Thursday, July 21, 2016

A Day in Athens

 Mike knew that he had to head back to Izmir to get ready for the move and flights from Berlin were so much cheaper if you were willing to do a 24 hour layover in Athens.  Originally, I was going to spend the next few days in Athens before Mike came back with the car and we prepared for the move, but the thought of being alone for five days was extremely unappealing and I could see a lot of homesick crying sessions in my future. Athens had been on our list of places to see, but always kept getting pushed back because it was so easy to get to from Izmir.  We regretted not doing Athens sooner because it's a lot farther from Berlin.  So, when this 24 hour layover option presented itself, we jumped on it.   Fun fact: you really only need a day to see Athens. 

We found a hotel right downtown and got there around 8:30 on Thursday night.  If you need a hotel in Athens, we recommend Hotel 360 for sure.  The room was spacious, the bathroom clean and the rooftop bar had a view of the Acropolis.  What more could we ask for?

Since we had limited time in Athens, our day started early.  The sights open at 8am and we knew we wanted to get there around that time for a few reasons.  

One: We didn't have a ton of time and wanted to make sure we could see all of the big stuff. 

Two: It was hot.  It was supposed to be 97 degrees that day and I'm pretty sure it hit 90 around 9:00am.  We were both hot and sweaty all day.  I felt bad for the people sitting around us on the plane. 

Three: The crowds.  It's prime travel season.  We arrived at the the Acropolis' ticket booth a little before 9:00am and it was crowded then.  I can only imagine what it was like in the middle of the day. 

Random ruin in the middle of downtown Athens

You have to hike up to the top of the mountain to see all of the major ruins, but you get a few great views as you're climbing up.

Once we purchased our tickets and made our way through the gates, we turned to our buddy Rick Steves to guide us.  One lesson we learned is that we need to each download the walking tour and wear our own head phones.  Trying to navigate crowds, take pictures and stay connected on head phones is nearly impossible.  That being said, the walking tour was great and was extremely informative.  And the sights?  Oh, they were just as good as you would expect!

Hot, sweaty, and happy to be in Athens

I spy a donkey....

We were so hot afterwards that the only sight we wanted to see was the air conditioned museum.  The museum had a bunch of relics that had been on the acropolis.  The museum was interesting, although there are but so many statues you can look at before they all start to look the same.  After enjoying the air conditioning, we headed back outside.  We found some more ruins....  

There is a huge park in the middle of the city that has walking paths and is completely in the shade.  There are also a lot of wandering turtles....strange, but true. 

By this point, it was around one and it was time to get something (a gyro!!!) to eat, grab our stuff and head to the airport.  I was sad to leave Athens, but really, 24 hours was about the perfect amount of time. We were able to see all of the sights, grab something to eat, and not feel too rushed.  I would recommend if you are planning a trip to Athens, plan it for some other time besides July because it's a scorcher, but really, any day in Athens is a good day! 

This gyro is my hero!