I arrived in London late Sunday night and was waited on hand and foot by my amazing friends Anna and Jono who had dinner, wine and lots of cuddles waiting. I was feeling a tad overwhelmed (more on this later) that I was finally in my new city but before I press play on London life I smashed the pause button on life and jumped on a plane to Athens on Monday night to start a 7 week adventure around Europe. I managed to avoid the tube for my whole first day in London and caught a cab to Heathrow for £35 which was money well spent to a) avoid the tube again and b) make sure I got to the airport on time.
Because of the time difference between London and Athens I arrived at 3.10am! Turns out Leah and Jason had taken the same flight when they visited Greece and gave me the heads up the cab to our hostel would be €60+. The thriftiness in me kicked in and I quickly explored to see if there was a cheaper way to get into town. Turns out there is a bus running 24/7 into the city centre for €5! Do I fork out for a cab and get dropped door to door or get on a bus in the middle of the night with a non English speaking driver and see how I go? I went with the cheaper option (sorry mum). Turns out it was totally fine – i was dropped a 5 min taxi ride from the hostel and it took about the same amount of time as a cab as there aren’t many stops along the way at 4am!
My hostel was a shock – it was actuallay like a prison cell. A tiny single bed with only a sheet, a cupboard and a sink in the corner. Being my very first experience in a hostel I started to worry that this would be the common decore for the next 7 weeks but I’ve already been proven wrong! The room was clean, I had a place to snooze for 4 hours and a hot shower in the morning so I can’t complain too much – but for $60 nzd for a prison cell for 4 hours rest – who cares?! I’m in Athens!!! And this was the view from the balcony I got up at 8am the next day to shower and start my Athen adventure. I wanted to beat the crowds and cruise tours at the Acropolis and other famous monuments and the heat of the day!! It was only a 15 walk to the Acropolis entrance – the #1 reason I booked my hostel was the location.
When I got to the top of the hill I was fizzing at the bum with excitement to be so close to these amazing architectural achievements that I had studied at school and university. I now wish I had hired a tour guide because the bits and bobs of information I overhead was super interesting but I picked a lot of info up at the museum. Back to the Acropolis, I marvelled at how these building have stood for so many years and was angered to think they were beaten up so bad in times of war and sadden to think beautiful buildings and countrysides are still being blown to bits right now. It just makes me want to see as much as I can before Mother Nature and/or human kind wipe out these sites for good and the only way to experience them is in the pages of books (or worse…websites!)
After the Acropolis I headed down the other side of the hill to the new Acropolis museum which was AWESOME!! Fact: parts of the Parthenon were stolen by an Englishman back in ages ago and taken back to England. They were sold for a few £ to the British museum where they are still housed today. When Greece asked for them back Britain said ‘well it’s not like you have anywhere to display them!’ So Greece built their fancy pants new Acropolis museum! (PS the British museum still have the artefacts).
I was a total geek – taking my time to look at every artifact, trying to guess the scenes depicted in the ancient vases, plates and statues – Miss Spears, my high school classics teacher would’ve been proud! I don’t want to bore you all day with what you can see and learn at this museum – just promise me you’ll go there yourself!
After the museum (which now had a line out the door, down the drive and around the corner in the heat of the sun – get there early people!) I followed my nose to a number of other amazing famous monuments including the Panathenaic Stadium, the stadium which hosted the first modern Olympic Games (and the only Olympic stadium I’ve set foot in!), Parliament House, temple of Olympian Zeus and also saw the changing of the guard which was pretty special – those guys must be soooooo hot in that get up!
I retired back to the hostel at about 3.30pm – having walked about 24,000 steps in the day, sweated approximately 5L of water and a full heart and mind. Dominique arrived from Dubai at 4.30pm and that night we met our busabout tour group who we will be bouncing around the Greek Islands with from tomorrow.
Thank you Athens for being such a great start to our adventure – you were everything I dreamed and more