What Athens in the Parthenon, stays in the Parthenon…ahh there I go again with the puns..sorry can’t help it!
The Incoming Flight
Our flight into Athens went swimmingly, we flew via Ryanair and arrived into Athens at 22:55. From Hungary (click to read now) to Greece there is actually an hour time change so though the flight was slated for three hours it was only actually two. I’m pretty sure we were all passed out during this flight – well at least I know Jocelyn and James definitely were since they had spent their day getting their day drink on in Budapest.
Transportation to the City Center
Anyway, we went to the nearest public transportation stand to purchase bus tickets (in euros – finally we could use euros) We purchased two tickets for the Bus X95 to Syntagma Square. This option was by far the cheapest – but definitely the slowest. I imagine if we had paid for a taxi it would have taken much less time, but we’re broke, college students so the hour-long ride was fine by us. Now once we got to Syntagma Square we could either walk 30-40 minutes to our Air BNB or take a tram and cut that time to 10 minutes. In order to use the tram, you must first purchase a ticket at a kiosk then wait by the tram stop. It was quite difficult to find the tram stop and that late at night finding someone that spoke English was proving even more difficult. We had wasted maybe 30 minutes looking for this stop when turns it out it was just across the street from where we stood – however, luck wasn’t on our side. We had just missed the tram and had to wait about 15 more minutes for the following tram.
We were kind of in a rush to get to our Air BNB because our host was kind enough to wait up and let us in and we didn’t want to keep her too long, especially considering we didn’t even get to the city center until near midnight. Finally, we got to our Air BNB and met our host Luisita (I highly recommend staying with her if you do an AirBNB in Athens) who was the sweetest host. She even provided us with some oatmeal, containers of drinking water, jam and crackers! It was a lovely apartment with everything we could need and Luisita’s kindness and hospitality is something I will always remember. If you find yourself on Air BNB be sure to use my code and save yourself $40 on your next trip! Click here to save mula $$$$
The next day we were up and about by 8 am because we wanted to get to the Acropolis before it got busy. On our walk there we realized the areas just outside of the “tourist area” were rather sketchy looking, and there was tons of graffiti everywhere. However, once you entered the touristy area the city looked much more pleasant. We did manage to come across some very interesting street art once we got deeper into the tourist area. Take a look.
Also, the streets and neighborhoods began to look more “Greek” and less like the Bronx.
I read online that hiking up to the Acropolis is quite a trek, and exhausting – and I wholeheartedly have to disagree with this. Maybe it was because I was growing accustomed to walking 15+ miles, but it was a breeze, more like a nice elevated stroll up to the Acropolis hill. While trekking to the top I managed to get this awesome photo of the Temple of Hephaestus. I spent a good chunk of an hour walking through a park trying to find this temple, and to no avail – we couldn’t figure out how to get to the entrance, but that’s for later.
At about 8:45 am we were at the entrance of the Acropolis to pay for our tickets.
Pro Tip #1: EU STUDENTS GET IN FOR FREE!
Pro Tip #2: Go in the winter and early in the morning – the crowds are minimal and you can browse the Acropolis at your pleasure.
Obviously, we all showed our U.K. student ID cards to get our free ticket. Yes, BREXIT did happen – but technically the U.K. is part of the EU for the next few years until everything gets sorted out. If you ever want to visit Athens, I HIGHLY recommend it doing it WHILE a student, and preferably while an EU student! Almost everything we did was free because of this. If you’re not an EU student, you still get a discount with a valid student card.
As you enter the Acropolis you make your way gradually up the rest of the hill and past various ruins that comprise the Acropolis hill.What surprised me about the Acropolis was that actually very few buildings were still intact – for some reason, I had the notion that many of them were still distinguishable but in fact, most were just scattered remnants. The ones I’ve highlighted in this post are mainly the distinguishable buildings. Another fact, that surprised me the most – is that many of these ruins aren’t the original ruins. Due to constant restoration and preservation, many columns, statues and such have been removed to be placed in museums and substituted with fakes.
The first we came across, was stunning. Behold the Odeon of Herodes.
The next major ruin we saw were the main entrance leading into the Acropolis known as the Propylaea. To the very right of the first picture you can spot the Temple of Athena Nike.
Here we are immediately after crossing through the Propylaea:
While walking around the Acropolis you really get a great view of the city below and the mountains beyond, plus if you looked hard enough behind me in the photo below you can see a peak of the ocean.
The next major monument we saw, was the famous Parthenon. I was stunned by how large the temple was. It’s mind blowing that people moved these columns and towers together to create such a magnificent building back in the day without the aid of cranes and modern technology.
Also at the Acropolis is The Old Temple of Athena (visible to the left of the building) and The Erechtheum. Check it out.
Just behind the Parthenon, are ruins that had Greek inscriptions which I thought looked beautiful.
One of my favorite pictures that I took at the top of Acropolis hill was the Athenian landscape with the Grecian flag in the forefront.
We came across The Theater of Dionysus Eleuthereus, on the lower end of the Acropolis which had some beautifully carved statues. By this point, we were pretty much done looking at ruins, and our timing couldn’t have been more perfect. A large 50 person tour came through and it got rather loud and crowded rather quickly. It definitely pays to be the early bird at the Acropolis hill.
Pro Tip #3: Before you leave the Acropolis, make sure you’ve seen every single thing you wanted to see – because once you exit you cannot re-enter unless you pay.
Ruins located outside of the Acropolis
While walking throughout the city we came across The Arch of Hadrian. Just under the archway you can spot the Acropolis hill back in the distance.
The Arch of Hadrian is located right before the entrance to see the Temple of Zeus. Be warned, it does NOT look like Disney’s Hercules – to my disappointment 😦 though it is still stunning.
Pro Tip #4: EU students can see The Temple of Zeus for FREE!
A short ten-minute walk from the Temple of Zeus, we came across THE Olympic Stadium of Greece. It was pretty cool to see an Olympic Stadium, but of all places, in Greece. Sadly, this was not free to enter for EU students, BUT you did get a discount. I believe a ticket was about €5. We opted to just view it from the outside.
Following the Olympic Stadium, we walked over to The Ancient Agora or the Roman Forum where we saw more…. ruins. You guessed it. Again, this was free for EU students.
By this point, we had seen all the ruins we could for the day and opted to window shop and walk through the city center. Every time we walked down a street past a restaurant the person standing outside would immediately try to convince you to come in and eat. It was like walking through a row of car dealerships, they were trying so hard. Also, we realized after spending the day walking through Athens, there are a LOT of p*nises graffitied everywhere – and then it culminated when we came across a store that SOLD p*nis key chains..for what reason?! I don’t know..
After we were done strolling through the shops, we tried to see if we could find Temple of Hephaestus mentioned earlier. We managed to find the fence, that bordered the park in which it was located and figured if we followed it all the way around we would eventually come to the entrance. Well turns out, no that didn’t work. We could not find the entrance for the life of us, but we could see people walking around inside and it was killing me to figure out how to get in there. BUT the plus side, on our walk through the park a stray dog befriended us and walked us through the entire park. Once we got to the end of the park she left us and went back into the park, it was the cutest thing.
The Good Eats
At this point, it was approaching 3 o clock, and we were starving as we hadn’t eaten since breakfast.
We settled on ATITAMOS for lunch, they had great reviews on trip advisor, offered authentic Greek food, and spoke English. They did not disappoint, the food was delicious, affordable and the staff extremely friendly. They gave us free samples of some sort of alcohol (that ended up being pawned off to James) and free dessert tasters – score!
I ordered the lunch special of the day – Moussaka, which is like an eggplant lasagna of sorts. James got freshly grilled octopus legs, and we ordered a side of olives. The jam was delicious and fruity of sorts, it tasted almost like guava jam.
After our lunch, we decided to head back to the AIRBNB, grab some showers and freshen up and then relax a little before heading back out that night for dinner. I was surprised actually because it was only 4 pm and we had managed to see pretty much everything we wanted to see. Also, we were somewhat exhausted from all the walking we had done – so we might have been a little deterred to exploring any more than we did ha!
Later that night we went out to dinner at Savvas. It was another highly rated trip advisor option. They were absolutely delicious – though rather busy, and affordable. We were fortunate to get a table indoors in the warmth. We ordered a baklava as we weren’t that hungry, and Jocelyn and Eli each got a falafel meal. Oh my goodness, the hummus was absolutely amazing.
Transportation back to the airport
We were up at about 3 am the following morning so we could get the X95 bus back to the airport. The bus runs about every hour, so if you’re in a time crunch – best to be there early and catch the bus you need. The ticket for the airport bus needs to be bought a specific kiosk and NOT where you purchase regular public transportation tickets. It should cost you about €5. Don’t do what we did…we bought public transportation tickets, and then realized they weren’t good for the X95 bus. The ride back was about an hour long and had more stops. It seemed that a lot of commuters used this bus to get out of the city. Once we got to the airport we got through security just fine and we were on a plane ready to take off at 7 am for Rome, Italy!
Miles Walked: 14.1 mi, 12/13/16.
Total Cost James and I: $113.51 on prepaid flight and accommodation, €52.90 in Athens.
- Euros spent: €52.90
- USD spent: $113.51
- Beginning balance of Euros: €681.68
- Total Euros spent: €52.90
- Ending balance of Euros: €628.78
Breakdown of costs
Prepaid Flight Cost:
***ALL 9 Flights Totaled Roughly $301 ea. This portion:
- Flights to Athens: $89.51 per 3/22/17 conversion rates
- BUD-ATH 19:55-22:55 for James and I
- 25458.00 HUF = £71.71 GBP = $89.51
- Pre-paid accommodation for two nights:$24
- $48 for the four of us, so $24 for James and I at 2 nights
Cost Incurred in Athens:
- Post Card: €1
- Food: €23.50
- Grilled Octopus €8.50
- Mousaka €6
- Olives €5
- Baklava €4
- Transportation: €28.40
- X95 Bus: €6ea, €12 per 1 trip, €24 total
- Tram Tickets: €1.10 ea, €4.40 total
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