After surviving the sardine tin of Santorini airport (the building is tiny and unable to cope with all the tourists!) we took a surprisingly pleasant and short Olympic Air flight to Athens. Definitely can’t complain about that £20 flight.
A tiny bathroom and private courtyard in the sky
We stayed in two Air BnBs in Athens and a hotel in Delphi in between. The first Air BnB was conveniently located close to the Acropoli station and also to all the main attractions.
Our room was on the top level, the ‘penthouse’, and we even had our own very cute courtyard which was perfect for a cheeky beer or wine after an afternoon of exploring. Our first Air BnB host had the beers covered, as the fridge was filled with complimentary food and drink for us to enjoy. The cherry on the top was of course the fact that we had our own private view of the Parthenon on top of the Acropolis.
One somewhat interesting experience was the bathroom, which was super small. You could barely move in the bathroom: the toilet, a small sink, and ‘shower’ were all crammed in. The whole bathroom was about the size of a regular shower, and actually was the shower! You were expected to stand next to the sink and toilet while showering. It was impossible not to get water all over the bathroom. Somehow it sort of worked, but it was very bizarre!
Our second Air BnB was in the cute leafy neighbourhood of Koukaki and had a massage chair that we definitely enjoyed!
One ticket to rule them all
After looking at all the various options to see Athens’s ancient sites, we decided upon the €30 combo ticket, which granted us entry to the Acropolis as well as some of the other main archaeological sites in Athens such as Hadrian’s Library, the Ancient Agora, the Roman Agora, and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. At €30 it was quite reasonable.
We visited all the sites that our ticket granted us access into. We enjoyed wandering around all the ruins, but we thought that with some investment the sites could be made even more interesting. For example, it would be really amazing if there were some kind of virtual reality/holographic recreations of the buildings so it is easier to imagine what was once there.
Also, after exploring a few ruins, we hate to say it, but they all started to look quite similar. Of course, they all have quite different and fascinating histories, and these histories should be more prominently highlighted. Jostling with other tourists in the sun to read the odd shiny sign was not ideal – even though it was late summer, it was still very hot (30+ degrees Celsius) and it didn’t take long before we craved the shade!
In the evenings we happily strolled around the city and the large National Garden. It was so lovely to be able to enjoy the long light-filled evenings.
The Parthenon, the Acropolis, and the Acropolis Museum
As it’s the star attraction of Athens, we made sure to arrive at the entrance of the Parthenon at opening time. It was a good idea as there was no line and we were some of the first people to enter the site. The Acropolis was much more atmospheric and calm in the morning. We had about 30 minutes of serenity before the tours and crowds started to pour in.
There were tour guides available, but instead we decided to explore by ourselves. We probably would recommend a guide though because there wasn’t much information around.
The view from near the Parthenon was stunning! Such an amazing 360 degree panorama of the city.
Annoyingly when we visited one of the slopes was closed off. However, we don’t think we missed anything major. We managed to climb up Areopagus – a craggy hill that was a court in classical times and the site of a famed speech by Saint Paul in 51 CE. Apparently there were also buildings there at one point.
The Acropolis Museum
You aren’t allowed to take photos in the museum (that of course doesn’t stop people who blatantly ignore the rules and were often told off by staff policing the museum). We don’t go regularly visit museums, but this is a wonderful museum that’s well worth the visit and we would definitely recommend you go if you are in Athens. The had a lot of artifacts from the ancient history of the site.
On reflection, we think that perhaps it might have been better sequentially if we had visited the museum before going up to the Parthenon, but you can do it either way around.
Food, glorious Greek food
We know, we talk about food a lot. But, when a country has amazing food we can’t help but rave about it! We would got back to Greece for the food alone. Not only was the food in Athens tasty, but it was also cheap! The wine was also very good value.
We were lucky enough to find an amazingly cheap local establishment near our first Air BnB. We feasted there several times since we enjoyed it so much. A meal like that back home would cost at least twice as much!
Athens is an interesting sprawling city with amazing food and cultural attractions on offer. By contrast, our final destination, Delphi, was a more relaxed sleepy countryside town. But, we’ll talk more about that in our next post!
Jason and Kimmie