My weekend started off a little hectic, thanks to the fun group of Americans who insisted on showing me a good time the night before (I believe their exact words were “You can sleep when you’re dead”). So after 30 minutes of sleep and completely forgetting to set an alarm for my 6:30am flight, an act of God woke me up at 5:15am and I started throwing everything I could think of into my backpack (because packing ahead of time really just isn’t as exciting as procrastinating until the absolute last minute) and then I bolted out of my building to catch a cab to the airport.
Good news: I made it! (Obviously, otherwise there would be no blog post)
Bad news: I forgot just as much as I remembered AKA my glasses, phone charger, hair ties (I learned the hard way that these are necessary in the Athens heat), sunglasses, and a few articles of important clothing (think items you wear under your clothes…). Have I already proved that every getaway is an adventure with me?
My travel buddy, Kiran, a fellow expat interning in Thess, and I decided to start our Athens adventure in the obvious place: The Acropolis.
The Acropolis of Athens is actually the first large monument that was NOT constructed by slaves (think the Pyramids of Giza, the Colosseum, etc). Perched at the top of Athens, it is quite a glorious site to behold from wherever you are in the city, especially at night. We took our time meandering up the hill past the fallen columns, temples, and ancient theaters (one of which is restored and still is used!). We took the long way up the monument, which was nice because it really built up the anticipation to get to the top where the famed Parthenon stands in all of its beauty!
Tip for visiting the Parthenon: WEAR RUBBER SOLED SHOES AND BE SO CAREFUL. From the hundreds of thousands of tourists that visit the monument every year, the marble stairs have been worn smooth and are extremely slipper. Even with proper shoes on, I still came home with a bruised butt…
When visiting, after making it to the top, make sure to spend some time really taking in the city below you. Athens seems to glitter in the summer sun and it can only be understood if you are looking down at the metropolis for yourself. After touring the Acropolis, make sure not to pass up the impressive Acropolis Museum! There you can find statues, marbles, and other artifacts taken out of the Parthenon to be protected from the elements. These have been restored and are really interesting to see as you wander through the rooms.
While the Parthenon was impressive, I think my favorite part about Athens was walking through Monastraki Square and the famous flea market there! While the items I wanted to purchase were things I couldn’t take home (giant paintings, a really great living room chair, a dresser) I was still very happy to walk through. Plus people watching is another favorite pass time of mine.
After the flea market, we had a little while to grab a late lunch and cocktail at a bar that had been recommended to us by four people prior to leaving for Athens. 360 Degrees is a bar right in Monastraki Square and after a short hike up three stories we were greeted by the most beautiful view of the city.
As a ending note: after lunch we watched the changing of the guard in front of the Parliament building then sat drinking coffee for half an hour in Syntagma Square before leaving to catch the metro to the airport. The next day, I heard that not even two hours after we left, there had been a huge violent riot in that square. So just be careful when traveling there–especially at this time….