally translated into English for us. Her first step was to reconfirm everything we’d asked about in our email correspondences as we were planning the day-stop with Manos. Yes, yes yes, was the response to our every request. Knowing time was short before we had to return to the ship, we set off. Paige pointed out sites we would not have seen had we taken this journey on our own; recently built pavilions that housed the different Olympic games; the yachts at the piers (and how even they were not immune to the financial and economic hardships of the region). Giorgos willingly pulled over for pictures at an opportune time and in response to our gasps at the beautiful scenery.
Our first stop was the new Acropolis Museum (just opened two years ago). What an amazing place! We could have spent a year there viewing 1,000s of years of amazing history, but we couldn’t wait to get to the Acropolis itself. So, in rapid fashion, we undertook the gentle *but slippery* climb up to the Acropolis –it’s a good idea to wear firm fitting shoes with some traction on them. At different intervals you just must turn and drinking in your surroundings, imagining yourself back in time and among people going to view the National Gardens; the temple of Olympieion; to see a play; or to seek counsel at the temple of Athena, the Parthenon. So many amazing memories we made in just a short afternoon.
Upon our return to street level the Mercedes Van, Paige and Giorgos were there as promised waiting to take us on to the next untold delight, lunch in the heart of the city, the Plaka district, at a locally owned restaurant. Lunch was fabulous and presented new sensations for our taste buds. I don’t think we were too shy about trying any of the local dishes which were presented to us; or the beers. After lunch Paige directed is through the streets for our last 90 minutes before we had to be back to the ship. A little shopping, a little ice cream, and of course a little Ouzo; we bought a few bottles at Brettos, dubbed the oldest distillery in Greece. Google this place before you go, if you get a chance. So amazing!
The afternoon ended all too soon but not before we learned that Paige writes a blog for: Nileguide; look for the Athens link. This was wonderful to know as we felt we wanted more of Athens which time would not allow. Given that Easter was the following weekend, we enjoyed extending our time there “virtually” by reading Paige’s blog and learning about Holy Light.
Many many thanks to the proprietor of "AthensTourDriver", Manos Talidourous at for selecting such wonderful people as Paige and Giorgous; we felt as if we were in capable hands and very much got a sense of the flavor of Athens throughout our stay and beyond.
A. FrazierLake Stevens, WA. USA