Amalia had only two days at the end of her trip to Greece to enjoy Athens, but staying at the Grande Bretagne Hotel, (friends call it “the GB”) put her right in the heart of the city with a balcony overlooking Constitution Square…
… and a perfect view of the tourists gathering to photograph the Evzone soldiers stationed in front of the Parliament building.
Amalia was greeted with “Welcome” gifts from the GB, including flowers and this arrangement of chocolates. Even the lady caryatid, who looks like the columns holding up the Erectheum on the Acropolis, was made out of white chocolate, but she was too pretty to eat.
Breakfast at the GB happens on the roof, and with your Herald Tribune and fresh squeezed orange juice,....
you get this view of the Parthenon.
Amalia’s first priority was to check out the pool, also atop the building. (There’s also an Olympic-sized pool in the spa in the basement.)
Bathing suit, check. Sunglasses, check. Nemo water wings, check. Dora the Explorer hat, check. Amalia was ready to hit the pool.
She tried to get Papou to go into the pool with her, but he had meetings scheduled.
Amalia decided she didn’t want to go any further than the first step down…
…despite Mommy’s efforts to coax her into the water. (In the distance you can see Mount Lycabettos, with the Church of St. George on top.)
When she spied the fountains in the corner, Amalia decided that was much more her idea of water play.
Later Mommy took Amalia in her stroller to explore the National Gardens nearby, which were originally the Royal Gardens for Amalia, the first queen of modern Greece. But now they’re for everyone, including her small namesake.
The animal cages were empty--no doubt one more result of Greece’s economic crisis—but there was a pond full of turtles,
Some baby turtles rode on their Mommy’s back.
There were pieces of ancient columns to pose on
And swings to share with Yiayia Nenny
And a sandbox where this boy had some really cool sand toys and a dump truck he was filling with sand…
…But a bigger boy named Socrates took away the dump truck and the little boy cried and Socrates’ Mommy gave him a lecture, while Amalia was riveted by the drama.
Walking back to the hotel, Amalia wanted a close-up view of the Evzones doing their goose-stepping dance in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Barricades had been put up to protect the Parliament building from the anti-austerity demonstrations which often take place here, but the pigeons and the tourists managed to get in easily.
Mommy pushed the stroller so Amalia got a really close view.
As the sun began to set, everyone gathered on our balcony to enjoy the “Welcome” bottle of wine and watch the sunset.
The last dinner, on the roof of the hotel, included lobster and another dramatic view of the Acropolis, but by now Amalia was sound asleep, gathering her strength for the ten-hour plane trip to New York’s JFK airport, during which she would watch two movies, eat a lot, explore the airplane from one end to another and drive her Mommy and her Yiayia Joanie to distraction.