I think I should have been born into a country, where you can pick lemon, orange or mandarin from the trees at the street. Karma, in my next life please be kind with me.
Well, Greece is a place like that. Not just citrus trees, but you can find ripe dates, fallen from the trees as well. Olive trees are also common around. But guys, even if you really like olives, please never ever taste a raw one from the tree, believe me, been there done that…wasn’t fun at all.
This post is not a perfect guidance for an Athen trip, I am not gonna talk about history through long paragraphs, maybe just a few bits and pieces that I picked up during the Athen tours. My aim is just to show you around the city a little bit through my eyes, how I saw things, what I experienced. I’ll share a few funny situations that happened to me, and I’ll recommend to you a few places and activities that I actually tried and approved.
Shall we begin?
I am that kind of person who most of the time over plans everything, well, that not happened with me during this Athens trip, I actually had no time and no energy to do it before, because I was quite busy with working as an animator in Rhodes (This is a different story, read it here). So I arrived in Athens with no exact plans, I only had my accommodation booked through airbnb, and had a free city tour in my schedule for my first full day in the city. Most of the time I was only wandering around, exploring Athens by walking around, sitting into cafés and restaurants, climbing up to hills, and rooftop bars. I didn’t want to be in rush, I didn’t want to wait in ques, or be inside buildings amongst the crowd. I am not really a museum kind of girl, don’t get me wrong, history and culture are important, but I actually prefer to experience it by kind of living it, or just being around locals. And I encourage you as well to do that!
„A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.” Mahatma Gandhi
Athens is huge, if you are not staying in the center you will definitely need to use public transportation. Since I spent there five days, a five-day ticket (for 9 euros) was just perfect for me, fortunately, they have many options for tourist, so if you are planning a trip, check out the ticket options and prices.
On my first morning, I was heading to the center to meet with the tourguide and the group of the free Athen trip. As I reached the center I was smiling because all the locals wore long trousers and jumpers, even jackets, while I was in thin capri trousers, wore a crop top and flip-flops. (Oh-ho a joke that I heard from a German friend just come to my mind, so I’ll share it with you. What does a man with two left feet wear in summer? Flop-flop!) The reason I’ve just share my outfit with you is that quite a few people told me that „If you don’t want to be pickpocketed you definitely shouldn’t look like as a tourist”. Sure as hell I didn’t look like a tourist, with my outfit, with my tiny backpack, and just to make sure, I also carried my selfie stick with me.
I actually didn’t really experience or saw any pickpocketers, but as I learned, since the economic breakdown, it’s quite common that people are being pickpocketed during daylight in the middle of the crowd even without noticing it. The police is almost powerless and not really willing to do anything about it. In spite of this fact I actually never really felt in danger.
So as I told you before I am not gonna share the historical part to the detail with you, but I’ll tell you some interesting or funny facts, that you may not find in the history books. I collected them into this other post.
Where to eat?
When you got tired of wandering around the city you can find many restaurants or gyros places around Monastiraki square. I had a nice moussaka at Thanasis, I liked the place, because of its garden and the teeming streets around. But if you want a little more quiet place than I definitely recommend the rooftop bars and cafés. Okay there will be many people there as well (depending on what time of the day you go) but the view is breathtaking. You can have a coffee, a glass of wine, or a whole lunch/dinner while you are staring to the Acropolis or the rooftops of Athen. I definitely recommend Anafiotika. The octopus was just perfect. I went there on my last day, quite early – around 3 o’clock, and it was actually empty, I had the whole rooftop for myself. It was such a calm Monday afternoon, just the grilled octopus my red wine and the rooftops in front of me. Perfect time to sink into your thought, and feel the freedom. So guys I actually encourage everyone time to time go for a meal a coffee or whatever on your own. It’s a whole new experience, especially if you are in a nice place like this:
I guess in Greece it’s not really common that girls go to restaurants or cafés on their own, cause every time I went somewhere alone and asked for a table for one, they always looked confused and asked back:
-Just for one?
One night I went to a nice restaurant. The Greek band was already playing some Greek music, and a dancer pair was dancing Zorba in the middle of the restaurant. What an idyllic place for dinner – I thought. The same conversation happened. -Only for one? -Yes for one, please! At that time there were many free tables, so I assumed that they will seat me somewhere near to the wall, in some quiet places. Nope, oh man I was so wrong. They actually seated me in the MIDDLE of the restaurant in front of the band and the dancers, saying that it is the best place. Obviously, I felt a little awkward in the beginning, but after a sip of the red wine of the house I started to feel the vibe and enjoy the view and the spirit of the place.
In the other day I was brave (or stupid) enough to go to the market alone. I managed to start my little trip at the butcher area. Well, that was an experience. It reminded me a little bit to a beginning of a horror story or it could have been an episode from Dexter. When I looked around, I saw plenty of men in white butcher uniforms, with some blood on it, a few of them were holding a knife or a blade. Since I was nearly the only one in the alley, all were staring at me, saying Hello Lady! (what a group of Gentlemen?!), whistling, catcalling. Hey Honey, where are you from? (Sure I didn’t look like a tourist…) Hey, come here my Love! Until a point, it was actually kind of funny, maybe I would even say that it was a confidence-boosting experience… I went to the market with the intention of making some photos of the market, just as I did it before in Barcelona. Well in this market I didn’t really think that it was a good idea to stop and take photos, cause I had the feeling that if I slow down they will catch me and debone me as well (obviously, I exaggerate a little bit here).
At one point one of them come so close to me, he reached out to me and touched my shoulder. The other one was shouting to him, Hey man! Don’t touch, just watch. I was like, Yeah definitely don’t touch! Then I fasten up my steps and left the area sincerely. I walked to the fish and seafood section, which was busier, so I could actually take some photos of the goods. After that I left the market, that was enough adventure for that day.
Aaand here comes the part that we’ve been all waiting for, yes the Acropolis. Obviously you want to see it when you are in Athens. Actually I saw it every day from the distance, since it’s visible in every corner in the center, you just have to raise up your eyes. Of course I wanted to have a closer look to the monuments, I just didn’t manage to buy the tickets and do the trip in the first few days. What a lucky coincidence. Because I found out at the Athens night tour that every first Sunday from November 1st to March 31st there is free entrance to Acropolis, and actually to most of the museums and other Monuments in Athens as well. So if you are planning to go to the capital of Greece keep this in mind.
Make sure that you also visit Plaka area. That was my favorite part of the center. Lovely houses, cute cafés, romantic streets. I have to be honest, Athens is not going to be my favorite city ever (that title is actually taken by Barcelona so far) but it’s definitely a nice place and worth visiting!
Oh girls, if men with mesmerizing eyes and with greek beard are your thing, you will fall in love in every second corner of Athens! Nope, just kidding, in every corner! 🙂 (just remember to be careful with the butchers 😉 )
Oh yes and one more thing, a „pro tip”, from a clumsy traveler. Always make sure, that you have some spare cash with you for the airport bus, or whatever you need to take to go to the airport, otherwise you will have a few minutes in panic, searching for an ATM with the thoughts of missing your airplane… (Hmmm, well, would it be really that bad to stuck in a place with orange trees and half Gods around the street?)