Dear Athens, Greece,
You welcomed us with open arms, two Americans entering Europe for the first time (excluding our London layover). Let me recap what you were like:
If you missed my first 24 hours of traveling, read it here!
I had looked at how to ride the train prior to landing in Athens, but y’all, Greek letters are confusing. We got onto what we thought was the right train, and had to confirm with Greek people on the train. It took about 40 minutes for us to arrive at the Monastiraki station. When we got out of the station, we were immediately hit by the chaos and nightlife that is Monastiraki square. Julia and I immediately linked hands because the square was poppin’ at night! It was super crowded and we didn’t want to risk losing each other. There was a live band playing on a stage and my nose was filled with the scent of cigarette smoke. With my Google Maps pulled up and my phone in hand, I successfully navigated us through the square and through the narrow streets to our hostel.
On the way, we passed several night clubs and bars, where we heard Soulja Boy and some Fetty Wap. I guess some things never change? We checked into our hostel, City Circus Athens, right at midnight and got our room. We booked a mixed-gender 4-person room, and when we got there, the other two people were already sleeping. The hostel was impressively clean and modern. Julia and I went to sleep in the same clothes we had been traveling in for the past 30 hours since we still hadn’t received our lost luggages.
Monastiraki square during the day, about half as many people compared to at night!
The view from our room’s balcony!
We woke up at around 9am to recover from jet lag and then got breakfast downstairs of the hostel, called Zampano, and it only cost 6 euros for a buffet-style breakfast. Y’all, this breakfast made my morning. Not only was the food amazing, but there’s also something about eating breakfast with the doors open. It was lovely!
The delicious buffet breakfast! A.k.a real Greek yogurt and very non-greasy food.
After breakfast, we decided to make our way up to the Parthenon. We saw some cute streets on the way and had to take pictures. The line to get a ticket wasn’t actually too bad, and we only to pay 15 euros since we are students from the States. The walk up to the Parthenon was a slippery one, especially since there was white dust everywhere and the steps are mostly marble. I was trekking my way through the Acropolis in my two-inch high heels with blisters on my heels – please sympathize. It was so beautiful though!
On the walk up the Parthenon ticket office!
On the walk up to the Parthenon!
The Parthenon x 2
Erechtheion x 2
Erechtheion x 3
Tower of the Winds
I don’t remember which site this one is 😁
Hadrian’s Library x 2
Temple of Hephaestus
Temple of Hephaestus x 2
Stoa of Attalos
Stoa of Attalos x 2
Stoa of Attalos x 3
Hans and Gretel candy shop, so adorable!
The ticket we paid for had access to many other attractions in the Acropolis area, so we just hopped from one site to another. The crammed streets were surprisingly easy to navigate.
At around 3pm, we headed back to the hotel and just blogged and uploaded photos, and good thing we were back inside because it started raining. Um, excuse me, us Seattle-lites did not sign up for rain!! We hadn’t eaten since breakfast and decided to finally go on the hunt for dinner around 7pm. We stumbled upon a gyros place, Savva’s, and it looked fancy, but the prices turned out to be pretty reasonable. Julia and I both got veal gyros and it was so delicious.
Right when we were leaving, a little girl and her mom came up to our table and threw a sign on the table, and while I was baffled for a second, Julia reacted quickly and grabbed her phone out from under the sign. Turns out, the little girl and mom were trying to distract us and steal her phone! The little girl was going to grab the sign back and also grab her phone from underneath the sign at the same time. The waitress quickly hurried over and shooed the mother and daughter away. Thank goodness Julia reacted quickly because I could not have dealt with a lost luggage and a stolen phone.
We ended up heading back to the hostel right after dinner because it was getting dark, and then we sat in the lobby for a bit getting ready to watch a movie, when the hostel host WALKS IN WITH OUR SUITCASES. Julia and I fell off the couch scrambling to our suitcases and clung onto them for a bit, we were so happy.
The next day, we got breakfast downstairs again (let’s be real, a week later, I’m still dreaming about that breakfast). Then we made our way to Athens’ oldest neighborhood, Plaka, because I had heard that this neighborhood has the cutest streets. I wasn’t wrong!
We first stumbled upon a beautiful church, and then turned into Plaka. Julia and I took an extremely long time taking cute photos as we strolled down the narrow streets. There was a long street that was a flea market and it was so fun seeing all the different shops.
After exploring Plaka, we started walking in the direction of the National Garden, because honestly, we had nothing much else on our agenda. On the way, we stumbled upon the Congress building, which I thought was super majestic with all the pillars. We spent a long time in the National Garden because it was pretty big, and super peaceful. We made our way back in search of a different, cute neighborhood, Anafiotika, but couldn’t find it, unfortunately.
Julia and I grabbed some food nearby the Acropolis Museum; I bought an iced Greek coffee out of curiosity (apparently adding ice is NOT a thing for Greek coffee specifically). It was extremely gritty and quite bitter – not sure if that’s what Greek coffee is or because there was ice in it. Julia grabbed a smoothie and then I also grabbed a spinach and feta pie from Lulu’s bakery.
It was around 3pm at this point and so we slowly made our way back in the direction of our hostel. Julia needed to pick up a few clothing items for our next leg of the trip so we spent a few hours shopping before actually getting back to the hostel. Then we made a pitstop at a gelato place, where I got a mango gelato and ugh – so good.
We finally got back to our hostel at around 7pm, and we kind of just hung out and uploaded photos and did some blogging. At 8pm, the hostel offered free wine for all their residents, so of course I had to grab some! I had a few sips before Julia wanted to mail off a letter to a friend back in the states, which meant going out to look for a mailbox.
It was late at night, but we made a few pitstops once again. We stopped by a toy store because Julia wanted colored pencils to prepare for our 8-hour ferry ride to Santorini the next day. We got some and promptly made our way to the post office near Plaka. Once we got there, Julia realized her phone was not on her – that she might have possibly left it in the toy store. The toy store had closed right when we left the store. We were leaving at 6am the next morning, way earlier than when the toy store would open again. We both hyperventilated for a few minutes, but we kept calm. There was a huge possibility that Julia had left her phone back in our room.
On the way back home around 10pm, we made a quick stop at Lulu’s bakery again to pick up tomorrow morning’s breakfast. When I was taking out my wallet to purchase the pastry, I audibly gasped in shock. The corner of my Longchamp back was slashed open. I quickly scrambled through my bag, and sighed in relief when I saw that everything was still there (SUCK IT, THIEF). I couldn’t believe that that had actually happened to me, and I hadn’t noticed until then! I had no idea when my bag actually got slashed; it must’ve been when I was in the really crowded areas near the shopping area or flea markets. Alas, I’ve decided that Longchamp totes are a bad idea for traveling in Europe, especially because the material is so thin and easy to slash through.
We made our way home, and right when we turned on our room’s lights, we nearly cried in relief when we saw Julia’s phone lying on my bunk ladder. I swear, we are both incredibly blessed. TOO many close calls within the first two days, y’all.
I went to bed at midnight and packed everything before heading to bed that night, and woke up at 5am with Julia to head out to the ferry.
End of Athens trip
The walk to the train station was a little sketchy, especially at 6am, but we made it to the Piraeus port just on time. We picked up our physical ferry tickets, which we had booked a few days in advance, and then boarded the ferry (Blue Star Ferries).
That concludes my trip to Athens! It sure was an emotional rollercoaster and I learned so much about what everyone warned me about.
Look out for my next recap coming soon!