Ariel in Paris #6: Athens

Hey everyone! Like I said last week, today’s post is going to be an overview of what I did while I was in Athens last weekend. It was a whole bunch of things and a whole bunch of fun, so let’s just get into it, shall we?

We started off the trip on Thursday night, getting into Athens late at night and then proceeding to get lost for a couple of hours before finally making it to our Airbnb at around 2 or 3 in the morning. It was stressful and rainy, but we managed to make it all the way to our lodging in one piece, so I would say that, overall, it was a win.

Once we got there, though, we promptly fell asleep, and slept in till around 11 the next day. Even with that late start, we managed to do a lot on Friday. We went to the Acropolis and its museum (both for free—being a student is really awesome sometimes), for one thing, but also just spent a ton of time walking around downtown Athens. We found some good food, learned how to use the Athens metro (compared to the one here in Paris, it’s nothing), and taught ourselves a couple of survival Greek words.

Here are some pictures from day one:

As it turns out, though, navigating in Athens was incredibly easy, even only knowing 5-6 Greek words, because every single person at every single place we went to spoke/understood English, if not fluently, then at least well enough to hold a basic conversation with us.

The next day, on Saturday, was our longest day, but also possibly the most fun. First, we woke up early and headed to the port, where we got on a ferry and went to a nearby Grecian island, Aegina, where we spent the first half of the day just walking around and enjoying the beautiful views of the water.

Some pictures from Aegina:

After that, at around noon or so, we hopped back onto a ferry and headed back to Athens, where we managed to get into the park for the Temple of the Olympian Zeus (Olympieion) just before it closed. We spent some time hanging around there, then set off to search for some other ruins. Since we went in March, which isn’t exactly peak tourist season for Athens, most of the landmarks closed between 2 and 4 in the afternoon, which meant that most of the other places we tried to go were closed, so we couldn’t actually go close to the ruins. However, I did manage to get some sneaky pictures through the gates at some of the places.

Finally, it being past the time when most of the places we had wanted to go closed and still having several hours left in the day, we looked up some places that weren’t closed, and we found the Benaki Museum. Thinking it looked interesting, we found the nearest metro station and headed that way.

And when we got to the stop and went above ground again, we discovered we were very close to a manifestation that was happening. I don’t know what it was for, because like I said above, I only know about 5 words in Greek, and none of those words were being shouted. I also didn’t bother to look it up. My friend and I just decided to avoid the protest and make our way to the museum. By the time we got out of the museum a couple of hours later, the protest was over.

The weirdest thing about this experience was not the protest itself—I’ve been living in Paris for the past two months, protests are par for the course—but the fact that the metro station was still open. If it had been Paris, not only would that station have been closed, but probably five stations to either side of that one as well. Paris doesn’t mess around. But in Athens, the station was still open, and I was struck once again by how very different these two cities are.

After the museum, my friend and I went and got some food then went back home to prepare for another sort of early morning.

You see, my friend had booked a flight that was leaving in the middle of the day on Sunday, instead of early morning Monday like the one I had booked, so on that last day, she and I tried to do as much as we could before she had to leave. Then, of course, I did a couple more things after she left as well.

The first thing we did after we got going was head to the Ancient Agora, which was the ancient center of Athens, where important speeches and other events were held. It’s a huge field with a bunch of different relics and remnants of ancient buildings scattered throughout, as well as a museum. The first order of business when we got there was to go to the Temple of Hephaestus, one of the best-preserved ancient temples in Greece. Being there was like taking a step back in time.

Pictures:

After visiting that temple, we spent a fair amount of time exploring the rest of the Ancient Agora before finally stopping by the museum. After all that, my friend didn’t have much time left to do anything else, so we just stopped to get something to eat and then headed back to the Airbnb so she could pack up her stuff.

After we said our goodbyes and headed off on our separate ways, I made my way to the Athens City Museum, which was pretty cool, but I got through it pretty quick and headed over to the very last thing on my list of the things I had most wanted to see in Athens: the National Archeological Museum. That place was huge and awesome, and I probably could have spent hours there, but unfortunately I got there only a couple of hours before the museum was supposed to close, so I had to keep my explorations to a minimum.

I finished off the day by going to eat some Greek food one last time, then headed back to the Airbnb to pack up and go to sleep early, since I had a flight at 8:35 the next morning.

Overall, my experience in Athens was incredible, and I absolutely want to go again someday—maybe during April or May, so that all the historical sites wouldn’t close so early. It was so cool being in a place that was simultaneously so modern and so ancient.

Plus, as a Percy Jackson fan, being in the country where Greek mythology was created was unbelievable. I honestly am still having trouble believing that I was really there and I really went and personally saw all of these things.

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Anyway, that’s all I have for this post today. I’ll see you guys next week with a new one about… something. I haven’t decided yet.

-Ariel

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