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Vacation in Athens, Greece

This European city is filled with history, scenery and ancient ruins – from the Acropolis to the Theatre of Dionysus. See six landmarks in the region.

I'm not a traditional tourist. During my travels as an international photojournalist—even when on assignment—I only pick up my camera when there's something that touches my soul, often off the beaten path.

But during a trip to Athens, Greece in October as part of my European honeymoon, many scenes moved me—and were along very well-beaten paths.

While new to me, there was an Old World familiarity to this place known as the birthplace of Western civilization.

My senses were overwhelmed, starting with the warm autumn sun. The temperature in Athens is typically a mild 74 degrees that time of year. My mind was blown by the ancient treasures, smell of well-seasoned food and hum of chatter and music in the air. Best of all were the welcoming smiles from locals and tourists from around the world.

Each experience was moment begging to be captured on film.

Beyond merely enjoying the breathtaking scenery, history and majestic ruins, I wanted to connect with the ancients. I found myself trying to remember the details of Greek mythology and tragedies I studied in college.

So we walked the same streets as the playwright Sophocles, Plato the philosopher and even a visiting missionary, the apostle Paul. These historic figures are testament to this grand city, now more than 3,400 years old.

Instead of using a travel guide, we chose to craft a personal adventure. My husband and I created our own honeymoon "brochure," which included six unforgettable highlights.

Acropolis

An ancient citadel, visible from every corner of Athens. Standing high and proud, it's crowned by the Parthenon.

The Parthenon

A famous ancient temple, reached by climbing gravel roads and paths. It is most striking and visually vibrant by night, sparkling as the star of the city. No visit to Greece is considered complete without experiencing it. We were awestruck—and I had my camera to capture what I could never hope to put into words.

The Temple of Athena Lindia

Dating from the fourth century B.C., built on the site of an earlier temple and surrounded by a medieval castle. The waters of the Lindos Bay are as clear as the turquoise blue waters of nearby Tsambika beach.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Also a monument to soldiers killed in war. Tourists playfully attempt to disrupt the stoic Evzones, the elite presidential military guard unit.

Temple of Olympian Zeus

An imposing, dominant structure dedicated to the King of the Gods. Known as the largest temple in Greece, it has been in ruin since 3 A.D.—and is on everyone's Athens must-see list.

Theatre of Dionysus

Named after the god of wine and fertility and the patron of drama. Originally grass and a circular space with a dirt stage, even today, you can almost feel what it was like when the arena was filled with 17,000 members of Greece's elite society.

Even for the novice palette, Greek food is delightful. While olive oil is the universal ingredient in most dishes—as is pepper, oregano and lemon juice—also expect pasta, potatoes and rice.

While dining on fish and pork, I couldn't help but think of Detroit's Greektown eateries. To us, there was no discernible difference in taste, but in Greece, "authentic" seems better.

If eating is a given, shopping is a must. I discovered clothing from around the world and bought a few statues, including a brass statue of Alexander the Great on his horse-drawn chariot. And I bargained for a beautiful silver necklace, earrings and bracelet featuring the Greek symbol of eternal love. Since Greece's debt crisis and collapsed economy in 2009, it seems in merchants' best interest to offer deep discounts—and I took advantage of that.

I never expected Greece to be a shoe lover's paradise. However, by the time I'd made this discovery, we'd sadly reached our airline baggage limits.

Fortunately for tourists worldwide, we left Athens and her shopping districts as beautiful and awe-inspiring as when we arrived. When you have the pleasure of traveling there, be sure to tour, dine and shop, making your own travel brochure along the way.

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