Athens, June 2-4

Athens Travel Blog

 › entry 1 of 10 › view all entries
I arrived in Athens following an eight-hour plane ride from Washington, DC to Paris and a four-hour connection from there. I did not manage to get any sleep the entire journey, although I managed to snag a seat with about ten feet of leg room, making the plane ride more comfortable. I people-watched in Paris airport after finding my gate...the international terminal there is awful. The gates are all lined up one after the other, and the terminal itself is only about thirty feet wide. When people line up for their flights, they get in the way of people trying to walk farther down the terminal. You have to push your way through line after line of people trying to board their planes. As soon as I found my gate, I sat down and relaxed for a couple of hours, after getting an espresso.

At around 3:00 p.m. on June 2nd, I arrived in Athens airport, and found my way to the train that connects it with the city. I discovered that the "blue line" that connects the airport to the stop that I was getting off at was not yet up and running...still under construction. I had to take another line and switch at a station north of the city. It was not difficult at all, and at around 4:15 I got off at Monastiraki station in the heart of Athens. I quickly got my bearings and headed up to my hotel, the Hotel Cecil. The room was small, and somewhat old-fashioned, but it was fine. I dropped off my bags and immediately headed out to stroll around the city. I realized within about 25 minutes that I did not like Athens. It was street after street of crappy souvenir shops and vendors on the curb selling knock-off belts, wallets, sunglasses, etc. It was extremely smoggy, hectic, and dirty. After two hours of walking around, I sat down at a cafe and ordered dinner: ground beef kebobs. They were actually quite tasty and were worth the 7 euro I paid. I went back to the hotel and fell asleep at around 8:30...a bad mistake since I woke up at 1 a.m. wide awake and lay in bed all night because of jet lag.

The next morning, after grabbing an espresso at a sidewalk cafe near my hotel, I met up with Megan Miller, a former employee of my dad's who had just finished a three-week guided tour of several European countries. Athens was her first stop after splitting off from the group. We met outside the train station and began the walk up to the Acropolis. It was somewhat strenuous, but not too far. The entrance fee to get up onto the Acropolis was 12 euro per person. We paid and walked up through hundreds of people, mostly older couples in large groups from cruise ships. The Acropolis itself was kind of disappointing. Most of the buildings are covered in dense, ugly scaffolding and you are not allowed within 50 feet of any of them. It was brutally hot, and there was no shade. I got some pictures of the Parthenon and other buildings, but was not as impressed or moved as I expected to be around one of the ancient wonders of the world. There were some great views of Athens, which is extremely congested and bigger than it seems. Unfortunately, due to a bad accident with my camera the next day, the pictures are now nonexistent.

We walked down from the Acropolis and had to avoid about 20 different restaurant owners who all tried to pull us into their respective establishments. By this time, I was counting down the minutes I had to remain in Athens. We stopped at a small cafe/restaurant type place and got a snack. I had feta cheese with bread, which was very good. After that, we headed up to the Greek Parliament building and watched the changing of the guards out front. It was a very interesting thing to watch, and I was able to notice similarities between it and the changing of the guard at Arlington National Cemetary. Megan and I then split up. She headed off to meet some friends and talk to her tour guide one last time, I walked around for a bit more, had some dinner, and feel asleep at 8 p.m. again. I woke up at 2 a.m. and was wide awake until morning.

I checked out of Hotel Cecil at around 5:30, walked down to Monastiraki station and got on the train to Piraeus, the port that is west and a bit south of Athens. The train ride was about 40 minutes long, and I got to Piraeus station at around 6:30, an hour before my ferry to Naxos was due to depart. I had bought a ticket the day before while strolling around Athens, so I was prepared. As soon as I walked out of the station, I saw my boat, a massive Blue Star Ferry with "Naxos" written on the side. Couldn't have been easier than that, right? I got on the ferry, ordered an espresso, and sat down on the top deck at the very back of the ferry. I was about 100 feet above the water and was able to watch people and trucks scurrying around the already hectic streets. Megan and I found each other by chance on the ferry, and sat together during the 6-hour trip, which was more enjoyable than I expected. Although the ferry did lurch around to some extent, I never felt seasick or queasy. The views were quite nice, as we passed dozens of small islands and miles of dark blue water. Again, the pictures of this were ruined along with the camera.
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
photo by: Johnpro