Monday, June 13, 2016

This is Athens // A Greece Travel Diary {Part I}

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” 

Kalimera! {Goodmorning, in Greek}. I'm finally back from my travels in Greece, and I took a few days off just to readjust and get back into my routine at home and work. Greece was a whirlwind of adventure -- it's been on my travel bucket list for years {since middle school} and it was truly a dream to be able to travel there! I'm kicking it off with an Athens round-up, going in consecutive order from the different cities/islands we hit. So read on for more about what we did, what we saw, where we stayed, and a few other tidbits about traveling to Athens.

Day 1//Where we stayed: I traveled to Greece with three of my girl friends, and we had originally booked a place that was closer to the heart of Athens. However, after hearing some not-so-positive things about the current state of Athens, we decided to cancel our reservation and book a place outside of the city. We ended up staying in Paleo Faliro, a beautiful, suburban neighborhood outside of the city and we couldn't have been happier with our choice. We chose to do an AirBnB stay and I highly recommend looking for a place in this area. It was around a 6-7 euro cab ride to all the touristy attractions in the heart of Athens, which we felt was well worth it since we felt very safe staying in Paleo Faliro and had no problems walking around at night {we would never venture out in the dark in the city area of Athens though}. Paleo Faliro is closer to the water, and the AirBnB we stayed at was a quick 5 minute walk to the marina as well as the main street area of the town.

Sunset view from our dinner at Vive Mar

Day 2: Kalimarmaro, Temple of Zeus, Hadrian's Arch, and the Acropolis
 We dedicated the entire day to seeing all of the historical sites and ruins. My favorite was probably the spot pictured above: the original Olympic stadium {Kalimarmaro}. One thing I'll never be able to get over about all of these sites? Everything was made out of marble, and some of the marble detailing is so intricate it left me awestruck.

Temple of Zeus


View of the Acropolis from the Temple of Zeus
Hadrian's Arch

Theatre of Dionysus

The Acropolis

Propylea



Acropolis


Day 3: Monastiraki and Plaka
We spent our last day in Athens doing a little shopping -- we wandered around the Monastiraki Flea market, paid the Poet Sandal Maker a visit, and got lost in beautiful Plaka which is probably my favorite area of Athens. I'll be honest and tell you that Monastiraki Flea Market is not the nicest area and most of the shops sell the same thing. However, I did find a really beautiful leather bag that was handmade in Greece for 30 euros {I bargained it down to two for 50 euros}. If you get the chance, visit Melissinos Art and get yourself a pair of customized Greek sandals. But above all, visit Plaka. It's quaint and charming and you almost forget that you're still in Athens.  








Mount Lycabettus
We returned to Athens on the very last day of our trip since the main airport in Greece for international flights is located in Athens. We also stayed the night in an AirBnB, but this time it was located in the heart of Athens. Comparing our two stays and the two locations, I would recommend Paleo Faliro one hundred times over. The accommodations were much nicer, the space was much larger, and the overall area felt much safer. I would also recommend having a phone that allows international phone calls and data usage. Our life-saving app was Taxibeat, aka the Athens version of Uber. If you can avoid hailing a taxi like you would normally do in NYC, I would because more often than not they will rip you off. 

Overall, I would recommend visiting Athens but for no more than two days. I'd give yourself a day to see the sites and visit the museums, and another day to explore and shop. In terms of safety, it was probably the only place we visited in Greece where I felt on edge and, at times, unsafe. However, it's not as bad as some people make it seem so long as you stay alert and stay smart. Thanks so much for following along...next stop, Mykonos!

Besos,
RC

View from Mount Lycabettus -- if you look closely, you can see Kalimarmaro, the Temple of Zeus, and the Acropolis!

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