It was a long ferry ride to get to Athens from Santorini. The competition for obtaining a couch to lie down on during the journey is quite ferocious requiring an almost chessboard focus with the other passengers. Eight hours is a long time on a boat. Sleeping I find passes the time quite nicely. I arrived after midnight in Athens and ended up taking a taxi to my hostel feeling unsafe to walk that late at night.
The next morning I started with the hostel’s walking tour lead by a rather funny Australian. He took us to see things like the Temple of Zeus, a marble stadium and the Presidential guards with their funny pom-pom shoes.
One of the many many temples
It was getting rather hot and sweaty by the time the tour finished high up on the Acropolis. I had to go hide in my air-conditioned hostel room to recover for a while.
The famous Parthenon on top of the Acropolis in the centre of the city
I emerged later that evening once the air cooled down to go watch an outdoor movie by the Acropolis with some lovely Irish folks I met during the tour, and went to bed happy late that night.
The next morning I decided to go walk to another landmark easily seen from anywhere within the city – Mount Lycabettus. The highest point within Athens city at 277 metres above sea level, I thought it would be a good challenge.
As seen from the Parthenon later that day
To get to Mount Lycabettus, I took the scenic route through the National Garden. It is worth noting that as big and intimidating as it looks, it is definitely climable even for beginners. As long as you don’t mind a bit of sweat. You can take the metro most to the bottom rather than walking the whole way like I did. The hard part was choosing to tackle the challenge.
A tortoise posing for me in a pond
An unusual but pretty flower
It was a long sweaty climb but eventually I made it to the top! A church and over-priced restaurant are located at the top. And a sense of satisfaction.
See the dog in the first photo?
The view. It’s hard to see but the Parthenon is there in the distance. It is the second highest point in the city
After the appropriate air-conditioned rest and shower back in my hostel, I again emerged to this time go visit the Acropolis Museum. This museum was AMAZING. It is an archaeological museum all about the history of the Parthenon. I would highly recommend it. It’s one of those rare museums that are very modern and well designed. The displays set out in an interesting and engaging manner. My favourite kind of museum. I went to the Parthenon right after finishing the museum feeling well informed, and found the actual Parthenon site less exciting than the museum. Huh.
Image from moreaedesign.wordpress.com
The only photo I remembered to take of the museum. I was too busy being fascinated to remember my camera. It is built over top of some ruins in a way that shelters and preserves them.
The Parthenon itself. Covered in scaffolding as usual due to the city of Athens slowly rebuilding it
There were almost no signs about the history or anything around the site. Just the temple to Athena itself
It gets very crowded with tourists being the most visited attraction in Athens
Other things I achieved that day included wandering about the flea market area of Athens called Monastiraki and viewing a couple of other temples. And eating some Greek yoghurt.
Fresko, my new favourite yoghurt bar near Plaka
The next couple of days I actually spent in North Central Greece. But then I looped back to Athens for the final part of my Greece trip and continued the sight-seeing.
In Athen’s first cemetery are some very beautiful and elaborately craved graves
Interestingly I learned that you can only be buried in this graveyard for three years. The remains are then moved to an ossuary so the next person can have a turn. Unless you have a mausoleum. Then I guess you get to stay forever. It is considered one of the most beautiful graveyards in Europe. And yes I know it’s strange to hang out with dead people!
For the afternoon and evening, I did a wee trip out to the most southern point of Attica to watch the sunset at Poseiden’s temple with the Singaporean friend I originally met in Santorini. The bus leaves every hour to get out to Sounion for about €6 each way. It’s quite isolated on the point but does have a restaurant and some beaches to help occupy time until the sunset.
The water was so warm
The Temple of Poseidon
Stunning views. This was my last Greece sunset.
I met up with an old kiwi workmate the next morning. It’s always so great to see a familiar face and hear that kiwi twang. Made me feel a little homesick. But all too quickly our coffee date was up and it was time for me to race to the airport.
Where I stayed (first time): Athens Backpackers / Studio
Price: €22 per night in a 6 bed dorm
Overall: Great hostel. Very new, modern and clean with an amazing location right next to the Acropolis. It’s run by Australians with a rooftop (with cheap cocktails) and sports bar. The hostel cafe had cheap delicious food and was rated as a top place to eat in Athens by TripAdvisor. I really liked this hostel. The only reason I didn’t stay for the second part of my visit was the price. It went up to €26 per night for my return dates which was sadly just too far out of my budget when there were much cheaper hostels available.
Where I stayed (second time): Cosmopolit Hotel
Price: €16 per night in a four bed dorm
Overall: Definitely a step down from the first hostel. It was located much further away from the centre, and right next to a strip club. Hm charming! But it was clean and comfortable. A place to sleep.