Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I Don't Want to Miss a Thing - Athens, Greece

After an epic journey from Venice, driving to Ancona, taking a 24 hour ferry to Patras and then another long drive, we will end up in Athens, and I can't wait.

Where we will sleep

(Before Santorini) Kokkino Limanaki (Campsite)
How long? 3 nights 
How much? €27.47 per night(2 adults, small tent, 1 motorbike)
Check in? Not specified, but we arrive arould 4pm after departing the overnight ferry from Italy in Patras at 11.30am.
Check out? Not specified, but we have another ferry to catch at 7.25am – this time to Santorini Island.
Why we chose it? Direct access to the beach, wifi, hot showers, BBQs, night guard, 40km/40min drive from centre of Athens - not close, but this could be a bonus. It also has huts for approx 10 Euros more, which will be handy when we return for one night. 

(After Santorini) Hotel Argo-Anita (Hotel)
How long? 1 night
How much? €48 per night (2 adults) 
Check in? 12 noon, but it’s lucky they have 24 hour reception as we don’t arrive until just before midnight, on a ferry from Santorini.
Why we chose it? It's a cute little hotel which is walking distance from the ferry. We get back from Santorini late at night so it's important that we can collapse into bed with no-fuss! Oh and we can park the bike for free.

What we want to see

Walking Tour – we could do a free walking tour (which doesn’t go in to the sites, just around) but with the level of interest I have in this city, I don’t want to miss a thing, so we are paying for a tour with a university-qualified tour guide from Athens Walking Tours. We chose this company because it was really well reviewed by real travelers in several forums.
€36 admission plus €12 for the Acropolis Ticket (admission to the ruins)
9.30am, 3 hours long

Acropolis Ticket - Admission to Beule gate, the Propylaia, the Parthenon, Erechtheion, the Theatre of Dionysus, the Temple of Hephaestus, the Roman Agora, the Tower of the Winds and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. To avoid massive queues, go early or go late.
€12 admission
8am-6.30pm 7 days, varying slightly by the season.

Plaka neighbourhood – the oldest neighbourhood in Athens, under the Acropolis.

Rodon Club – a rock and metal club in Athens, one which has previously played host to epic bands such as Saxon and Sepultura. I can’t find a website for it though, so hopefully we can find the club itself.

National Archaeological Museum – the largest archaeological museum in Greece.
€7 admission
Opening Hours – 1.30pm-8pm Monday, 8.30am-3pm Tuesday-Sunday

Mount Lykavittos (aka Mount Lykabettus) – walk to the top or take a train for €2 per person each way for the best view of Athens, all the way to the Peloponessos. Morning is beautiful, evening is great, but apparently the sunset is indescribable.

Cape Sounion – The southern most tip of the Attica Peninsula and site of the ruins of the Temple of Poseidon. Very highly recommended for the sunset of the Aegean Sea, although an hour away from where we are staying.

Athens Agora – There are three agoras in Athens, two of which stopped running centuries ago. But the third, also known as the Athens Central Market, sell fresh fruit, vegetables and meat on Athinas Street.  

Monastiraki Flea Market – unfortunately we won’t get to see it this time because it’s only on Sundays and we won’t be there on a Sunday. It would definitely be my first stop if we were!

The Arch of Hadrian – a monumental gateway in the heart of Athens.

I want to eat Gyros – which come highly recommended by Courtney’s sister. We’ve heard Viasos Restaurant and Savas Eatery are awesome. It helps that Gyros are €1.50-2 each!

And I want to eat Souvlaki – When in Greece!

We’ve also been told to avoid Omonia – apparently it’s a dodgy suburb.

When we leave Athens and head back to Italy, I want to stop in at Delphi to see the Temple of Apollo.
€6 admission or €9 including the Museum
Opening Hours in Summer are 7.30am-7pm Tue-Sun and 11am-7pm on Mondays. Hours are subject to change without notice.

What we are expecting

OK wow, this is a big one. I’ve heard so many people say they hate Athens or Athens let them down or Athens disappointed them. It actually makes me feel sick with nerves that I might hate it. Classical Studies, the study of Ancient Greece and Rome, is a passion of mine, to the point that I’m planning on continuing my degree in it next year. I’ve dreamt of seeing this place since I was 16.

I’ve talked a lot of how music runs through my veins and make me feel alive. Ancient Civilisations make me feel just as amazing, ever since my Standard 4 (age 10) teacher shared her passion for Ancient Egypt with me. I can’t explain how much I love the history, the genius, the imagining of emperors walking the same streets.

I’m expecting Athens to be uncomfortably hot, dirty, and hazy. I’m expecting it to be busy and crowded. I’m expecting to fall in love. Please don’t let me down Athens!