After relaxing Paros, Athens was an electric shock to the system. Plunged into the heat as we got off the ferry we waded our way through a sea of people to the bus stop. After being haggled by taxi drivers and trying to figure out which bus to get on we were eventually helped by a kind old Greek lady who we communicated with only by hand gestures. Lugging our heavy suitcases through the streets of Athens we finally arrived at our hotel. The aircon was welcomed with open arms and we all just lay still for a while trying to get over the initial trauma of arriving in Greece’s capital.
Once we’d sufficiently cooled down we stepped out into the wall of heat to brave the city. We took a walk through the Plaka district, where our hotel was very conveniently located, passing through Syntagma Square, Ermou street and many market streets. We watched the changing of the guards at the Parliament which was a very funny sight. They were so serious with their tasselled hats and pom-pom shoes. One couldn’t help but having a little chuckle at how ridiculous they looked.
We also saw Hadrian’s arch and the Temple of Zeus in the golden light of the setting sun. We circled through the district at the base of the Acropolis which consisted of tiny alleyways, loads of stray cats and blue and white houses filled with typical Greeks just going about their daily lives. A very quaint neighborhood! It was a lovely introduction to the city and so beautiful in the light of the sunset.
The next day we were up and about early, ready to explore the Acropolis. We were hoping to avoid the crowds of tourists and the blistering heat. We succeeded on the first front getting by with only a small queue for tickets. The heat though was just unforgiving. Within minutes we were wet with sweat and glugging down water. We plugged in our earphones and were led by the voice of Rick Steve in his audio guide on the Acropolis. As always it was super helpful giving lots of interesting information and history in a really comprehensible and accessible way. We saw the Nike temple, Propaylea, the temple of Erechteion and of course the Parthenon. It was amazing walking through the ruins of Ancient Greece and living the history.
That afternoon we did the Plaka street markets justice. Shopping for clothes, leather sandals and all sorts of souvenirs. We also went to the Olympic Stadium which Nic did a tour of. And then enjoyed the leafy vegetation of the National Gardens before making our way to the Plaka district for a final supper. There we bumped into friends of ours from Hout Bay and had dinner together. It was a wonderful evening of laughs and sharing stories from our respective trips. And that was our last night in Greece. After 5 hours of sleep, mom and I were up early to catch our plane to Geneva. We said some very sad goodbyes to Nic and dad who would be returning to Cape Town later that day. And off we went for a final week in France before I had to say goodbye to my mom. It was a very special week of good quality time together resting, doing fun day trips to Thonon-les-Bains, Evian-Les-Bains, Geneva and Annecy and catching up on everything from the past 6 months.
But now it is time for a new season and many new adventures. Summer is here and I know I’ve got the experience of a lifetime waiting in the wings for me.
To read about the rest of my trip in the Cyclades of Greece: