It’s taken me a few days to sit down and finally write this post. I’ve determined that I’m in denial that the trip is actually over and thus have been avoiding closing the book.
After breakfast at the hotel, we hopped on the hotel’s shuttle to the airport. The airport was three rooms and had only 6 “gates” which were separated into international and domestic flights. There was barely enough room for one plane’s worth of passengers in the waiting room for three gates. We finally boarded a very small plane that I truly believe to be smaller than the private plane I had once flown on. The plane ride was only 30 minutes along and we were in Athens! After a fairly long taxi ride, we arrived at our Air BnB. Driving through Athens, a lot of things are very heavily graffitied and run down. I was a bit discouraged that such a historic city was overcome by these things, but I truly believe that things are looking up after the economic crisis of a decade ago. Moving on… Our Air BnB was incredible and had a beautiful view of the Acropolis and Temple of Olympian Zeus. We were within walking distance of just about every historical site and our host sat down to map everything out for us. After settling in, we were hungry and so we walked around the corner to a traditional Greek restaurant that our host had recommended to us. The food was incredible and SO CHEAP. In comparison to food and alcohol in Mykonos, I felt like we were stealing food from these restaurants. Then, we stopped at the bakery next door and ~wow~ it was so good and cheap. I think we stopped at this bakery six times over three days (I will add the name of the restaurant and bakery). After dinner, we walked up to catch the cable car to the top of Mount Lycabettus. On the half hour walk to the bottom of the hill, we stopped by the Panathenaic Stadium. This Olympic stadium is made entirely of marble, was initially built in 6th century BC, and has hosted multiple Olympic games. The view from the top of Mount Lycabettus (shown at the top of the post) was incredible. I was absolutely amazed by the sheer size of the city. The white buildings of Athens fill everything in sight.
And on the second day, we tourist! After snagging donuts from our favorite bakery, we headed to see the sights of ancient Greece. First up was the Temple of Olympian Zeus, which just happened to be across the street from our Air BnB. Most of the temple is destroyed with only a few columns standing tall. What frustrated me was the fact that there was 1) no signs to educate people on the history of the temple and 2) the area around the temple (where visitors walk) was unkept and full of grassy gravel. Maybe I’m picky but for the price of admission, I think some signs and a paved pathway would go a long way. As far as admission goes, we purchased the 30€ package that includes entrance to 99% of the sights in the city. Also, the line for purchasing this ticket package is non-existent at the Temple of Olympian Zeus and very long at the Acropolis. We headed to the Acropolis and began the steep hike up to the Parthenon and what a hike it was. The Acropolis was incredibly busy. People everywhere, like Colosseum in Rome bad. Something that I didn’t know was that there are more ruins on top of the hill aside from the Parthenon (the Temple of Athena Nike caught my eye). Side note: there is a ton of marble on the stairs, and well everywhere, so it is very easy to slip and fall. After the Acropolis, we found air-conditioned refuge in the Acropolis Museum, which was very well done and had a lot of interesting pieces.
We grabbed lunch and headed over to watch the changing of the guards at Parliament. It’s a rather quick exchange, but very neat to see the soldiers in traditional Grecian dress. The changing of the guards happens every hour on the hour. One of the things I was most excited for in Athens was shopping around the neighborhood of Plaka. Plaka did not disappoint. It was an adorable neighborhood filled with little shops and restaurants. We walked through the National Garden on our way home to regroup before dinner. As per recommended by our Air BnB host, we had dinner at Colibri – a place by our apartment that had “the best burgers in Athens.” Naturally, I had pizza that was arguably better than the pizza I ate in Rome.
After a Nutella pancake-filled breakfast, we took the Tram (line 5) to the end of the line. From there, we hailed a taxi to the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion. We were told that the Temple was much closer to the end of the tram line than it actually was. However, the drive was pretty incredible. The drive runs along the coast with twist and turns and cliffs all the way. The temple itself was rather underwhelming….. The picture above shows the Temple of Poseidon in all of its glory, again there was a lack of signage. There is a restaurant at the site, but other than that, its pretty much in the middle of nowhere. We took a taxi back to the end of the tram line and began our journey back. Having noticed a ton of cute little towns on the ride to the temple, we decided to jump out and grab lunch at one of them. The streets were lined with cafes, restaurants, and great shops. The stop we chose to jump out at was Platia Vaso Katraki. We ate at La Pasteria where I fulfilled a life-long dream of mine. I had pasta prepared at my table inside the largest wheel of parmesan cheese that I have ever imagined. I cried. I’m okay admitting that. We chose to relax for the rest of the night as I had to head to the airport at 3 am.
And that concludes my three-part saga on my trip to Greece…