Athens, Greece

First stop on the Greece mission ..

PLACES I'VE BEEN

8/15/20234 min read

Oh my 😍 where do I even start with Athens?

I arrived in the middle of the night with a planeload of people who, for the most part, turned out not to have any patience. Said patience was tested after our plane was over an hour late taking off from Istanbul due to excessive ground-traffic in Athens, then upon arrival, we were left waiting for almost an hour and a half for our bags to come to the carousel. Oops. Once upon a time, I may have been bothered too - especially if I was traveling with someone else that would have been displeased about the hold-ups, but now that I have absolutely no schedule, all the time-freedom I can handle, and a most excellent pair of headphones with which to listen to my perfectly curated playlists on Spotify, I was unbothered. So - to the taxi stand!

My driver was lovely and wanted to hear all about my adventures, as we drove the 35-40 minutes into the heart of the city, to my cute little 50's-style Airbnb. We had a little trouble locating the exact apartment - (for a self-check-in) - enter 'my person' for the day. So many people have just appeared out of nowhere while I have been traveling - often at times when I needed someone, without knowing it. I was to locate my apartment via some slightly sketchy directions, then find the lockbox outside on a railing, make my way to my unit in the dark, and unlocked a triple-locked door. It was all about to unravel when I wasn't even sure if I had landed at the right building, when an elderly man from a building across the little street, was outside at 1.30am watering the dust off his front steps. The Universe certainly works in mysterious ways! He spoke almost no English, but somehow managed to point me in the right direction, from step #1, through to getting inside my stay. Legend.

By 2am I had unpacked, had a nice hot shower, and was all tucked up in bed at Feels Like Home 2 Athens, Greece β€” book Apartment, 2023 Prices (athens-greecehotels.com) - yet another win in the accommodation stakes. All ready to take in some of the worlds' most historic sites, the next day.

I managed to tick off all the main historic must-sees in Athens, by means of the blue double-decker buses (which you purchase a 2-day ticket for, then can hop on and off as required), and a 2.5 hour cycle tour of the city, and of course a LOT of walking, as usual. Actually, the day I did the cycle tour, I also managed to clock up over 18,000 steps - so it was a big day!

I have soooo many pictures on my phone but have included some of the best ones below. I actually have mostly video footage - that I will reminisce over in the future - but I can't include those here as I have trouble uploading them. Annnnyway....

Athens in bullet points..

  • Absolute mind-blowing historical sites. It seems like half the world has visited these sites, and taken pictures, so none of my posts will come as anything new and may even bore some - but to experience it all first-hand and stand in the places where others stood thousands of years before, is impossible to describe.

  • The HEAT in Athens in August is also hard to describe. It's different again to the dry of Dubai or the humidity of Vietnam. It's just flat out hot. But I expected it and I'm actually learning to love it. Especially at night when you can still wander the streets in shorts and a light t-shirt or dress.

  • The FOOD. I will be spending a reasonable amount of time in various places in Greece, and at this point, I have serious concerns about my ability to exercise the willpower necessary to maintain the weight-loss I have worked so hard to achieve πŸ˜• .. luckily there are hills everywhere, to walk it off!

  • Graffiti. More than anywhere I have seen. Some is artful, some not so much. I did hear from a Canadian tourist that it is much worse in France?.

  • The haves and the have nots.. while exploring the city, I definitely saw both. While walking to the Archaeology Museum early the first morning, I passed a row of homeless people sheltering under the cover of one of the many abandoned shopfronts. They were up early too - and I noticed two of them sparking up their little glass crack-pipes. Call me green but I've not witnessed that first-hand before, and it was a sad sight. Then to the 'haves'. Welcome to Europe. The men are suave - dressed in smart collared shirts, linen pants and boat shoes - with slick hair and olive skin. The ladies are gorgeous - with long dark hair, perfectly applied make-up, and beautifully dressed. They're all sporting my dream tans, and despite the fact their favourite pastime seems to be to languish under shady olive, oak, or carob trees in little lanes, dining out on delicious Greek delicacies, most of them seem slim and stunning.

  • Tourists. All here for the same reasons as I am. THOUSANDS of us. I think most of them followed me all at once to the Acropolis.

  • Recovering from bankruptcy. This is also evident. Luckily the past few years have seen economic recovery for Greece, but I expect it will take many more tourist dollars, and more private consumption, before this historic city is at its' aesthetic best.

For my next stop in Greece, I've booked a few days in Mykonos, which means catching a ferry from the port in Piraeus. With an early sailing, and to avoid any stress in a taxi in the Monday morning traffic, I chose to stay in a hotel just a couple of minutes in the car from the ferry terminal. It was a great way to see another part of the city - and for dinner I stumbled upon a little resto with tables on the cobbled sidewalk, where I was treated to the most divine dish of fresh sea bass with the crispiest skin, served over 'vegetable pasta' - (it was actually raw carrot and zuchinni, grated into spirals and pickled in a vinaigrette - pic below) OMG.. if that was sample of the fresh seafood I can expect on the islands, I'm going to be in foodie heaven!

Feast your eyes ...

Ancient Athens...

Sights in the Streets ...