Here we are again, another travel diary but this time in Athens and Athens was hot. Hot and busy and sticky and a bit gross. I still liked it though, looking back. After we got off the cruise we had four days in Athens and we kinda wanted to just take it slow. First day off Jamie and I and a guy called John from Contiki trekked it up to the Acropolis. We definitely got lost, got a bit cranky and just generally complained a lot. We were all coming down from a week of heavy drinking, too much food and probably not enough water. It was a good experience though and I do highly recommend it, but remember to bring a lot of water and be prepared for a lot of walking and a lot of people.
After we said goodbye to John and picked up our bags, Jamie and I wandered to our Air Bnb, I say wandered but what I mean is moaned and groaned and dragged our stupidly heavy bags through the hectic streets of Athens, navigating the people and cars to finally make it to the Air Bnb. When we got there we were relieved because there was an elevator and then we groaned because it only went so far, and we had to go up the windiest, tiniest spiral staircase to reach our loft apartment. Thankfully the view was well worth it.
The apartment was really cute and quirky and had a really nice feel to it. The guy that owns it was a local DJ and had a really big collection of records that we could use. Jamie and I were too scared to use them in case we ruined any of them but we did make use of his amazing stereo system quite a bit. The biggest problem we had though was just how hot it was, and his air conditioner just couldn’t handle it! The bed was a loft bed in a loft apartment and it just got so hot up there that I barely slept the whole time we were there. Jamie would regularly wake up to find me reading in a chair directly under the air conditioner.
The area we stayed in was called Exarcheia, which is famous for homing Greek anarchists so can be considered a bit rough but apart from having a burnt shell of a car outside the apartment building, we never had a problem with it. We did a fair bit of walking in Athens and did explore our local area a fair amount and we really liked it. However, we didn’t really go out at night because we were always burnt out by the time it got dark so that could be why we weren’t overly bothered.
One thing I highly recommend if you visit Athens is the National Gardens. It is such a beautiful green space that is surprisingly huge in a city so crowded. It’s such a lovely wander and they have so many interesting bits to see. For example they have a little pond that’s just filed with turtles! Although a few photos down I think you can tell the heat was getting to me, I was not happy! I was also having a bit of an off day that day and I remember thinking I look really terrible in all the photos. Looking back I was probably just in a bit of a grump and I look fine but at the time I thought I was gross, boring and very un-blogger-like. Everybody has those days though, even when they’re travelling. Jamie of course is always adorable.
Walking through the gardens we stumbled across this beautiful old building. I can’t really work out what the Zappion building is for but from my understanding it’s like an event hall. It has these beautiful columns and is just picturesque.
The continuing theme of these posts is me not remembering where I am but again, I couldn’t tell you where we are, but I fell in love with this little shopping and eating strip. There were so many cute little boutique stores here, but I have a feeling it was a Sunday as I think that many of them were closed. We actually stumbled on it on the way to the National Gardens but weren’t in the mood to eat or drink so kept going past it, but I knew we had to stop off on the way home.
Espresso Freddo was our drink of choice pretty much the whole time we were in Greece. It’s basically an iced black coffee thats shaken until it forms a froth. We always love our coffee but it is just so refreshing on a hot day. So of course we had to start our meal with one, but we did move onto wine eventually. We shared the most yummy prawn and avocado salad and a cheese-less veggie pizza too. The whole vegan thing was hard in Greece (we probably didn’t research well enough) but with the language barrier and limited options we ended up eating quite a bit of seafood and fish (as you will see). I still feel uncomfortable eating it but it was always a complete favourite of mine growing up so we chose that as our exception to make eating a little easier.
As always, we had to stop and pet all the cats and take their photos. It was hard in Athens as the cats always seemed so scrawny and scruffy, on the islands the cats always seemed well looked after, like they were just peoples pets. I think I would be terrible living in Greece, I would be forever bringing home cats and looking after them.
On the second last day we met up with some friends of ours. The reason we ended up spending so much time in Greece is because my family friends were renewing their wedding vows on the little island they got married on 30 years prior. The post on that will come eventually but believe me when I say it was beautiful. So it just so happened that their daughter and her boyfriend had an overlapping day in Athens with us so of course we had to explore together. Jamie and I grabbed a salad and some wine for lunch and then we decided to get the train to Piraeus, the port of Athens.
Unfortunately, we took a wrong turn out of the station. We got so lost and we couldn’t understand why people had recommended this place to us. It was dingy, creepy and there were no cute bars or restaurants. We also saw a very lopsided boat (see below). It was a really eye opening experience for us all as it told us what it was actually like as a resident of Athens. You hear on the news about how their economy isn’t great and it’s a tough place at the moment, but in the centre, you only really see the touristy or the wealthier side of things. Out there it was rough.
Anyway, a lot of walking, a taxi ride and a hell of a lot more walking we made it to the port (the ‘nice’ one) and finally understood why people rated it on TripAdvisor. It was very cute. Lots of little bars and restaurants to stop in and quite a few shops too. Unfortunately we were too late to shop at this point so we just explored and drank instead.
On the last day, we went back to the first restaurant we went to in Athens as we enjoyed it so much. We ate and drank a lot and decided to find the bar we went to the first night again to, because why not? This was really the only night we stayed out in Athens. Jamie and I talk so much it’s borderline ridiculous. In the 8 whole weeks we were away, we only ran out of conversation twice and then we chatted a lot about how funny it was that we ran out of things to say. My point is that Jamie and I rarely go out because we tend to do the same thing we do at home anyway which is sit on a couch, drink wine and talk. This was one of those nights where we just talked for hours and it was lovely. The cocktails are incredible by the way, and the whole bar is just set up really well. You definitely have to pop in if you end up in Athens.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this very rambly, long post and please let me know your thoughts. Do you like Athens? What was your experience like?
Thanks for reading,