Travel Diaries: Athens

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Athens as seen from the Acropolis

Kalimera!  

Oh how I loved hearing this vivacious greeting each morning in beautiful Greece, where the food is divine, the weather wonderfully Mediterranean, and the people relaxed and laid-back.

As we drove from the airport into the city of Athens, I couldn’t help but notice and the hills and abundance of olive and fruit trees.  Bright and breezy and oh so warm.  It was like watching the scenery from the movie adaptation of ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ but without the crappy acting.

Athens

  • Around a third of all Greek people live in Athens, and it certainly feels busy and congested like most major global cities.  Not surprising, given all the significant historical sites spread around the city.
  • There are literally hundreds of historical sites to visit and not enough time to see them all in a quick visit!  I ventured up the hill to view the Acropolis and all its ancient monuments. The walk is easier than it looks and the view from the top is breath-taking, with views of wider Athens, and out into the sea. It cost me €20 to enter the site and it was worth every cent. You can also buy a multi-pass which also allows you to visit multiple ancient sites across the city too.
  • My partner and friend visited the mighty Acropolis Museum, featuring many of the precious artefacts housed in the surrounding area.  Tickets must be reserved online due to the high number of visitors.
  • Go back in time in the Plaka.  Located close to the Acropolis, The Plaka is the oldest section of Athens and many streets are pedestrianised.  The streets are teeming with shops, stalls and eateries and the streets are mostly cobbled and covered in stone and marble.  I also spied a few rooftop cinemas that look out towards the Acropolis too. Best ventured at night, the Plaka feels like an old quaint village and even more so when musicians are serenading on the streets.  There is also a bustling fleamarket, so it’s great if you want to get souvenirs, scarves, cotton and linen shirts or anything else that tickles your holiday fancy.
  • Food glorious food!  There are very few Greek options in New Zealand, so it was so liberating to see a plethora of authentic Greek eateries.  I ate moussaka, gyros kebabs, souvlaki, tzatziki, spanakopita, keftedkia, saganaki… all priced reasonably too.
  • The effects of the GFC are still apparent in Athens.  Old Historic sites, sit alongside dilapidated buildings covered in graffiti and dust.  With so much charm, you can’t help but root for Athens to assert its former glory again.

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Athens in 5 words…

Surreal, grungy, historic, delicious, sunny. 

 

 

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