September 28, 2013
After two and a half weeks of traveling, Athens was my last stop. Once I arrived in Athens, I only had 24 hours in the ancient city and wanted to see everything. Was 24 hours enough? Well, in short, yes, especially if you’d rather spend more time on the islands.
Its takes about 50 mins from the airport to get to the center of the city – a taxi costs between 40 to 50 euros depending on the time of day or the express bus (x95) costs 5 euros. I immediately dropped my bags off at Electra Hotel located in Syntagma Square and jumped on one of those hop on & off double deck tour buses with my cousin and his girlfriend. P.S. I don’t recommend taking one of those. All of the historical sites in Athens are so close together, you really could just walk or take the Happy Train.
First stop, The Acropolis. After years of Greek Mythology classes, you’d think I would be able to remember everything but I’ll fully admit I needed a history lesson refresher along the way. The Acropolis is actually the “highest point in a city,” but in Athens, The Acropolis means much more than that – it, the Parthenon in particular, is probably one of the most important monuments of Greek civilization as it symbolizes the beginning of the Western civilization.
After an hour of touring the ancient ruins, we headed to the Panathenaic Staidum – where the first modern Olympics were held in 1896. I couldn’t believe that I was actually standing in one of the oldest stadiums in the world! Its made entirely of white marble and was reconstructed from the remains of an ancient Greek stadium. I ran track way back in the day, so it was a cool feeling to “run” the track. Walking through the tunnel was also impressive and beautiful! At the end of the tunnel was the museum of Olympic torches – from all years all around the world! I had never been this close to the Olympics before.
I spent the afternoon on my own walking around Plaka, a neighborhood just below the Acropolis. Aside from being immersed in ancient Greek history earlier that day, I really liked exploring Plaka because it felt like a little island village within a big city. Walking aimlessly around a city is probably one of my favorite things to do while visiting a foreign country. You never know what you’re going to discover, who you’re going to meet, or where you will end up – it’s always an adventure! It’s also a little nostalgic for me. When I was 12 and living in abroad, I would always walk around by myself while my dad was at work. So its a calm and familiar feeling.
As I walked through Plaka and off the main roads through the narrow back streets, I was surprised to see the amount of graffiti on the walls. While the area felt like a village community, the graffiti reminded me that I was still in a major city. I did happen to stumble upon a family owned restaurant, Σχολαρχείο or Scholarhio. Per my usual, I stopped for an afternoon cafe. I also ended up going back to the same place for dinner because the food was great and it was just the perfect spot to journal with an upstairs terrace.
After dinner, I met my cousin at Cinema Paris and we watched Blue Jasmine. Watching a movie outdoors with a view Acropolis Hill to my left was an experience and something to remember. At the time, I couldn’t believe I was in Athens and that I had just spent over two weeks traveling through Greece!
I definitely learned a few things on this trip…
- While I do miss traveling with a companion, I do enjoy being a solo traveler.
- Choose your travel partner wisely and remember to make time for yourself – self reflection is important, especially when you’re removed from your normal life.
- Anything can happen, so embrace what life throws at you.
- No matter what precautionary measures you take, you are not immune to illness. Bring back up meds – including antibiotics that you are NOT allergic to!
- Family is family and actions speak louder than words. Showing someone you care means so much more then just telling them.
Well, farewell to my delicious Greek salads, favorite Kaimaki falvored ice cream, strong frappes….for now. I will definitely go back to Greece again and hopefully soon. I do have extended family there now!