There is no country like Greece. The generosity, the scenery, the water, the cats! What a place to visit. I am sure if you have been these pictures will make you want to return.
After many many years of dreaming about going to Greece, I’ve finally been. If you haven’t visited Greece I am sure you may want to after seeing these pictures.
I promised to visit a friend who has a little house, on the Cyclade Island of Naxos. Everyone is always eager to get to those dreamy islands with the blue water and the Taverna on the beach but I decided to explore Athens first. Arriving at 12 am Friday morning can be tricky so I booked a driver and car to take me into the city centre, a nearly 30-minute journey. Buses to and from the airport are efficient but at this time in the night, after a full days travel, I opted for AUS $60 luxury travel. I was dropped at the door of my hotel in my new city.
Arriving in Athens
Most journies to the islands begin after arriving at Athens airport connecting to the islands via three ports: Piraeus, Rafina and Lavrion. Piraeus is the largest one, from where the majority of ferries depart. Rather than going straight from the airport to the port, as some people do, I thought I’d spend the weekend in Athens before heading out by ferry. I wasn’t expecting much. Lots of people skip Athens entirely.
I’d suggest you do NOT miss Athens. Everything I have ever heard about Athens is wrong. I loved it so much I extended my weekend by days, not wanting to leave. I was still uncovering streets packed with restaurants, quirky markets, friendly welcoming people, great nightlife and unimaginable history at every turn.
Getting around Athens
Moving hotels during my stay gave me a really good feel for some of the different areas of Athens. The first couple of days were spent in Monastiraki at the Economy Hotel, its cheap and cheerful at around $50, but it was central and included breakfast as many hotels do here. There are many, many choices in Monastiraki. The Central Municipal Athens markets can be found here. I stumbled upon this crowded, lively market with big cavernous halls of fish, meats, and vegetables. All very clean and organised with cafes and spice and dry goods just outside.
I got myself acquainted with Athens by taking a spin on the hop on hop off bus. You get to do a round of all the main city sights with a bit of an audio soundtrack. They’re money well spent on a hot Athens day. Hop on anywhere and hop off, all day if you want. Another great way to see as much as possible in a short time is to get yourself on a guided tour to the Acropolis. I did a tour that combined the Acropolis and Cape Sounion, to visit The Temple of Poseidon, on the same day.
Surrounding streets in Monastiraki, Psiri, Plaka and around the Ancient Agora are filled with flea markets and street after street of homely restaurants and bars. It’s heaven
It’s a fun city
I moved to Plaka district, central and of course one of the most popular areas to stay in Athens. It’s the perfect place to stay if you are traveling alone (or even if you are not). This lively, light district is easy to navigate both day and night. It’s full of restaurants and bars. It’s close to everything and there are hundreds of hotels. I stayed at The Hermes Hotel. This centrally located little gem was perfect. Not hugely flashy but just flashy enough, especially at the bargain price of $100. There are late-night dumplings and noodle bars in the back streets near the hotel and one of my most favourite restaurants in Athens.
Restaurant choices. So many. One of my favourites is Marco Aspro Alogo. It’s run by a family. They are ultra friendly, generous and have been in this same place – probably cooking the same food for a long long time. It’s not trying to be fancy or upmarket. It is honest and fresh and just the best. I ate at many places but this took my heart. See the link above for more details. Marco Aspro Alogo just off Apollonas Street near the Hermes Hotel in Plaka.
Many hotels have a birdseye view of the Acropolis in the suburb of Plaka. Brettos in Plaka is Athens oldest distillery and open 10 am to 2am, so there is plenty of time in a day to visit. They have local wines and distill liquors, like brandy and ouzo. Drop by the Electra Metropolis Hotel ($320), pool and rooftop bar not far from Brettos in Plaka too
A trip out to Cape Sounion to visit the temple of Poseidon is a great way to see a lot more of native Athens. The spectacular coastline on the nearly 70 km trip ranges from crowded tourist beaches to the deserted cliffs beneath the Temple built in 440 BC! The trip to the Cape takes you through the real Athens where apartment buildings back onto each other and are a little more modern and highrise then in the centre of Athens. The coastline is a playground for locals. There are resorts, cafes, restaurants, and enough bars to keep everyone from drying out.
A trip to Athens would not be complete without Sundays changing of the guard. The Evezone’s, accompanied by a military band march from their barracks, just behind the Parliament Building, along the Vasilissis Sofias Avenue to the Tomb of the Unknown soldier where a ceremonial change of guards takes place every Sunday at 11:00.
Ferries are organised and very on time. The best ferry to be on if you want to catch some daylight when you get to your chosen Island is the superfast ferry that leaves Piraeus at the ungodly hour of 7 am. Piraeus is about a 30 minute cab ride from Plaka at 6 am and well and truly worth the $25 cab fare. The sun was coming up and the bread sellers were already out. There is absolutely no reason for them to be out at all, as the ferries have all the standard Greek snacks and more. Wash that down with alcohol or coffee from the bar too. The superfast arrives at Naxos Island in 4 hours after a stop to drop off in Parros
Woohoo. I’m there……..come back and check out my adventures next post.
- All photos taken on Samsung S8.