ATHENS

Update from 2019: Second visit to Athens. Pictures are in the second album, at the bottom of this page.

 

I had long wanted to visit Athens. Even though I live quite close, in Sofia, I hadn't gone in my three years there. Eventually, it was winter and I decided I could look for some tickets to go and eventually see this ancient city. I often travel abroad in winter as the flights are quite affordable, especially the low-cost ones. The same goes for hotels. Besides, the crowds are fewer and for Greece, the temperatures are quite alright. Seeing Athens in summer is out of reach for me as temperatures get uncomfortably high - and I like to be quite active walking around.

I visited in January 2018. It was just an hour flight from Sofia. My shortest flight so far. I took the metro from the airport and it took about an hour to the center. I got off right in the center, at the Monastiraki station. It's shown in the first picture of the album below. From there, you're at an equal distance to all main sights. I slept at Hotel Tempi  which was at just five minutes from Monastiraki. Just a perfect location. I slept on the top floor with a balcony and because it was this high, the street noise wasn't disturbing.

As the weather was quite good, I spent all my time outside. The area of Plaka and Gazi. The Technopolis, a renovated industrial area, seems to have many interesting events going on. It's right next to the Kerameikos metro station. The Gazi area is popular for going out, with remarkably many gay bars. Psyrri was more interesting in my perspective, also far busier because it's right next to the center. There's many bars and restaurants and has a completely different vibe than Plaka, where you'll find many more tourists hanging around. Obviously the whole area around the Acropolis is pretty, I walked all around it. Just didn't go up there, I preferred to admire it from below. On Saturday night, the whole center was packed with people. Many Greeks and tourists alike enjoying themselves in the many restaurants and bars. Athens is a fun city. People know how to enjoy themselves. I found the Greeks to be very hospitable and friendly. All in all I enjoyed Athens and I would return for sure.

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In 2019 I decided to visit again, this time at the end of March. It was significantly greener as you can see in the pictures and I argue that it's a perfect time to visit. Perhaps April is better still, but either way it was Athens without large crowds and with excellent weather. Warm enough to enjoy walking outside but cool enough to climb some hills surrounding the center of the city.

 

Again I stayed at the Tempi hotel as they have good prices and it's right in the center. This time I visited the Ancient Agora of Athens, which I loved. It's big enough to spend at least an hour and a half or more if you are very interested in reading all about the history. There was an inside exhibiton as well with pottery and other objects.

After, I spent the day walking throughout the Plaka area and also squeezed in a visit to the Benaki museum. It has incredible exhibitions and is truly magnificent, with all its descriptions and even the cafe with a view over the city. But to be very honest I am impatient and could only read and watch so much before I decided to hurry on. Nonetheless that's on me, I would say the Benaki is a must-see if you have the slightest interest in history of the wider Balkan region. 

 

The next morning, I took a 24-hour transport ticket from the Syntagma metro station. I then took the metro to Faliro, which is the stop right before Piraeus. From Faliro, it's a couple minutes walk to the tramp stop. I took tram number 3 in the direction of Voula and got off at Park Flisvos. I walked to tavern To Faliraki and had an excellent Greek lunch. I headed back to the shore and walked in the direction of Edem, it's a great boulevard to walk. At Edem, there's another tavern and a fish restaurant at the beach.

 

I took the tram and metro back for a walk through the Filopappou Hill, which was just fantastic. It's a beautiful and mediterranean type of trees and bushes and with the sun on my skin and a cool breeze, it was just a perfect walk with some amazing views on the Acropolis now and then. Before picking the train to the airport, I had an excellent dinner at the Spheka tapas bar (they smoke inside but had good ventilation). Another excellent trip and it seems the more you come back, the more you like it. Athens is not a city that intrugues upon first sight but that makes it all the more rewarding to explore.

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