As part of my 2 month trip in Europe, one of the places I was most excited to visit was Greece, more specifically Athens. Being a greek mythology fan as a kid (Who isn't tho, really), it was a destination I had only dreamed of visiting. Of course it was a bit of a disappointment not to see Hercules fight a Hydra, or Zeus trying to hit on women at bars, but it was still an amazing experience, every bit of memorable as I expected it would be. I only stayed for a couple nights since everyone told me that it was just another city in a way, but I feel like staying more would have been a nice experience as well, and I'm definitely coming back for seconds some day. For now, I'm happy that I even got there once, since I lost my first flight back in seville (story for another time), but I really wanted to go to Greece so I booked another one from Portugal. Luckily this time I had a lovely companion get me safely on time to the airport, and I got to leave with no issue towards my destination.
Day 1 -
I got to the airport from Portugal at around 6 am. First thing I did, after buying some cough medicine from a particularly sleepy pharmacist, was to take the train that takes you straight to the city. Even if all the doors are open, which was my cas, buy the ticket at the airport station!! Otherwise you might get to the city and find out you can't buy it there and you can't leave the station without it, and you might get fined a hefty sum. Which might have been me, but making puppy eyes to the train station worker was enough for her to let me just pay the ticket and get off with a warning. Once in the city centre, I got to see a change of guards at the Parliamentary, a pretty lovely welcome at 7am. As soon as you start walking you'll see the several hills rise around the city, some being short hiking material excellent for a nice lunch or picnic at the top, or in my case a healthy mcdonalds breakfast which was the first thing I found open.
My hostel wouldn't let me check in for a couple more hours so I started to walk around the multiple parks and hills that surround the city, checking the acropolis and the parthenon, all from afar because I'm not a fan of long lines or high prices. Athens is a beautiful city to lose yourself and just walk and walk around without much of a destination, and you'll get to see some beautiful ancient preserved buildings and viewpoints from the city.
If you do your research, or walk enough in the right direction, you'll stumble upon the national gardens, a huge amazing park comissioned by a Queen around 400 years ago (okay, I read the plaque after being with no sleep for 40 hours, have mercy on my memory). Really one of the nicest parts of the cities, and lovely to take several pictures either with your friends, family, loved ones, or the selfie stick that accompanies you on every adventure.
After a whole day of walking fueled by two large Gyros...wait, GYROS. My favorite part of Greece. The greek version of Döner, but don't say that to any greek person or they'll rightly stab you. This amazing meat, with salad and fries, topped with the freshest tzatziki was my selection of food more times than I'm prepared to admit. And it's oh so cheap. Definitely give it a try, I'd recommend a specific place but being one of the local sensations most places will make a great one. Also recommend trying out a Moussaka(A potato pie with bechamel sauce) and put feta cheese on everything you see, it's worth it.
Okay, back to the trip. After a whole day of walking I was just dead tired, so I evaded the multiple requests from the hostel (Athens Backpackers) to join their rooftop bar fun, and just crashed.
Day 2 -
Woke up the next day feeling refreshed and ready for another day. After a big breakfast at the hostel, I went to check out Exarcheia. Not the most common place for tourists, but I was attracted to the history of it. In case you don't know, Exarcheia is an anarchist neighborhood quarter in Athens. Most of the riots and political movements take origin there. Sadly, I can't say I saw much of this during my visit, but maybe I just didn't get involved enough. Mostly I saw a lot more poverty and trash (like, really, super dirty part of the city), but some nice hills that made up for the morning and afternoon exploration. After a quick lunch, I found a park with a basketball court with some people playing, and joined in on their game for a while. Greek people are super friendly in general, and if you open up to them they'll open up to you in a heartbeat.
After getting my ass kicked, because I like basketball but I suck at it, the guys at the court told me that I should check Lycabettus, a popular spot to check out the sunset. And popular it is with dozens upon dozens of people scrambling to get a picture (which is a bit dumb, but you guys do you), and some others hanging back with some beers and just relaxing. The view is certainly amazing, with the sun hiding over the acropolis and a multitude of colors tracing the sky as you get to see far back into the horizon. Do try to get there early, since the walk up is quite a trip, and you don't want to be there late like some silly itinerary writers.
I made my way back to the hostel after that, and this time went directly to the rooftop bar. Definitely recommend checking it out if you go to this hostel (Athens backpackers in case you missed it), prices are cheap and where there's fun there's fun people to hang out with. Afterwards you can also join their pubcrawl, or just crawl your way back to bed depending on how you feel after the copious amount of alcohol you probably ingested.
I woke up with a dull hungover, and after a much needed breakfast with lots of water and an aspirin, I went to the train station once again this time to take a flight to the isle of Crete. But I'll leave that for the next itinerary!