A magical scent of History and Modernization is in the air as I take my first breath after landing at the airport. There is something truly magical about this place. And as I walk through the ruins of an ancient civilization with my swollen feet, heavy legs, scorching heat, I explore this historical sanctuary and think to myself, Perhaps in another life I would have been archeologists, searching for long lost treasures buried by the sands of time. Truly my this trip is another example of that desire to walk in the footsteps of our ancestors. It is hard not to imagine Plato or Socrates walking next to you as you walk along the Parthenon at Acropolis. Seeing the incredible monuments that have survived for thousands of years can sometimes make us question whether civilizations today are truly as superior as we would like to believe them to be. I often end up such debatable self-conversation during my travels and they turn out to be the most educating strolls. Here I am referring to the city known as the birth of Western Civilization-Athens, pronounced as (aa-thens), the capital of Greece.
This is the first day of my four weeks long Europe travel and I decided to start with Greece although my family did not think it was a very good idea due to its reputation created by the media. I landed here around noon from Bahrain, Gulf Air had the best deals to Greece and to my surprise upgraded me to business class at no extra cost . I headed straight to my Airbnb apartment at Sygmora Fix Studio Dimitris (10 minutes walk from Acropolis) On my two days stay here I did not hire any local transport to immerse well into the narrow historical alleys. The best way to discover the city is to walk around.
The street art in Athens is said to be the biggest in the world. You can’t help but notice the excessive amount of graffiti that coats every available surface throughout city, where every available wall, shop front, brick wall or obscure alley is a canvas waiting to be filled with artistic optimism, political reference or social satire. As explained by my local friend, the general view is that the graffiti movement began in New York as a reaction to economic crisis, spreading throughout the world and arriving in Athens around 1992 where artistic murals first began appearing in the outlying neighbourhoods before moving to the centre.
1. The Parthenon: The most comprehensive architectural creation of Athenian democracy, built during a period of the city’s greatest prosperity.
2. The Agora of Athens: the Agora is not important for the splendor of its buildings, but for the significance of its history.
3. Propylaea: A monumental gateway to the Acropolis built of white Pentelic marble.
4. Erechtheion: A building complex from 420 BC, made of Pentelic marble, a unique example of the Ionic order.
5. Temple of Athena Nike: A masterpiece of the Classical era, built by Kallikrates in the Ionic order, with a four-column structure.
6. New Acropolis Museum: Stunning exhibits and architecture: the complete modern museum.
7. Museum of Cycladic Art: Superb exhibits from the ancient Aegean civilisations, with an emphasis on Cycladic period.
8. National Archaeological Museum: The biggest in Greece and one of the most important in the world.
9. National Gallery: Contains more than 15,000 works
I did not visit all as I spent only two days at Athens and was happy with Acropolis and surrounding Old City areas
Practical Tips For Athens
-You can take Metro, Bus or Taxi from the airport. I took taxi for €38 which is a flat rate for range of areas in Athens. If you are taking the metro, get down at ACROPOLIS to visit Parthenon.
-Old city is very convenient to walk. Walk to discover the graffiti laden narrow alleys and al-fresco eateries which is the essence of Athens
– The Acropolis Museum is closed on Mondays
– All archaeological sites and museums are closed on the following dates: 1 January, 25 March, Easter Sunday, 1 May, 25 December and 26 December. But are open on Sundays.
-The Ticket to Acropolis is €20 or €30 (depends how much you want to cover). Free entry for kids unto 18 (carry the age proof)
– Tickets for the metro, train and bus cost € 1,40 and are valid for an hour and a half after purchase on all buses, trains and metro lines. International student card gives discounts on the public transportation tickets (€ 0,70), but NOT on suburban railway, suburban bus or ferry tickets
-If you are staying in the center city, you can easily get there walking, as everything is nearby. If you are a bit further, there are 3 metro stations near the Acropolis: Thesion, Monastiraki and Acropolis and from there is really easy to find it
– Keep in mind that Acropolis is the most visited attraction in the country, thousands of people go there every day. Arriving early as soon as the gate opens is highly advised, to avoid the crowd, as well as high temperatures during the warmer months. Another option is to arrive later in the day
-Indulge in local delicacies like Gyro, Souvlaki at a Taverna restaurant or Cheese Pies and Greek Coffee (Traditional Bakery). The quaint neighborhoods of Anafiotika and Plaka have many inviting cafés and restaurants. But beware of the tourist traps especially at the famous Plaka restaurant staircase
Have you been to Athens?