Friday, August 26, 2011

The Best View in the World

We didn’t really make the most of our second full day in Athens, spending most of it outside the restaurant at camp using free wifi to communicate with people at home and load photos onto Flickr. I think Athens is best taken in slowly, with plenty of time for sleeping in and dealing with the heat. We never saw the Ancient Agora on the way down from the Acropolis because we were too hot and although we saw everything I was excited to see, if we had air conditioning or a couple of weeks we could have found the motivation to do a lot more.

We did venture out from camp though, around 6pm. We took the bus and metro into a different part of town with the aim of seeing the sunset from Mount Lykabettus, the highest point in Athens. We had been told there was a cable car up to the top for 2 Euro but we didn’t know we had to climb about 4 billion steps to get to the cable car. I am incredibly unfit and it was horrible getting to the top of a set of steps and seeing twice as many unfold before you, previously obscured by trees. We did make it to the top of the steps though, and found the cable car that went the rest of the way. It was 14 Euros return for both of us instead of the 8 we had expected but it was very steep so we were happy to pay it instead of walking.

When we emerged at the top we passed through the lower terraces of a restaurant and climbed even more stairs to the very top, where a little church is perched with the best view in Athens. It is the best view, too. Courts went as far as to say it was the best view he’d seen in his lifetime and I’d definitely say it’s u there. By the time we got to the top we had missed the actual sunset but only by minutes and a brilliant red glow had taken over the city, filling the sky with fire that faded into a purple haze over the islands on the horizon.

As the glow deepened and darkened we treated ourselves to hot chocolate and frappes (that cost as much as some of the meals on the menu), in order to secure a table on the edge of the terrace with a view of the Acropolis far below. A new golden glow began to brighten the buildings of the Acropolis as the fire in the sky sunk away behind the islands. A few minutes later the harsh hillsides lit up with green which then changed to gold as the gold of the buildings brightened. By the time it was dark, the Acropolis was lit up brightly, mountain and all, and the lights of the city joined it as street lights came on and office buildings shone through their windows.

The breeze lost its heat and started ringing the bells of the church and so we went back down the hill and found a little eatery that served traditional Greek souvlaki and spinach pie at normal prices, which is what we had for dinner. Our campsite had told us the taxi home would be 8 Euro but when we discovered it was actually 18 it was too late to do anything different and so a crazy Greek taxi driver drove us home. Even if the walk up Mount Lykabettus hadn’t tired us out I think we would have slept as soundly just knowing we survived the ride.