Athens is the capital and largest city of Greece. It is one of the world’s oldest cities, with its recorded history spanning over 3,400 years and its earliest human presence starting somewhere between the 11th and 7th millennium BC.
This city was to be our stopover twice as part of our month-long backpacking trip of Europe.First time it was exploratory and second time to catch the flight to India after vacationing in Santorini.
Athens Airport provides cabs at fixed price to tourists
We were excited to be in the historic city of Athens from Thessaloniki, another beautiful city in Greece.
As we got off the plane, it took them forever to open the gates. Then we collected our luggage and spoke to our host at Natasha’s Home. She told us to take a cab as it would have costed us the same in the bus, being four people.
So, we came out of the airport and walking towards cab. On the way some people offered to take us to our apartment for an exorbitantly high price of 100 euros and said it’s the fixed price. But we kept walking and saw the Airport’s taxi bay. We got the cab there for 38 euros and it was written there that that’s the fixed price.
We too had learnt a few lessons in the last few weeks in Europe and stopped taking things at face value. The 42-kilometres drive through Athens to Natasha’s Home was a good drive till we hit city traffic. But that has its own charm.
The lovely Natasha’s Home and the Host
As we reached our apartment in Athens it was in narrow lanes. Wasn’t sure if the cab will go till there but it did. Once there, we met the host… a very lovely lady who made us feel welcome.
She had ensured there was everything – wifi, adapter, fan, food, milk, food and also got us water bottles. We were very touched. It felt like being back home.
After that we decided to go out, explore the area on foot and eat some local food. We decided to have dinner at home with all the lovely stuff our host had kept for us.
What is for lunch
So, we started our walk towards the market not sure where to go but follow the girl who we had termed as our human GPS. The distance had seemed much less when in car.
While walking, we found a bakery, so just stopped to have croissant and other delicacies and fresh orange juice.
Everything, including the orange juice, were freshly prepared and tasted yummy.
Grocery shopping for dinner
On the way back, we stopped at the departmental store to pick up veggies and fruits.
The area was nice and we could have walked much longer had it not been so sunny and roads at one level. The entire area seemed full of roads at different levels. One can just get fit by walking around this area and climbing up and down the roads.
Enjoying the lovely apartment
After coming back from scorching heat, of which we had gotten out of habit in last few weeks, we decide to leave when the sun is a bit down to go to the market and then Acropolis. Till then we wanted to enjoy the place and the lovely balcony.
One girl went earlier as she had to see the temple of Olympian Zeus too. We had decided to connect when she finishes/ when we leave.
As we left the apartment and asked a local for directions, he told us the market we were asking for was in the opposite direction of Acropolis but there is another market near Acropolis and we could check that one out. We went straight to market near Acropolis itself so we don’t get late for Acropolis.
Exploring the Market near Acropolis
After checking a few shops, buying some local Jewellery and fridge magnets, we still had time before going to Acropolis at 5pm and our fourth friend was also 20 minutes away. We decided to sit at a café and have a beer. For a change, in Athens, the beer was expensive and cola was cheaper. We ordered a French-fries but they were pathetic.
By then, the fourth girl also came and decided to go to the nearby Museum first and then join us at the Acropolis. But the museum closes at 3.30pm and starts at 8pm in the morning, so we all went to Acropolis together.
Time to relive the history
We took 20 Euro ticket which gave us access to Acropolis Wall and the Theatre of Dionysus.
We were so looking forward to this but were quite disappointed as there was restoration going on and there were huge machines everywhere. The view got distracted and didn’t seem beautiful like in pictures we had seen.
The only respite was the good city view one got from here.
There were preparations for a performance going on in the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, A Second-Century Theater in the historical complex.
It seemed like a musical with puppets… and interesting concept.
Exploring the market around Acropolis
Once we came out, we were very hungry but had to eat dinner at home so decided to have light snacks. We had pita veggie and French fries because they had red chilli powder. Hahahahah! I ordered a green cola but it was too sweet. I guess their Green Cola and our Diet Coke are similar things.
Then we went around exploring the local market further. The shops mostly had leather stuff, souvenirs, linen clothes and olive products. Most of the things were very expensive and the quality wasn’t great for the price charged.
Time to cook Dinner
After sometime we came back to apartment as it started raining and we wanted to have dinner. In fact, we were quite excited to cook dinner as our host had got some really interesting stuff in the kitchen.
One home, we made mushroom stir fry, omelette, sautéed Veggies, bread poha plus we had some ready stuff which we had picked up from the departmental store in the afternoon.
Calling it a day
We didn’t know our host was an early sleeper and a light one too. After dinner, we went up to her as we needed printouts. She got up and did that for us. In fact, she also booked the cab for us for next morning. She also wrote the address of destination in a sheet and gave us saying- what if I don’t wake up from my sleep tomorrow. A jolly woman who will always stay in my memories!
After that we all cleaned the kitchen, packed and slept to be able to catch the early morning ferry tomorrow. We were excited to finally be reaching Santorini. We had heard so much about it.
Bidding goodbye to Natasha’s Home and lovely Host
Next morning, our host was up before us as the cab driver came much before the scheduled time. She informed us of his arrival and saw us off.
Wow… Such a big Ferry or are we on a cruise
As we reached ferry, we were a little taken aback. I was definitely expecting a big covered boat with seats similar to ferries in Hongkong and Dubai.
But this was a cruise ship with restaurants, multiple sitting areas, theatre, etc. We all got into the ship, left our luggage downstairs at the designated slot and went up. People actually came in cars and parked them inside the ship.
Enjoying the Ferry Ride
Initially we inside for a while but then went out to enjoy the sunrise and the beautiful scenery around.
There was a cafe called FloCafe and a food joint called Goody’s Burger in the ship with multiple outlets within the ship on the different floors and also a shopping area.
We had butter croissant, hot chocolate and a special caramello 10 wine
From Flocafe. The wine was nice but its bottle was quite interesting and that’s why we had bought it. For lunch we had pasta napolitana and veg club sandwich from Goody’s Burger.
Apparently, the ferry has different categories of passengers like in flights. I didn’t know it then, so I went and sat in a seating lounge as it had recliner seats and wanted to put my feet up. Its only when I came out, I realised I was sitting in Business class. Thank God, no one came and questioned or it would have been quite embarrassing.
Waiting to reach Santorini eagerly
The journey was 8-hours long and we were quite excited initially but after sometime there was nothing to do, so were waiting to reach Santorini.
People came in with pets too and carried them in some interesting ways.
And… we are in Santorini Finally
As we were reaching Santorini, we came down and collected our luggage and waited in long queues before the ferry was anchored and the huge gates were opened. It felt surreal like a scene from a movie where we were all trapped till now and were now about to be released.
But we didn’t bother about that… the fact we were in Santorini was more exciting!
And the next blog will reflect that!