Dear reader, I think you know what’s about to come for the start of the post.
You guessed it: Covid stopped me going here in November 2020. Grrr to the damn thing.
On Friday 12th November I got my booster Covid jab and I didn’t fare too well after it. I was thinking I shouldn’t go to Athens because I didn’t feel good and I should have stayed home to recover.
I ignored my gut feeling and you will see why that was a bad thing throughout the post.
I hadn’t really done much research for what to do whilst I was here other than the sites of the Acropolis and Parthenon (as you do).
I decided to look the day before and make a list of what to do. I had already booked a walking tour for one of the nights I was here.
I decided I would save myself some money and not do a sightseeing bus. It turns out that was probably the best thing.
My flight was early evening and I managed to get a few hours kip between work finishing and when I needed to leave for the airport.
I had a quick check during the shift to see if it listed what aircraft we would be flying on. We were flying on the 737 Max 8 again and that sealed it for me to go. I know, I know. Don’t judge me!!! It was really uneventful between getting to Stansted and landing in Athens – well, with the exception of security at Stansted. My backpack was put through the x-ray twice and the carry on 4 times. After the 4th time they decided to look in the carry on to make sure nothing was there – fun times for all!
The fun came once we disembarked and went through passport control and to the hostel. The border guard noticed the Madrid stamp in my passport and questioned how I could be in Madrid still and also in front of him and we joked that the Spaniards are way too advanced for the rest of us.
Once I was out I tried to find out where I needed to go to get the metro to Syntagma Square and then head to the hostel. I decided on the metro as it would be quicker (ha, what a joke that was). I got to the platform and had a 30 minute wait and I got on the metro but I wasn’t too sure. I got off at the next stop as it didn’t feel like the right metro as it was early.
It turns out that I was on the right metro and my tiredness made me think otherwise. It said I had another 30 minutes to wait but thankfully one turned up about 10 minutes later. I was happy to sit in the warmth for a little while. I got to Syntagma and got some money out to pay the hostel. Thankfully I read that they didn’t take card under €50 (don’t even get me started).
I arrived at the hostel about 23:30 and got buzzed in. The receptionist was a grumpy old man. He told me how much I had to pay and tried to charge me extra for the city tax. I told him it was included and he finally relented and chucked my change at me. I also asked for a towel and he told me his English wasn’t good. I tried to help by talking slow and he shouted that his English wasn’t very good as he already told me (good enough for that though). I’m glad I had Google Translate on my phone. I should have known this would set the tone for the stay.
I had to leave the key every time I left. I had to put the card in the slot to get the electric to work. There was no heating and no air con. I’m ready to leave a bad review let me tell you!!!
I went to bed ready for my trip to the Acropolis & Parthenon tomorrow.
I got up fairly early so I could take a nice walk to the Parthenon. It was fairly close by so I wasn’t worried that it would take long. I also wanted to be out of the hostel for as much as possible each day.
I took a nice steady walk (and lots of pictures) along the winding streets and up the steps (what a relief they weren’t as steep as Amman). The views were incredible I have to say. I got to Areopagus Hill and climbed up it and the views across the city were breathtaking. I will hasten to add that it was really slippery as it was marble. It made for a fun walk across the top. After I was done here, it was a 30 second walk to the ticket office for the Acropolis.
I read that the entrance fee is reduce between November and March and it didn’t seem too pricey. I come to find out that the reduced price was for that site only and could only be used on the day it was issued. I was also given the option of an all site ticket that included the state owned 7 sites and lasted 5 days (thought it only allowed a single visit to each one). I opted for that as it seemed to be the better option for me and my trip.
Reduced price for the Acropolis, Parthenon, Slopes is €10. Full price is €20. Combined ticket is €30 (sadly no reduced price for this). I walked around the slopes first and, again, the views around all sides of the city were amazing. I didn’t know where to visit first and just wandered around snapping away and enjoying it. I also was in an “I don’t care for other people” mood so didn’t wait for people to move and just pushed past them.
After I was done here, I climbed the steps to the Acropolis and Parthenon. On the way up I saw a small building that looked like the Parthenon but not the Acropolis. My thoughts were that it should be renamed to the Acrapolis. I soon changed my mind once I was up the steps. It was really surreal to be here after only ever having seen it in pictures in books. I really enjoyed it until I rolled my ankle a couple of times and broke my debit card. How did this happen I hear you ask. Well, I took it out of my wallet and put it on the wall whilst I was looking for something else and then I sat on it and snapped it. That set the mood for the rest of the trip i’m afraid as it meant I was without money for food or drinks. Oh well, my own fault for coming here against my gut feeling.
Once I had looked around at the top of the slopes, I headed down and towards Hadrian’s Arch and the Temple of Olympian Zues (Olympieion). The reduced price cost here is €4 and the full price is €8. It was nice to see the monument up close instead of from the Acropolis. I spent about 45 minutes here (mostly sat wondering what I was going to do for food and drink. I was starting to get hungry and get a headache). I decided once I was done here I would go find the tram and hop on the tram to see where it would take me. I walked around the national park first and then found a place to sit and take some tram videos before getting on it.
On the way to the tram stop, there were a LOAD of police lining the streets and police buses blocking roads. The police had riot shields and some were wearing gas masks. I wanted to stay and see what it was all about, but I thought better of it and went to the tram. Better to be safe than sorry I guess.
The tram took me along the coast for about an hour and then back again. By this time it was late and dark so I decided to head back to the hostel to have what rations I had brought with me. I hadn’t felt this hungry since I was a kid and we had no money.
Before I went back, I happened upon the changing of the guard at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier outside of the parliament building. It was a pretty weird ceremony. You couldn’t go right up to the tomb because of Covid and you couldn’t get close to the guards – police or soldiers would prevent you from doing this.
The videos below show the ceremony.
Despite this, I did have a good day and it was awesome to see the sites and sights. I needed to go to bed a little earlier as I had a walking tour now booked for the morning (which subsequently got cancelled due to a lack of people – can I get an AMEN for a lie in).
Total steps: 18,198
Total miles: 8.6
Below are some pics from today
Acropolis & Parthenon
One thing I found that was noticeably missing from Athens was a river. I found out from the evening tour guide that Athens does indeed have 3 rivers but they were all covered over and are underground. I did see a small part of it by Monistraki Square where they have it uncovered. Very strange indeed.
Today was an early start for the bus to the airport for my flight. I was definitely ready to leave and come back home that’s for sure.
I was so happy to leave the hostel!
I got to the airport and we were put on a bus to the aircraft. We were kept waiting at the back stairs for about 15 minutes in the cold. I was not impressed!
I got a row to myself and put my backpack on the aisle seat and had a lie-down and slept for about 2 hours in total.
The trip through the border was effortless and the eGates were working. I had a 30-minute wait for the train. I was back home around 11:30 and it felt so good to be home – even if I did have to go back to nightshift.
The total price of the 7 sites reduced price paying separately: €32 (a €2 saving is money for a Sprite and a Twix). The total price of the 7 sites full-price paying separately: €64 (a €34 saving is money for a Sprite and a Twix [or 20]).
Total steps: 56,281
Total miles: 26.3
You can view all of my pics using the links belowGeneral Athens
Acropolis & Parthenon
Ancient & Roman Agora’s