Outdoors and indoors with the kids

I recently discovered two great outings for the kids, one outdoors and one indoors. Perfect for fall when one can never be sure what the weather will bring. Until fairly recently the thermometer was still topping 90 in the afternoon, but last week we got a healthy dose of fall, so Violet and I decided to meet some friends for a stroll around National Garden.

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The National Garden, located in the city center near the Temple of Zeus, is a relatively recent addition to the Athenian landscape. Built in 1840, it originally contained 500 species of plants, but due to the dry climate, many of those original species died off. Though it’s a nice oasis from the hustle and bustle of the city, like many things in the city, it was a bit down-trodden in places. The kids delighted in the little caged animals — birds, ducks, chickens, turtles and the like.

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But while I can assume that the bridge overlooking the pond was once picturesque, the shallow, scummy water was hardly inviting for any ducks…or humans. (Though I was told in the summer that Greek mothers will sometimes encourage their children to swim there. Ick.) Perhaps there was another larger, more well-kept pond somewhere in the garden. We let the children lead the way, so we missed a lot of the garden’s features. What we did stumble on was a very well-maintained and spacious playground, and the girls had a fantastic time there.

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National Garden may not hold a candle to Central Park, but if you’re looking for a safe spot in the city to let your toddlers roam free, this is the ticket.

Today, Columbus Day, James and I decided to take Violet out for a day at the Playmobil FunPark in Kifissia, about 20 minutes north of our house. What a delightful little play space for youngsters! Admission for the three of us was 8 Euros — perhaps a little steep, but there were so many toys set up all around, we thought it was worth it. Violet was entertained all the way to nap time.

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There were zoo animals, farms, castles, Roman gallies, Egyptian pyramids, tree houses, princess castles, swimming pools, and even the Ecto 1 and firehouse from Ghostbusters. There were space shuttles, planes, trains, little doll houses, and so much more. We grabbed a sandwich in the cafe at lunch, and Violet had her own little toddler-sized table to eat on. We practically had the place to ourselves, and we wished we could have brought Liam with us.

And, of course, there was a huge gift shop. Violet picked out a little fairy action figure and a doll house set with a bathtub, and we got little figure playing electric guitar and a hot dog cart with Slimer from Ghostbusters for Liam. Needless to say we’ll be going back there with Liam on his next day off from school. (I imagine the place is mobbed on the weekend, and that is definitely NOT Liam’s scene. Maybe over Thanksgiving, when the American school is off, but the Greek schools are not.)

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