Athens: The Sun Always Shines on Greece
Greece was the cradle of western civilization and Athens was the center of it all. Today it’s the center of an important conversation about Europe’s future as a Union. Riots got the attention of American media. Headlines about a depressed Greece both intrigued and confused me. So, one of my goals when I got to Athens was to figure out a little more about this all important historic city.
Bus for 44.30 Euros + ferry for 10 Euros. 10 hours from Corfu. Corfu to Athens is a straightforward route and you may want to buy a bus ticket one day in advance during high season. Here is the map for the Corfu Town bus station.
Where to stay
Helene and I stayed in Kypseli, a real Athens neighborhood with more of a local feel to it, 3–4 kilometers away from main tourist sites at Orhidrea’s AirBNB. Apparently the neighborhood was once a pretty posh neighborhood, but in the 50s the Junta, a military Government, built five story concrete apartment buildings. To say the buildings are ugly would be an understatement, but taking the history into consideration fascinated me. I couldn’t stop looking at all the buildings, the restaurants, the shops, and the people.
The people of the neighborhood were mostly African and Eastern European, but not exclusively ethnic. I had a conversation with an older man at a bus stop who was once a famous Greek actor, or so he said, back in the 50s or 60s. He conveniently had a DVD of his program in his bag and the actor on the cover was, in fact, him. Athens felt cosmopolitan, for a moment. I later learned that some 300,000 young people have left Greece, a sobering reality visible in the quite streets during rush hour.
A cool place to chill out
After having blown through Europe in two weeks, we wanted a place to chill out. So, admittedly we spent more time on the internet than sightseeing, but Athens offers enough to keep busy for a couple days.
I must admit, though, that Athens, however fascinating, loses all of her appeal in 40 degree weather. Most people generally only visit for a day or two, but the hot weather was not what we were going for so we chilled indoors for five days, site seeing during strategic times of the day: think morning and night. Hot might even be an understatement; I literally felt cold after enough time in the sun. I don’t quite understand how that works…a little heat stroke maybe?
A day or two is enough to uncover most of the main attractions, but we stayed for five days, doing at least one or two smaller activities a day. The highlight, by far, was the free walking tour because it helped us orient ourselves, see the city’s top attractions, and meet some other travelers.
Acropolis Museum is a must do that we, for worse, didn’t do. Interesting story about the museum: throughout history, the Acropolis was looted and then looted again. Today, many of the Acropolis’ treasures can be found in the British museum. When the Greeks requested to the British to return the treasures, the Museum’s Director agreed only if there was a proper place to put it. So, the Greeks built the Acropolis Museum. Curiously, the British still have not returned the pieces.
The Acropolis is the most notable attraction of Athens and, without a doubt, the most busy. I’d recommend visiting at sunset when the lighting is perfect for photos and the herds of tourists are slightly smaller in numbers.
Kallimarmaro Stadium is a nice photo op. This is the location where the marathon ends each year, exactly 26 miles and 385 yards from the city of Marathon.
Photos of Athens:
Next stop: Meteora…