Athens was a whirlwind of heat, history, and protesters. It all began with a happy reunion in the arrivals terminal between my mom and I, having said goodbye six weeks before. We were not, however, joined by my mother’s luggage, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise since the country-wide taxi strike forced us to reach our hotel by arduous journey of bus, subway, and foot. “At least the strike is saving us some cash!” sang my always-looking-at-the-bright-side Mom. Having spent the night sleeping in a London’s airport rather than pay for a cab (the subways in London shut down at midnight! Am I the only one shocked by this?!), and looking forward to being whisked to the hotel by car I was not as amused by this deviation from my luxury vacation plan.
Soon we arrived in our lovely hotel, The Athens Gate, and any hint of a bad mood was forgotten. I had agonized over what hotel we should stay in for our two nights in Athens, drooling over trendy design hotels and rooftop pools, but in the end my Mom’s sensibly convinced me that for such a short stay location was king. And with a ten minute walk to the Acropolis and the Temple of Zeus out our window- we couldn’t have asked for much better lest we stayed in the Parthenon itself.
Even better than the view from the window? The view from the rooftop restaurant!
Despite our anxiousness to get out and start exploring, I took an hour to catch up on blogging first. Just look at that dedication! (Be impressed, guys, okay? I really thrive on praise.)
After jumping around the hotel room for a bit with excitement and disbelief that our endless planning (we are both detail oriented travel planners that spend hours poring over Tripadvisor reviews) was finally coming to fruition, we braved the heat to enjoy our first afternoon in Athens. First stop, the City Sightseeing Tour, of course! I swear, these guys should be paying me now as this was my fourth trip of the summer. There are two lines on the Athens tour, the Red Line that covers the highlights of the city (including the Acropolis, The National Gardens, the New Acropolis Museum, etc) and the Blue Line that goes to the pier town of Pireaus. For a few Euro extra we purchased the Blue Line add-on but in retrospect I don’t recommend it. It’s basically for ferrying people to and from the cruise ships and the tour is quite boring. I could go ahead and blame the jetlag but I won’t- we both fell asleep. Just do the Red Line.
We didn’t do any hopping on and off but rather used the tour as a way to get our bearings around the city and get an overview while not exerting too much energy- did I mention that my Mom had just got off a twelve hour flight and I spent the previous night on the floor of Heathrow?
The tour also gave us a good vantage point to observe some of the protests and strikes going on around the city (little did we know how prominently these would feature in our time in Greece…) Anyone who can read Greek want to shed a little light on what these say?
Exhausted from travel, we decided to call it an early night and save our energy for the next day. We ended the first day of our adventure with a drink on the roof of our hotel, soaking in the amazing views again. I marveled at what it would be like to live in a city like this, with a piece of ancient civilization visible from every corner, a reminder of what an important place in history your ancestors had. As amazing as New York City may be, we don’t exactly get to look around and see culminations of architectural and artistic genius from 400BC. (Giant rats, on the other hand? Yes, we do see those).
Stay tuned for Part II of 48 Hours in Athens!