Destination: Athens and Santorini, Greece

A dog joins the author in enjoyment of a sunset on the island of Santorini.
Photo by Charish Badzinski.

My dinner host removes the beeswax coating and slices some avgotaraho, a Mediterranean delicacy of cured fish roe. He squeezes a lemon over the top, cracks some fresh pepper over the platter, then holds it out to me expectantly.

Avgotaraho, or cured fish roe sometimes called the “poor man’s caviar,”
is dressed here by my dinner host in lemon juice and fresh cracked pepper.
Photo by Charish Badzinski

He pierces a slice of the roe with a toothpick, places it in his mouth and savors the salty, oily flavor. It is subtle, yet somehow sensual. After a reverent pause, he looks me in the eyes, “The rich, they don’t know how to live. How to eat. How to love. How to make love.”

The low light exposes his humble Athens apartment like a secret affair, filled floor to ceiling with books and jazz albums.

Enjoying avgotaraho and American Jazz in the low light of my dinner host’s apartment
in Athens, Greece. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

The deliberate enjoyment of such simple pleasures–music, food, poetry–the philosophical conversations and social commentary as complex as the food served, and the sense that there is not now, nor will there ever be, a suggestion to leave or rush anywhere, are uniquely Greek. In a society that claims to have invented “everything”–including math, science and astronomy–that once conceptualized a world map with Greece at its center, that still hosts buildings more than 2,000 years old, the greatest of monuments is the individual moment.

Tourists make their way through one of the many ancient structures of the Acropolis.
Photo by Charish Badzinski

Perhaps it stems from their impressive history, or the strong sense of nationalism you’ll discover among the Greek people, who need little encouragement to tell you about the inventions and discoveries of the Greek.

The island of Santorini is known for its Cycladic blue-domed churches and breathtaking views.
For the best views, get a room on the caldera, when you go. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
In the town of Fira, Santorini, visitors can ride a mule up–or down–the nearly 600 steps
 from port to town, for a fee. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

It is a feeling lost as you stroll the Plaka, one of the oldest sections of Athens, which is teeming with tourists shopping for traditional kompoloi, or worry beads, the distinctive liqueur ouzo and leather goods.

The winding streets of the Plaka are teeming with tourists. It’s a great place to buy
souvenirs, or people watch. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

Yet it is rediscovered when standing the shadow of the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the size and scope of which will have you wondering whether Greece really was and still is the center of the Earth, and if so, why would you want to hurry off anywhere else?

Odeon of Herrodes Atticus, an amphitheater built on the south slope of the Athenian Acropolis.
Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Baklava, served at a restaurant in Athens. Photo by Charish Badzinski.


It’s hard to walk around Athens without your mouth agape as you experience the Acropolis towering over the heart of the city, the winding streets of the Plaka and the crumbling archeological sites seemingly everywhere.

Caryatids, carved female figures acting as pillars, stare out from the porch
of the Erechtheion on the Acropolis in Athens. Photo by Charish Badzinski

These historic elements seem to arm wrestle with challenges of the modern city: traffic, pollution, graffiti, feral dogs and noise.

A problem of the modern city: graffiti. While this dog appears to have an owner 
(based on the collar he is wearing) there are also many wild dogs in Athens.
This building was razed just days after this photo was taken.
Photo by Charish Badzinski.

Athens is an assault on the senses–a marrow-of-life-stew–and a welcome assault at that.

Read the rest of this article, including an overview of Athens and the island of Santorini, on page 44 of this issue of Coulee Region Magazine. This article was first published in Coulee Region Women, and is republished here, in part, with permission. 

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Charish Badzinski is an explorer, foodie and award-winning travel and food writer. When she isn’t working to build her blog: Rollerbag Goddess Rolls the World, she applies her worldview to her small business, providing strategic communications, media relations and writing support to individuals and organizations. 

Find Charish on Twitter: @charishb
Creative Commons License
Rollerbag Goddess Rolls the World by Charish Badzinski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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2 thoughts on “Destination: Athens and Santorini, Greece

  1. Carole, you simply must go. It is a lovely, lovely place. When people ask me what my favorite place in the world is, Santorini is on the short list–though it's impossible to choose just one! I would recommend going off high season, so that you aren't navigating heavy crowds. As a bonus, the lodging rates are cheaper! I went in mid to late October, and loved it.


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