Boarded the train to Larissa and then onto Athens. After falling asleep countless times on the train, I awoke in the capital of Greece. My first impressions?
Athens stinks, literally, everywhere smells of urine. The city reminds me of Rome; due to all the old stuff, and Paris; due to the smell and the thousands of people crammed within. I make it my hostel to find out I’ve been moved to another building, really not impressed with this city so far. I did head down to the local sports bar in the evening so that slightly made up for the days events.
The next morning I emailed a company about participation on their free walking tour but it took 3 emails to get any worthwhile information out of them, so I passed on that and instead took part in a walking tour through the hostel. As it turns out there was only 3 of us who were joining in the hostel tour so it was a lot more personal. We got to see the changing of the guard, try a Greek sour orange, hear about a killer ape, and visit important sites such as the Olympic stadium, the main Orthodox Church, and finally stopped on a rock for an incredible viewpoint of the Acropolis. After the tour, the four of us even went for a spot of traditional Greek food before I headed back to the hostel for a siesta (not sure if they do that in Greece but I highly recommend it). A few hours later, I decided to head to the local sports bar and join in a pub/trivia/quiz night. We came second by one point, but the victors were very gracious and shared some of the winnings; beer.
I haven’t attached any photos to this post as there are just way too many but if you visit the Facebook Page I will be uploading them there instead.
I may have gone to bed at 4am but I was up and about at 8am, ready to start my day early. I knew I had to be at the Acropolis before the tour groups arrived and I was successful. At 8.30 I was walking around the Acropolis compound and it was virtually empty so I got to see all the sights there with as little others as possible. I walked around the base first before heading up the slope to get to the attraction itself; it’s on the top of the Athina Rock that the Parthenon, Temple of Augustus and Rome and the Nike Temple are all located. 2 hours after entering I saw a herd of cruise tourists parading in and knew I had to leave. The municipality of Athens offer two tickets to see the Acropolis; a €20 which just grants entrance to the site or a €30 which provides access to another 6 archaeological digs. I went for the latter mainly because I had all day and second, as they all offered different features.
After visiting the Acropolis, the first archaeological dig I went to was the Roman Agora. It’s an old marketplace that would’ve sold mostly anything, even animals. Just behind the Agora is the old site of Hadrian’s library, which is pretty self explanatory. I then went to the Ancient Agora, which houses a museum with loads of pottery finds and an almost intact Temple of Hephaistos. I actually found this temple more impressive than the Parthenon, mainly due to the lack of intrusive construction work. A good walk away was my final destination for the day; Archaeological site of Kerameikos. It’s the remains of tombs, classical houses and a waterway. After this I walked through an area of street art before making my way back to the hostel. I did get lost on my way back and end up in a massive park but was able to see the tomb of Kimon and Socrates’ prison. At about 4pm, I retired to my hostel for a nap.
I didn’t go out that last night as I thought I’d get an early night to catch the first train out but unfortunately I still missed it. Luckily there was another later in the day so that gave me time to wander around the city. I went to the two remaining sites on my pass; Temple of Olympian Zeus and Aristotle’s Lyceum.
After finally visiting everything, and getting my money’s worth, I walked around the Flea Market and the shopping area of Plaka. These were very busy, even on a Wednesday morning so after getting thoroughly lost, I somehow found my way back to the hostel. I collected my things, had one last necessary beer and started walking to the train station. I boarded the next train to Trikala, a town just outside the Holy Meteora.
In conclusion, even though I was hesitant about visiting Athens, I’m glad I did as it was a good time. But now it’s onward, so goodbye Athens; you’re too big, too busy, too expensive, and too smelly.
Based on a recommendation from a friend I decided to stay at Athens Backpackers but their “system” moved me to Athens Studios This is not a very good hostel, no common area and feels more a hotel. The only redeeming factor is the sports bar downstairs. Wouldn’t stay here again.