Traveling with a Toddler – Athens, Greece: In-air Emergencies and The Acropolis

It turns out late January is an excellent time of year to visit Greece. Technically “off-season,” it’s still 60 degrees with sunny skies and greenery all around, just minus about 1/2 the tourists one usually encounters in peak season.

We flew Dulles–>Heathrow–>Athens with an itinerary we thought perfect for our almost 2 year old. An overnight transatlantic flight on British Airways followed by a shorter flight arriving early afternoon into Athens.

Don’t forget to download episodes of a favorite show in case of no internet access
Asleep on the floor while DaDa helps a stranger

We’ve flown together as a family of three on at least 4 occasions in these two short years. Our daughter is usually a good flyer, but I still have PTSD from our trip last summer to Italy when she screamed for 6.5 hours straight. I’m happy to say she was a delight on the way here. Entertained by Peppa Pig and endless crackers, she hardly fussed a bit. What we didn’t expect however, was the call for help on the plane.

“If you are a Doctor of Medicine, please press your call bell.” I half thought I’d dreamt the overhead call. Just over halfway through our flight, my two co-travelers were both sleeping, and I’d just closed my eyes. I jabbed Amir. He awoke startled, pressed the button, and we waited. About 5 seconds. A calm but concerned flight attendant arrived and told us a man up front was having a medical event and they were attaching the defibrillator. What I had assumed was a simple syncope or low blood sugar event was clearly more serious.

“My wife and I are both emergency medicine doctors, we can go.” We decided that he would go, and I would stay to watch our daughter. After thirty minutes, a different flight attendant came to update me. “The man is 82. He stopped breathing. Your husband will be tired when he returns.”

I knew then what the outcome was. We were only 4.5 hours into our flight, still an hour away from the nearest airport where you can safely land a 747. The story of what happened in between is not mine to tell. We were required to stay in the plane for 2 hours after landing to give statements to police. As such, we missed our connecting flight to Athens. The British Airways crew were so apologetic, but we felt it a small price to pay to delay our holiday a few hours to have the opportunity to put our training to use. If only the outcome could have been different.

Amazingly we all were asleep by 10pm Athens time and slept all night and into the morning until 10am. We’d missed the delicious hotel breakfast of fresh coffee, yogurt and fruit, but we were well-rested and ready.

If you have a baby or a toddler, and don’t have a CitiMini stroller, you must be missing out on how easy getting around can be. We’ve taken this thing to California, the Bahamas, Italy and now Greece. It’s survived the pummel of airport baggage handlers across the globe and can even tackle the crooked sidewalks of The Fan District back home in Richmond. If you plan to travel with young kids, don’t be afraid to travel with a good stroller. Strollers and car seats are free to check.

CitiMini is easy to carry in case you hit unexpected terrain

Whenever we arrive in a new place, we like to walk around first to get a feel for the location, people, safety and maneuverability.

Athens has an insane amount of graffiti. Most cities attempt to take down graffiti as soon as it goes up. There’s a threshold you cross where once there’s a certain amount it’s accepted, just part of the area. It’s peculiar to see the juxtaposition of 2500+ year old ruins with this century’s modern art.

Graffiti, mural and cityscape

From down in center city near our hotel, we walked up towards the Acropolis. The incline wasn’t as severe as it seemed when looking up from below.

Walk up to the Acropolis, looking back towards city center

We stopped along the way to refuel and taste some local sweets. We enjoyed coffee and pastries hand-piped full of Nutella.

Amir teaching the finer points of coffee and donuts

We stopped to say “hello” to a few of the numerous kitties who live just outside the Acropolis. They are quite friendly and appreciate the music of the street musicians.

Making friends

We reached the top of the hill and the Acropolis. You can purchase a 5 site pass for $30 euro which lasts 5 days and gives you access to the major historic sites. We also opted to hire a guide to walk with us and narrate the history.

The Odeon of Herodes Atticus
Boba carriers are good for up to 45lbs, so our 30lb toddler can rest comfortably
Maybe too comfortably
Our guide Cuina, a native Athenian, was a wealth of knowledge

The views from here were amazing. You can see the whole city and even the Aegean Sea.

Throughout the millenia, the Acropolis has been rebuilt. Limestone is the older part on the bottom with marble more recent (400 BC)

They recently moved these statues into a museum we will see tomorrow. Replicas now sit where the originals once did.
Our guide was kind enough to take photos for us along the way

While our guide said the tour was 1 hour, at hour 2 our daughter was getting restless, and we still had more to see. We politely cut our tour short and carried on by ourselves.

Aegean Sea
Only 22% remains of the Parthenon

The rest of the day was spent tasting local cocktails, exploring hidden side streets and fresh seafood.

The restaurant owner eats outside near the kitties and the birds

Amir providing a guided historical tour
Grape leaves and local beer
Grecotel Pallace Athena
Someone was too tired for seafood dinner. More for us.

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