The day four travel bloggers became celebrities in the Athens Central Market

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

Trays of giblets and pork

What started it all

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.

tray of bull testicles in the Athens meat market

Yes, these are bull’s testicles – as the butcher proudly told me!

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….

bundles of dried vegetables in a Greek market

Spending time waiting….

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.

glasses of tsipouro and water at a cafe in Athens fish market

Get that woman a drink!

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.

white plate of Greek mezes

At the end of the day it was about the food – our delicious mezes plateturn

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.




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8 Comments on “The day four travel bloggers became celebrities in the Athens Central Market”

  1. 17/11/2014 at 5:11 am #

    The bull testicles are quite intriguing but not enough for me to take a bit. I love exploring the markets during travel. Some of the best experiences are found there.

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 17/11/2014 at 6:13 am #

      Yes, I must admit I was far more interested in seeing the bulls testicles, rather than actually trying them!

  2. jenny@atasteoftravel 19/11/2014 at 9:08 pm #

    Fame at last! Poor Despina…I don’t think she’ll forget us in a hurry. It was a great day. Thanks for organising it Jo!

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 19/11/2014 at 9:11 pm #

      I felt sorry for her too – so embarrassed to lose us of all people. Then all those photographs we kept wanting to take of everything……

  3. Vanessa 24/11/2014 at 3:21 am #

    EWWWWWW!!!!!! I’m so glad I sprinted to the door before I saw the testicles! I loved, loved, loved our tour – my little mishap not withstanding – and I think most people would do perfectly well in the meat market. I’m just too much of wimp! But I think this points out what a great tour guide Despina was – she really wanted to make sure we were all safe and sound!

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 25/11/2014 at 7:47 pm #

      Apart from the testicles, the market actually reminded me a lot of the very well known Melbourne market, the Queen Victoria Market from when I was a child. I’m sure it’s very different now though…..

  4. DutchifiedBlog 24/11/2014 at 12:17 pm #

    Lovely Jo. We went after the conference. The meat market does take a strong stomach.
    I made a video which you might like:

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 24/11/2014 at 6:50 pm #

      Thanks Arnaud. It was great to meet you in Athens, and delighted you got some footage in Athens after the non-cruise we met at.

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