An Epic Adventure in Athens!

The Parthenon at Athens
*** Warning, this post has a lot of pictures ***

Athens was definitely one of the coolest places we’ve ever been. Ever! For those readers who don’t know exactly where Athens is and what it means to western history and culture, get out from under that rock and learn to read grown-up books. I’m not going to type one word about the history of Athens. Most fetuses know at least some of the history of that fabled city. But, if by some misfortune or another, you don’t know anything about the most famous and important city in the western world, and would like to know a few facts and figures, why not educate yourself by following this link?

Finish this post when you know where and what Athens is and what it means to the world. As for the rest of you, forge on, stalwart historians! We have much to see.

I was in Athens for only one night with my best lil’ travellin’ buddy, and usually one day isn’t deserving of an entire post, but… Athens!

We made the absolute most of it.

We landed at the airport, caught a cab to our accommodations, Hostel Dioskouros (chosen for it’s proximity to the Acropolis, and the price), got some lunch, climbed all over the Acropolis for hours, got dinner and drinks, went back to the hotel, had a beer, slept, went back to the airport, boarded a flight to Madrid, and flew away. That was about it. Here are some pictures.

Well, that might be a bit of an overly condensed version of events, but it’s basically what happened.

More than what we did during our short stay in Athens, I think what had the biggest impact on us was the feeling of what it was like to actually be in such a place. I know, that sounds a bit cheesy, like something a person might say in a BBC art documentary, or even lamer, in a CBC art documentary, but it’s true.

Athens is old, really old, and you can tell. It’s got an ancient soul and an unmistakably unique personality. Not a boring old person’s personality either, but a very cool old person’s personality. It’s so cool because it doesn’t need to try, and it doesn’t care what your opinion on the issue might be; you really don’t matter. But enjoy yourself all the same.

Just a thing we saw on the way to explore the Acropolis of Athens, no biggie!
Hadrian’s Arch/Gate

We stopped for a bite to eat at the foot of the Acropolis before heading in for what we knew would be an adventure of many hours, and usually, in my experience, eateries in and around major tourist attractions tend to lack authenticity and, well, generally suck. But the spot we had lunch at (I forget the name. Whoops!) not only served great-tasting fare, but was also surprisingly affordable. A pleasant substitute for the airport or bus-station sort of fare one usually finds in such locations.

After fueling up at our lovely little lunch spot, we were eager to see as much as we could in the short time we had. It’s not every day that we had the opportunity to physically experience a world wonder. So off we went.

Exploring the Acropolis had me as giddy as a schoolgirl. Waiting for my wife as she inspected this ancient bit and read a plaque on that ageless artifact was maddening. I just wanted to get to the top, dammit!! Hurry! Until some ancient bit or ageless artifact caught my eye.

Oh, let’s take pictures of that!

A few things along the way up to the Acropolis.

People lived here a gazillion years ago. They, like everyone else, had jobs, concerns, loves, and hobbies. They no doubt needed to finish the chores before running off to play or go swimming with their friends. There were almost certainly plenty of busy kitchens in the evenings as people scurried about getting things ready for their dinner parties in one of the most important centers in the known world. People walked the very same pathways we were walking now, only thousands of years ago! Cool!

History geek over here. Can you tell?

Getting closer

Oh man! Things just got better and better as we climbed higher and higher. And well before the top, I could overhear a guide telling her party of two how the amphitheater we were looking at wasn’t actually that old; it had only been built in Roman times. Basically yesterday!

A bit of modern architecture, slapped together by those cheeky Romans.

Pshaw! It’s more-or-less a cheap movie house, and worthy of no more respect and admiration than that. Upstart Romans!

Oooooohhhh, a ROMAN amphitheatre! Whatev’s!

Once we were on the shiny, worn stones of the entry to the Acropolis proper, it really hit me. Wow! It was massive. How the hell did they build such giant stone things on the top of this very big rock, forever ago? Dunno, but they did.

Entering the Acropolis!

Almost everything up there is huge. And perfect, and beautiful in a way that pictures really can’t do justice to. But we’ll try anyway, because as much as I could write a thousand words about every building, one picture……

The view from the top is something a person never gets to experience anywhere else. Nowhere can a person watch the sun bounce off the Myrtoan and the Aegean seas while standing on the Acropolis of Athens… than from the Acropolis of Athens. Check off a major item from the bucket list. I can die happy fairly satisfied now. I’ve taken selfies in front of the Parthenon with my wife and gazed upon the Karytides statues (you know, the ladies holding up that huge stone roof).

On top of the world!
A World Wonder with a view.

Visiting Athens in person and getting to see something as important as the Acropolis has been a major highlight in a life full of many noteworthy things. As cool as they’ve been, though, Athens was so much its own brand of unique that I wouldn’t know what to compare it to. Which is fine, because maybe it doesn’t need to be compared to anything.

We were positively glowing after descending the hill, and hungry, so off we went in search of dinner, which we eventually found after giving up the hope of finding a table at some of the most popular restaurants close by.

No reservations? No way!

But it was alright, because the Tiki Bar, a few blocks from the hubbub of the Acropolis area, took care of us. It’s a super chill little bar/restaurant with decent food and great drinks. I’d be a regular there if I lived in town.

No reservations? No problem!

Chillin’ at the Tiki Bar.

Despite some things I’d previously heard to the contrary, Athens was wonderful. Everyone was friendly; the food and drink were reasonably priced, tasty, and plentiful; our hostel was clean, perfectly located, and inexpensive; the taxis were cheap and honest; and the entire experience was thoroughly enjoyable.

For an overnight visit to an ultra-famous city we’d never seen before, I think we managed our limited time rather well. We’ll certainly be returning to Greece for a few months at least, though most likely we’ll spend most of our time among the islands, as Athens is very hectic and might lose some of its magic after a prolonged stay. But a week or two would be nice.

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