Finally, Ben and I meet up at Athens airport in Greece. We haven’t seen each other for more than 2 months. I was excited as I had looked forward to this moment very much. Solo travel is fun, but travelling with someone special is an incomparable experience in life. 🙂
Now, we are in one of the most romantic countries in the world: Greece.
Greece is a dream destination for many people including myself. Since I was a kid, I always think of Greece as a romantic and mysterious place, and I still think so. It has some of the most beautiful sceneries that I have ever seen, and I have also fulfilled one of my dreams here.
But, Greece is very poor. The Greek government went bankrupt owing a massive amount of debt. So do not expect good services when you go to restaurants or shops, as the citizens here may not be as happy as you think.
Arriving in Athens
Our first stop in Greece is Athens, the capital of Greece. We stayed in Athens for 2 nights at Ilissos Hotel. This hotel is well-located in a quiet area with many shops and restaurant nearby; we only need to walk 10-20 minutes to the city centre. From the hotel, we can see the view of the city and a ‘small acropolis’:
Acropolis of Athens
Acropolis is an ancient and defensive citadel built on the rocky mound or high hill of the city in Greece, where important temples were built on it. Although there are many acropoleis in Greece, the Acropolis of Athens is so significant and was usually just referred to Acropolis. So when you say ‘Acropolis’, people assume you mean the ‘Acropolis of Athens’.
Today, Acropolis is the most famous attraction in Athens. The important architectures in Acropolis of Athens are the Parthenon, the Propylaia, the Erechtheion and the Temple of Athena Nike.
It was a hot day. We walked up the hill, a bit tiring… Luckily we can see a great view of the city along the way.
Screaming to the sky~ ah ah
When we finally reached Acropolis at 4pm+, we saw many people around… But it wasn’t too bad. The best way to avoid the crowd at any attractions in Europe is: either come very early in the morning (before 10 am) or in the late afternoon (after 4 pm).
The most famous building in Acropolis is Parthenon. The Parthenon is almost 2500-year-old. As you can see in the photo below it is now in construction. It was built in only 9 years but it has been in construction for 40 years! Incredible.
Back view of Parthenon… Looks like Ben is confused by me… 🤔
Below is Erechtheion!
Behind us is the Propylaia!
The entrance ticket to Acropolis of Athens costs €20 per adult (or €30 euro for a multi-site ticket). It was €12 in the past but they increased the price in recent years, so they can fund the construction of the Parthenon.
We did not visit Acropolis museum. We know that it is one of the most famous attractions in Athens, but we just do not want to visit… so what? 💩
Free Walking Tour in Athens
Our tour guide was Michael. He was really good. In addition to the information that the normal tours would cover, he also gave his view about Athens.
In my opinion, a good tour guide should not talk only facts (since we can find this info online), but also express some opinions and give recommendations. I want to know how locals think of the place that I am visiting.
We gave a tip of €20 to Michael and Ben wrote a good review for him on Tripadvisor. I can feel that Ben really like him a lot…
Agora of Athens
We did not come across Agora until It was recommended by Michael. Agora means the central spot in ancient city-states in Greece. The Agora of Athens is only 10 minutes walking distance from Acropolis. The most popular things to see in Agora is the museum and temple.
I am not so interested in museums and we did not spend too much time here… Here is a selfie photo in front of the museum 🙂
This is a very well-preserved Greek temple. I think it looks very similar to Parthenon, except this has 6 pillars (Parthenon has 8 pillars) and it is complete (Parthenon is forever in construction)! 😂
Actually there are more things to see in Agora, but we did not see all of them because the weather was too hot!
Exploring Athens… 🙂
I don’t like the desserts in Greece as they are too sweet for me. Anyway below is a photo of me having a lot of Greek desserts…
We visited Temple of Zeus (from a distance). The entrance fee is only €2 per person to get closer to the temple, yet we don’t feel it is worthwhile and did not pay for it. Personally, I prefer Arch of Hadrian, located very close to the Temple of Zeus and is free of charge.
We asked a grandma to take a photo for us. She was very kind as she did her best to take a few photos for us under the hot sun… love this photo so much 🙂
We witnessed the changing of the Guard (Evzones) in front of the Parliament building on Syntagma Square. The Syntagma Square is the central square of Athens.
Many people wanted to take a photo with the guards. The guards were standing straight and look like a statue, but one of them got angry when a lady touched him accidentally when taking a photo with him. This makes me a bit nervous, so I have to be very careful not to touch him… (standing straight)
I like sitting down in a café, drinking coffee and listening to the music performed by buskers. It was very relaxing.
Monastiraki (flea market)
Monastiraki is the flea market in Athens. My tour guide said I can tell other people I have been to Istanbul in Turkey as they look very similar (asked me to lie?? 😨). There are many shops and restaurants here. The restaurants here are cheaper than other places, and the food is good.
How about Plaka? The Plaka is a bit similar to Monastiraki with many shops and restaurant. In fact, Plaka is a very popular place for tourists because most of the travel guide books recommended it as a ‘locals place’. But, our tour guide told us that the locals hardly go to Plaka, instead they go to Monastiraki which is a cheaper choice.
I think Plaka is more high class. The stuff sold here are not cheap as they are mainly targeting tourists. Also, you can find some high-end restaurants in Plaka;
on the other hand, you can get some good bargains in Monastiraki. However, I feel unsafe here as this area is chaotic and I believe there are many pickpockets here.
A small story: I fall in love with the beautiful red dress at first sight that I saw in Monastiraki during the tour. Later, Ben helped me to look for it and we found it. It was €32!! I bargained to €23 in the end; my bargaining skill was very poor yet I get almost 1/3 of the price reduction. It makes me suspect that everything in Monastiraki is heavily mark-up. In the end, Ben bought the dress for me. 🙂
I also bought two minions shirts for €20. Ben tried to bargain to €8, and the shopper was pissed off and ignored us. Obviously, he is not talented in bargaining as well…
Food in Athens
I really love the food in Athens.
We had a ‘mini party’ at our hotel. We bought gyros, souvlaki, fries, coke… oh, my god, they were so delicious! It seems that we ordered too much for two people. 😅 But we did a good job finishing the food.
I also had the best meal on my entire Europe trip – tapas at Kafeneio Ivis. It was super delicious, especially the grilled cheese. And it was not expensive: below €20 for two people. The dishes were actually quite salty but I love it. I hope I can eat such good food again.
We then have a similar meal in a Greek restaurant in Monastiraki on the next day, because the grilled cheese was so good. Ben looks shy on the photo below…
Goodbye Athens… 🙂
To be honest, I did not have a high expectation for Athens before the trip. I thought it was just ‘another city’; I was more looking forward to the islands in Greece. But surprisingly, I had a really great time in Athens. Maybe this is all about travelling with the right person. This is a very relaxing trip as well as an educational trip. I learnt a lot about Greece.
The UBER driver told us that the services in Athens are not good, but so far the people that we met were not bad. So how can I not love Athens? We had really good food in Athens and the view was stunning. I may not be smart enough to appreciate the ancient sites, but I do think the Acropolis and Agora are interesting and worth a visit. Also, I love shopping in Monastiraki and bought the lovely dress. We took many photos that I will never forget.
A photo at Athens airport. Waiting for the Ryanair flight to the next destination.
A small story about the flight: Ben booked the flights through eDreams (the middleman). Unfortunately, eDreams messed it up and did some dumb arrangements, so Ben changed the schedule and bought a separate flight ticket. At Athens airport, Ben sorted out the flights with the airline’s company (Aegean Airlines) directly. Ben was so happy till he shakes hand with the airline’s staff. But I was happier because he doesn’t mind spending more money to ensure we will have a pleasant trip.
OK… Next, we are heading to one of the most romantic places on the planet: Santorini 🙂