Athens, one of the oldest cities in the world and the birth place of “democracy”, was next on the menu for our gaycation. After weaving through mountainous terrain for 5½ hours on the train from Thessaloniki, we reached our destination, near the Kerimeikos. Immediately we felt a different vibe in the capital city, compared to the north. While there was a decent amount of graffiti, it was nowhere near as bad as Thessaloniki, which seemed plastered with spray paint. Though the streets certainly aren’t the perfect postcard images that most people conjure up.
We also immediately noticed the young, cute policemen patrolling the streets. Despite our attempts to get frisked and a pat down from the handsome officers, they didn’t oblige. What was also noticeable was that Greek men either smelt as if they’ve bathed in the scent of the Grecian gods or as if they have never seen soap and water, and in the Athenian summer heat the latter was not pleasing to the olfactory senses.
Besides the continual struggle to find postcards, stamps and post offices, the other themes of our travels has been finding a (free) toilet in Europe – a basic need that should be afforded to all without a cost - and finding food. It seems that we are always chasing something better as if the oasis in the distance will be more fruitful. There’s only so many gyros and slices of pizza that you can eat.
The first full day of our Athenian adventure commenced with the ancient monuments of the city. We set out for the Areopagus Hill, exploring the ancient Greek Agora and the surrounds. The Temple of Hephaestus captured our attention first before heading to the Roman Agora and Hadrian’s library. While at the Roman Agora under the scorching Athenian sun, we did the Aussie traditional custom of slip, slop, slap and reapplied our sunscreen, only to be approached by a screaming Greek banshee claiming that the sunscreen was somehow going to ruin the marble. We were applying it to our bodies, not the marble columns. If there’s going to be any damage to the marble it’s going to be from the natural elements and the graffiti artists (and pigeons).
Our second day continued the ancient theme. This time, the Acropolis was the destination. The amazing structures of the Propylaea, Parthenon, Erectheion and Temple of Athena Nike provided a great backdrop for photos as we overlooked the entire metropolis of Athens. From the top of the Acropolis, we headed to the south slope to the remains of the Odeon of Herod the Atticus and the Theatre of Dionysus. The ancient treasures didn't end there. We still had the Temple of Olympian Zeus, Hadrian’s Arch, Aristotle’s Lykeion and the Panathenaic Stadium to explore.
The following day included some more ancient ruins – it’s pretty hard to avoid in one of the oldest cities in the world, including the ancient cemetery, Kerimeikos. Time was also spent wandering the streets, people watching and getting caught up in the hustle and bustle, mainly due to the visit by French President Macron. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a glimpse of Macron.
While throughout Eastern Europe we became a connoisseur of beer, in Athens this was been exchanged for ouzo. As they say, when in Rome do as the Roman’s do, except we’re in Athens so it’s do as the Athenians do.
Next stop: Mykonos.
See link below for video footage: