Friday, May 26
We flew in from Malta and landed in the middle of the afternoon. It was a bright, sunny day and the temperature was perfect. Since we were flying to another EU country, we simply walked through the airport and got on a train to the city. After catching a connecting train, we walked a block to our first hostel. Tim and I checked in, got settled and went out to see some of the city. Our trip to Athens was kind of in two parts as we took a 2 day excursion starting the next day.
But anyway, we headed out towards the National Archaeological Museum, which was about a 10 minute walk away. One thing I noticed (it was hard not to) was that every possible surface was covered in graffiti. Everything. Phone booths, street signs, building walls & columns, trees, lights. Everything. I’m not sure if it was because of the part of town we were in or what, but it seemed a bit trashy. Oh well.
We arrived at the archeological museum and took a stroll around. The museum was divided into sections based on the ruling group of the time. It was pretty interesting reading about how some of the artifacts came to be. There was also a massive section dedicated to vases and pottery that left Tim and I wondering how practical some of the vases seemed to be. We kept our questions to ourselves and headed out the door to find some food.
We stopped at a restaurant a little ways down the road where we both ordered burgers. The dish came out as two paddies, and they were delicious- the best one I’ve had in awhile. After paying, we walked outside and down some of the main roads in Athens. We could see the Acropolis in the distance, but we weren’t heading there today. As it was getting late, we headed back to the hostel to get some rest.
The following day we were up early and treked to the train station to head to Meteora, Greece. It was a 6 hour train ride, so we settled in and got some rest before our days adventures.
Monday, June 29
Tim and I did not get much sleep due to our travel delays returning in the early morning hours from Meteora, so our first full day in Athens got off to a sleepy start. We eventually got up and out the door around 8:45, and set off for the Acropolis. Thankfully our hostel was close to the Acropolis, so we did not have a long walk to get there. We stopped at a fruit stand on the way to grab some bananas for breakfast and ate them as we walked to our first stop, the Agora.
Tim and I went to a ticket booth to buy a pass for all of the Athens monument fees and thankfully there was not a line. We presented our student IDs, but the lady working did not accept them as they did not have an valid expiration date on them. Thinking that she may not have read my card correctly, I explained that the date on my card was an issue date. She called another worker over and showed her our IDs. She too said that the cards needed an expiration date on them. Normally I would drop it, but I was not thrilled at just forking over an extra 30 euros if I didn’t have to. I calmly explained that schools wouldn’t put an expiration date on student ID cards as plenty go on for different amounts of time than just four years. She clearly was not having any of it. After a couple more pitches, she clearly wasn’t going to change her decision. I reluctantly paid the full price, but made it clear I disagreed with their policy.
Top right: Theater of Dionysus
Bottom right: the Agora
The Agora was kind of neat, but there wasn’t much to see. We then walked over to the Acropolis and headed in. There were tons and tons of people there, so we went off to the right towards two theatres. Our vantage point offered a great view of the two theatres as well as the surrounding city with the water in the distance. Tim and I snapped a few photos, then backtracked to go up by the Parthenon. It was really neat walking around something so iconic and picturesque. Currently, they are rebuilding part of the Parthenon, so there was some heavy equipment around the site. Tim and I stopped for a little bit to take in the view and rest our feet.
We then walked to the far side of the Acropolis and looked out towards the mountains past the city. Tim and I made our way down the steps and out of the Acropolis area to a nearby hill. It was a nice, easy hike up the hill. It was very windy once we arrived at the top. From here, we were able to see the ports on the ocean a bit better. There was also a superhighway of ants at the top that was very intrigueing. They were carrying twigs and getting blown around by the high winds. Honestly it was entertaining to watch. After finishing up watching the ants get tossed around, Tim and I made our way back down the hill to find something to eat. We got lunch at a little place just past the Acropolis and relaxed for a little bit.
After finishing up lunch, went to the Acropolis Museum, which I found to be very interesting. They had on display many of the original blocks from the Parthenon as well as other structures from the surrounding area. An additional feature that was intriguing was that the building was build slightly above ground so as to not destroy the ruins below it.
We left the museum and headed over to the Panathenaic Stadium to see where the Olympic Games originated. It was really neat to see the stadium and wonder what the place was like on race day. Tim and I then strolled through a nearby park and botanical gardens on our way to a bigger hill off a little ways in the distance.
The climb up took roughly 40 minutes and was a combination of gravel, asphalt steps and cobblestone. Once we reached the top though, I knew it was worth it. There were not manz people there, and the view was spectacular. We had a great view of the Acropolis as well as the valley that encompassed the city of Athens. Tim and I sat and took in the view for roughly 15 minutes before making the trek down and back towards our hostel.
By now it was getting later in the evening and we wanted to get showered and packed before it got too late. The following morning we caught the metro train to the airport and flew to Rome to continue our adventure.