Birthplace of democracy, arts, science and philosophy of western civilization.
I finally made it!
Another dream destination seen with my own eyes.
Athens, much like my Barcelona Adventure, was a ‘bookend’ adventure. Crete was my main destination for this adventure. However, transportation and logistic-wise, it was easier and cheaper to fly to Athens and spend a weekend before catching a flight to Heraklion, Crete.
Okay, watching My Life in Ruins a dozen times also inspired me to visit Athens. Lovely movie.
For approximately €150, luggage included, I enjoyed a nice roundtrip, first-class flight. Is it me, or is there something about eating a nice hot meal with actual silverware?
The fresh squeezed OJ wasn’t bad either. The baked egg and mustard dish wasn’t too my liking, but the fresh croissant, meats and cheeses were scrumptious.
No hiccups upon arrival. Luggage delivered safely to baggage claim and I found my pre-paid taxi waiting for me.
PHILIA BOUTIQUE HOTEL
I must say, my stay at Philia Boutique Hotel was relaxing and refreshing. Customer service was exceptional and the hotel.
My room, the Superior Double Room City View with balcony, was spacious with essential amenities provided such as soap, towels, a bottle of water, etc. There was wear and tear in certain areas, but nothing to get upset about. The bathroom was an adequate size. The shower was big enough to turn around in and water did not leak everywhere.
I loved the hardwood floors. I think hotels should ditch carpet entirely. Hardwood floors may not be the most attractive, but I feel they are cleaner. I hate walking into a hotel room and seeing carpet stains everywhere. Ughh!
Back to my lodgings.
Breakfast was delivered to my room – no extra charge. Must say it was scrumdiddlyumptious! I also love that I was able to pick the time breakfast was delivered so as not to be disturbed or have to wake up extra early and head to the restaurant for food.
Everyone should take time for a coffee, or tea in my case.
The hotel’s location is surrounded by a host of eateries, and is a five-minute walk to the Monastiraki Flea Market. The metro station is about a seven-minute walk, from where you can reach different areas of Athens.
The only snafu was the taxi arrangement on my departure date, but even that was handled with speed and kindness.
VARABA COUNTRY HOUSE
The Varaba Country House served as my lodgings for my second weekend in Athens.
If looking for a ‘last night in Athens party spot’ this hotel wouldn’t suit you. Like the name says – it’s in the country. It’s close to the airport, but away from major city aspects like stores and other landmarks.
I selected this hotel because I had a very early morning flight, and this hotel was approximately 20-minutes to the airport. The hotel was perfect — a quiet spot to relax before flying out of Athens.
In essence, this is a hotel to unwind and prepare for the headaches of airline travel. Dinner was nice, tasty and scrumptious. Hotel staff were pleasant and professional. Communication is key, so ensure to check your emails for check-in procedures and taxi information.
My ‘suite’ – Classic Suite 2 – was cleaned and amenities provided upon arrival. The room was larger than I needed, complete with a king-size double bed, and two single antique metal beds in the loft. It also has an outdoor patio with lovely views of pistachio trees — relaxing with a hot cup of tea here was marvelous. Wi-Fi worked great. Bathroom was large enough to enter and exit without bumping body parts. Bed was quite comfortable. The €65 price for my one-night stay was reasonable.
Dinner was included. The Greek Salad was refreshing, and the lasagna-type pasta was hot and flavorful.
The fire in the fireplace added to the ambience.
ACROPOLIS OF ATHENS
What a moment of joy visiting a site on my travel bucket list.
The Acropolis of Athens is one of the most important symbols of our civilization. Built to honor the goddess Athena, it dominates the sky, as it looms over the modern metropolis. One of the most important monuments, not only in Greece, but the world.
The Acropolis, which means “high city” in Greek, was once known as Cecropia from its legendary founder, Cecrops, the first Athenian king. The Acropolis houses the most famous landmarks of Greece: the Parthenon, the Erechtheion and the Temple of Athena Nike.
A steep climb to the top, but worth the view.
It can be very dangerous climbing the steep incline, so not recommended for those with mobility issues.
Also, check the weather. The climb is very slippery when wet, so if it’s forecasted to rain the day you want to visit, pick another day. Safety always!
The €22 entrance fee doesn’t matter when you reach the top and view the world from the historic citadel.
For people saying it was crowded – well DUH!!
What did you expect for an ancient landmark, a private tour? If that’s what you want – pay the money and book it.
I pre-booked my ticket from the official website. I researched the third-party sites, but decided to stick with the official site. The third-party sites offered a small-group tour starting at €84 (per person), which included entrance to the Acropolis Museum.
Let’s do a little math:
Acropolis of Athens: €22, which includes access to the Acropolis, Parthenon, Propylaea Erechtheion, Theatre of Dionysus, Temple of Athena Nike
Acropolis Museum: €18
That’s a total of €40 per person, which is more than 50 percent cheaper than a ‘guided’ tour.
Of course, this price is if you’re doing a self-guided exploration of Athens. If you’re on an escorted tour of Greece, I’m sure the Acropolis is included in the overall price of the entire adventure.
Back to my adventure
The ticket lady was very rude when I went to pick up my pre-booked ticket. I had trouble receiving the e-ticket on my phone. Nevertheless, I refused to let her rudeness spoil my experience.
For all the one-star reviewers upset about the scaffolding — it’s no secret work is being done to preserve the landmarks. Complaining about it is really a waste of words.
Traveler’s Note: Consider not doing any leg exercises the day prior to your visit. Trust me, the hike to the top will have your legs burning for a day or two.
Of course, getting up close to many of the temples is heavily restricted. Too many idiots disrespecting history and desecrating the landmarks.
The Parthenon dates from the 5th century BC and is a temple dedicated to Athena. It was built in thanksgiving for the Hellenic victory over Persian Empire invaders during the Greco-Persian Wars.
Ignore the scaffolding and marvel at the beauty. And there’s no photoshopping on the photo below, just a wondrous moment captured for eternity.
#DidYouKnow: Although the Parthenon is blindingly white today, it wasn’t always? Traces of paint found on its sculptures and descriptions in ancient texts suggest the temple was once vividly decorated in colors such as blue, red, and gold.
The Temple of Athena Polias, or The Erechtheion was made to house the statue of Athena Polias.
What an interesting landmark.
The Erechtheion’s best-known feature is the south porch. The roof is supported by the heads of six Korai statues – the famous Karyatids.
Five of them are now in the Acropolis Museum, displayed on a special balcony and visible from all sides, while the position of the sixth Kore, still held in the British Museum, has been left empty.
The Propylaia is the monumental gateway to the Acropolis sanctuary. The building features a central entrance and two lateral wings.
I didn’t pay much attention to this building because the Parthenon dominates your view from the moment you ascend to the top.
DREAM COME TRUE
What a beautiful adventure. Yes my legs screamed at me for the next two days, but the views and the memories were so worth it. So was the €7 frozen strawberry-lemonade after my descent.
My advice – when in Athens, ignore the distractors and climb to the top of the city.
Then just take a moment and marvel at the world around you.
Trust me, this is a great reminder that the world isn’t as bad as television, movies and social media make it sound.
We need this reminder every now and again.
I spent my final day in Athens doing what most visitors do – shopping!
My hotel, Philia Boutique Hotel, was located in Monastiraki, one of the principal shopping districts in Athens.
Old and new Athens converge in Monastiraki, which is named after a monastic compound that once occupied the site. Today, all that’s left is the small 10th-century Pantanassa basilica on the square.
The shopping square reminds me of a Grand Bazaar, rather than a flea market. For the most part, the shops sold the same items you’d find in typical souvenir shops.
Oh, and if you’ve read my Packing Insanity entry, you’ll know that for many of my international trips, I have made very good use of my one free checked luggage allowance for two important reasons:
- It allows me to pack bulky items and liquids I need that I can’t pack in my carry-on, like my special hair oil, prescription cough medicine and that winter coat my mom makes me pack, lol.
- Since most airlines allow you one piece of checked luggage on an international flight, shipping souvenirs home is almost worry-free.
Yeah, I might have went a bit overboard with the souvenirs. LOL
I found the Snail soap curious. Plus, the Donkey Milk soap amused my friends and coworkers.
ZISIS, FISH IN A CONE
Athens has many good restaurants. The one that stood out for me was Zisis, Fish in a Cone. This place intrigued me. Plus, I wanted some seafood, and thought it’ll be fun to have some ‘Fish in a Cone.’
Food was edible, though a little salty. Customer service was nice and polite. Prices ranged from €4 to €9. Not a bad restaurant and somewhere I’d visit again for a nice snack.
Athens is definitely a city that mixes history with the contemporary very well. If you ignore the graffiti that seems to be on every building, you’ll most certainly find peace and tranquility.
Give yourself more than a weekend to truly explore. I did myself a disservice only spending two full days in this city. I’m planning to spend more time exploring this city on my next Greek Adventure.