Hi Frugalistas! When it came time to organise my Culinary Backstreets walk in Athens I thought it might be nice to share the experience with some foodie friends. So the team at A Taste of Travel Blog, and Vanessa from Turnipseed Travel eagerly put their hands up to join me. The day started off quietly at first: we met up, found our lovely guide, Despina, had breakfast, then more food. Then it was time to head to the Athens Central Market.
Entering the Athens Central Market
Starting in the meat market, it wasn’t very busy, and we all wandered around taking in our surroundings, encouraged by Despina to look around and take our time. Being travel bloggers, we were all snapping away, taking photos. I managed get to quite engrossed talking to the butcher selling the bull’s testicles (his performance and pride in his, er, product was hilarious), so I got a bit separated from everyone else.
Turning around, I spied Vanessa making a beeline for the exit, Despina hot on her heels. Catching up with Jenny from A Taste of Travel Blog I was advised that Vanessa was starting to feel a bit unwell, but we were to continue on. So we kept wandering around, taking photos and generally enjoying our visit.
A few minutes later Vanessa returned – looking a bit peaky, but saying she was OK. It was just the smell. Barely 10metres further down the aisle and it was no good – Vanessa needed to leave, beaten by the “atmosphere” of the meat market. Despina told the rest of us to take our time, and meet her at the end of the aisle while she took Vanessa to our next destination, a café in the fish market. She would be back for us……
Waiting for our guide in the Athens Central Market
Well, we finished looking around, and stood at the end of the aisle. It was a lovely sunny day, so we enjoyed the weather and the street scene. We hadn’t seen each other for 12months, so had plenty to chat about. Time went on, and still no Despina….
I got my phone out of my bag. Despina had my phone number as the organiser of the trip. No phone call, and still no Despina. We chatted away happily……
Finally an anxious and a very worried Despina arrived. She was so embarrassed! A group of travel bloggers, who would be writing about their experience. We were more worried about Vanessa – who it turned out was perfectly fine and safely installed in the café waiting for us.
Entering the fish market of the Athens Central Market
As we entered the fish market many of the fish mongers said hello to us, and invited us to take photos. Deep in the market we reached the tiny hole in the wall café (with about 6 chairs), and a smiling Vanessa. Smiles and hellos all round from the staff in the café as we were presented with a tsipouro (a Greek aperitif) and a plate of mezes to match the tsipouro.
Her four blogger “children” all safely back to together, Despina was finally able to calm down and tell us what had happened.
Having reassured herself that Vanessa was safe, she returned to the meat market. With our blond hair and fair colouring, Jenny and I were definite stand outs in the market, so she asked the butchers where we were. “Oh they left, and went to the fish market”, she was advised.
So it was off the fish market. Asking around the fish mongers, no one there had seen us. In a panic Despina went up to the market management and made three announcements in English for us. But of course, we were waiting out on the street at the end of the aisle and didn’t hear her.
No wonder she was so relieved to see us!
As for us, we couldn’t imagine what all the fuss was about – we knew we weren’t lost. We were more worried about Vanessa. Vanessa was embarrassed because she couldn’t even survive a meat market – you can read her hilarious account here. Although she didn’t have any, Despina was the one who really needed the tsipouro to settle her nerves. The mezes were delicious, the café owner was beaming, and the other café customers looked on smiling.
And for me? It was definitely one of the highlights of my trip to Athens, and something the four of us can laugh about whenever we meet from now on. Poor Despina; I’m sure next time she gets asked to guide a group of travel bloggers, she’ll think twice about it!
You can read more about our Culinary Backstreets tour in an upcoming post.
Author’s note: we received a media rate for our Culinary Backstreets tour.