A 11-day adventure by Elisa
  • Day1

    Fighting our way to Greece

    September 3, 2020 in Greece ⋅ ☀️ 17 °C

    This year has been crazy in many respects and this trip couldn't have been otherwise.
    When we planned a trip to Santorini despite an ongoing pandemic and continuously changing local-government regulations, we were ready to face some challenges, but nothing prepared us for what happened.
    When - after ingeniously packing all the stuff we need for 2.5 weeks (10 days in Greece + one week in Italy) in a tiny trolley rigorously below the 8kg threshold, managing to destroy our face masks, leaving the apartment in a decent state and making sure our babies 🐹🐰🐇 have enough to eat until the baby-sitter arrives - we finally get to the airport and reach the gate, we believe our holiday is finally about to start. Well... we are wrong!🤦🏼‍♀️

    When I show my mobile boarding pass to the lovely Lufthansa attendant, she first tells me that I need a printed one (?), then asks for my QR code (??) and, when I show her QR code on my boarding pass, she snaps at me and tears my just-printed ticket into pieces (!!!!!!) in front of my very eyes with no further explanation than a grunt. I had the privilege of experiencing some of Lufthansa´s cordiality in the past, but this is new to me. 😶😶😶
    I am so shocked that I literally burst into tears and cannot seem to be able to stop for a good 20 minutes, while watching the gate being closed and the plane leaving without us.
    Luckily, the lovely lady has a male colleague sitting at a counter nearby and - maybe moved by my tears - finally offers us an explanation: due to Covid-19, the Greek government is requesting a registration on a special site 24h before departure.

    At this point, we have no other choice than to go back to the departure hall, find the Aegean/Lufthansa counter, find out that our ticket is neither changeable nor refundable (exactly like our hotel on Athens) and resign ourselves to chase tickets online. Obviously, with such a short notice prices are over the moon: a one-way Munich-to-Athens flight is in the range of 300-400 euros per person. Before gifting any airline (especially after the courtesy received) with that amount of money, I really want to make sure that there is no other option. I am already on my way to Munich city to catch a night train to Milan (with the idea of catching a flight to Santorini from there), when we get an even crazier idea: pretending to fly elsewhere and only do a stopover in Athens... And well, it works! Instead of the 350 euros requested for flying just to Athens, by pretending to then catch a "connecting fight" (with 19 hours stopover!) to Santorini it only costs 125 euros!
    And the very Italian pride of cheating the system almost wipes away the rage for what happened just an hour ago.

    So, one day later, here we are, finally ready to reach Athens and start our Greek adventure! And, irony of fate has it, we receive a message from Ryanair concerning our Saturday flight to Santorini: "remember to register on the Greek government page!". Yeah... Now we know! 😒
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    Ludovico Castelvetri

    When we leave the rabbits are so happy: food, food and more food...

    11/29/20Reply
     
  • Day1

    Welcome to Athens

    September 3, 2020 in Greece ⋅ 🌙 29 °C

    When we finally get off our plane in Athens two facts strike us: it reaaally hot and... people smile here! 7 years in Germany must have lowered my expectations in both regards quite a lot...🙄

    Our accommodation is an apartment in the heart of the capital: Syntagma square. And, despite the super central location and the short notice (we booked no longer than 3 days ago) we paid an astonishing daily rate of 20 euros per person...

    Finding the place is easier than we thought: a train (with an amazing AC system) brings us directly to Syntagma Square and our apartment is only a couple of minutes away. What is instead significantly less easy is communicating with the taxi driver in charge of giving us the apartment keys... 😬 But luckily the girl who took the Booking.com reservation saves us by calling me and talking to the taxi driver.

    After fixing the key issue, we can finally go discover our accommodation. And, of course, like every place we experienced together (the 6-euro hotel in Bangalore still unbeatable), also here there is something special: the lift stops after a few seconds with an all-but-reassuring squeaky sound and, when we finally manage to get out, we discover that the residents of the building placed their washing machine as well as their safe... In the staircase! I guess this way they prevent burglars from breaking the entrance door and waking them up... 🤔🤔🤔

    Despite the premises, our studio apartment is instead beyond expectations: clean, spacious and nicely IKEA-furnished.
    So, here we are, in our AC-equipped lovely apartment in the heart of what once was the capital of the Hellenic world, the cornerstone of the Western civilisation. And now we can finally say our holiday has officially begun! 🤩
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    Ludovico Castelvetri

    In case a burglar wants to steal money AND do a quick laundry...

    11/29/20Reply
     
  • Day1

    Dining at the feet of the Acropolis

    September 3, 2020 in Greece ⋅ 🌙 25 °C

    Since we are not normal people, the first thing we do (after turning on the AC) is switching on our work laptops to check on emails (me), have a job interview (me again) and prepare job applications (Ludo). 🙈

    By the time we are done, it's already 9pm and the only grocery store still open is a luxurious organic food shop, where we spend 20 euros on a box of cherry tomatoes, two yogurts, 3 pears and a bottle of soja milk. That will do for tomorrow's breakfast, but I guess tonight we will have to dine out... 😁

    On Trip Advisor we found the name of a café that us supposed to offer both decent prices and a nice view, but we are open to anything, really. After leaving the apartment, we start exploring the neighbourhood walking towards Plaka, finding us surrounded by picturesque stone alleys with bistros and cafés perched on the hilly ground and stairs... Not to forget stunning archaeological sites like the Roman agora. Everything is colourful, joyful and beautifully lit. The only problem are prices...

    We keep walking until we find the café suggested on Trip Advisor and we have no doubts: this is the place! It's called Klepsydra and is characterised by an outdoor dining area with beautiful lights and decorations and the café section consisting of tiny tables and chairs placed on the stairs leading to the Acrópolis. We obviously go for the café section and enjoy a lovely meal consisting of fish, gyros and "Greek spritz" (I hope my Italian passport won't been revoked)... 🍹😬

    And while we enjoy our meal with the amazing view of ancient Athens in front of us, we finally realise we are on holiday!
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    Ludovico Castelvetri

    The luckiest man on the planet 😁🤩❤️

    11/29/20Reply
     
  • Day1

    Athens by night

    September 3, 2020 in Greece ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

    Upon leaving the restaurant, we start walking uphill towards the world's renowned Acrópolis. When reach the gates of the archerological site, we turn around and are stunned by the night view of Athens: the lights, the classic-style buildings, the little churches and stone houses perched on the hills, the tiny alleys sided by vines, the beautiful cats elegantly posing on the fences and the soft music playing in the background.

    We start walking downhill towards the heart of the modern city and seat of the govenment - Syntagma square - and then slowly start heading back to our apartment. Our holiday couldn't have started in a better way ❤️

    And tomorrow we will get to visit the symbol of Athen, Greece and the Classic World: the Parthenon! 🏛️
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  • Day2

    Acropolis of Athens

    September 4, 2020 in Greece ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

    Our first and only full day in Athens starts quite late. Ludo is still working on his application and, to be honest, it's way too hot to dare go sightseeing before 5pm.
    While waiting for him to be ready, I venture outside aiming to find a supermarket (not the 5-star boutique of last night) where to buy something decent for tonight. My best friend Google Maps leads me to a so-called "Bazaar". I am expecting an oriental mini-market but I instead find myself in front of my well-known Aldi chain! They just rebranded it for the Greek market! We are haunted by German food... 👻🤦‍♀️

    After buying the ingredients for a nice home-made dinner, I head back to the apartment to pick up Ludo and finally go discover Athens! We follow Google Maps instructions through Plaka up to the hill where we dined yesterday, but - to our dismay - the is no gate! A high fence surrounds the top of the hill where the Acropolis lies... but there seems to be no way through it. A French couple seem to be just as confused: they probably also fell victim to Google Maps.

    We start walking alongside the fence hoping to reach a gate sooner or later, while enjoying a stunning view of the city of Athens. Unfortunately, the perimeter of the Acropolis is much longer than we expected and we soon realise it will take over an hour to check it all. Thanks god, a street musician has pity of us and shows us the way to the closest gate as well as dedicates us a Greek version of "Bella ciao"! Thank you, my friend! 🙏🏻

    So, a bit later than expected, here we are at the gate of the Acropolis archaeological site. Before climbing up to the upper section (i.e. the Parthenon), we get to explore the ruins of what used to lie at the feet of the Acropolis. And it would be already enough to fill a museum...
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  • Day2

    Theatre of Dyonisos

    September 4, 2020 in Greece ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

    After walking through endless columns and statues, we reach the main attraction of the lower section of the Acropolis archaeological site: the Theatre of Dyonisos. As the name hints, it's a classic Greek threatre still well conserved.

    The temperature is not too extreme, but Ludo seems to be quite exhausted and seeks comfort by sitting on a flat stone nearby. Of course, it turns out to be an ancient archaeological find and Ludo is immediately scolded by a local guide.
    We have been in Greece for 24 hours and we are already on the blacklist... 🤦‍♀️
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    Ludovico Castelvetri

    The amount of knowledge of this place was too much for my limited brain (I have the memory of a floppy disk 💾🧠). I had to rest while Elisa kept on running aroung...

    11/29/20Reply
     
  • Day2

    The Parthenon

    September 4, 2020 in Greece ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

    After exploring the lower part of the archaeological site, we can finally start climbing towards the real attraction of the Acropolis: the Parthenon!
    After a short walk uphill, we suddenly find ourselves in front of a majestic columned entrance gate. Its impressive size makes the underlying tourists look like little bugs, but what is truly breathtaking is the contrast between the ivory stones and the deep blue sky. I wonder what it would have felt like to walk through it at its age of splendor...

    After going through the gate, we finally see in front of us the very symbol of the Greek civilisation: the Parthenon! Despite all decorations being missing (the Brits liked them so much that they decided to bring them back to London), it´s one of the most stunning human-made monuments I have ever seen. Surprisingly well preserved, this 2,500-year-old temple dedicated to the goddess Athena, is a huge rectangular building consisting of dozens of perimetral columns sustaining an architrave. The roof is missing, but this just adds more mystery to the site, especially with the rays of the setting sun seeping in through the columns.

    No wonder this was one of the most sacred places of the Greek civilisation!
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  • Day2

    Areopagus Hill

    September 4, 2020 in Greece ⋅ 🌙 27 °C

    By the time we start descending from the Acrópolis, the sun has started setting. While walking down, we notice a very crowded hilly formation on the right handside of the Acropolis: out of curiosity, we head there and immediately realise why it´s such a popular place: from here, you can enjoy a stunning view of the sunset and of the whole city of Athens!
    Pure magic! ⭐
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  • Day2

    Last night in Athens (panoramic view)

    September 4, 2020 in Greece ⋅ 🌙 25 °C

    As soon as the sun descend below the horizon line, we visit a beautiful orthodox church and walk by the Acrópolis museum, before starting heading back to our apartment. This actually proves to be more complicated than expected (my GPS seems to be more in retirement phase than on a holiday break). Anyways, in the end we make it back "home" and even get to see some unexplored places of Athens thanks to the involuntary detour.
    Since we already had our dine-out experience yesterday, tonight we enjoy a home-made dinner using the cooking facilities of our apartment: salmon in tomato sauce! 🐠🍅😋

    Tomorrow morning we have a veeery early start (we need to wake up at 4.30am at the latest), but we want to enjoy Athens until the very end, especially since we have already lost one day because of Lufthansa.

    Gari, a Greek-born colleague of Ludo, recommended us to check out a bar with a rooftop offering a great view of the Acrópolis. And, even if it's already quite late, we decide to follow her tip. A decision we definitely don't regret!

    When we finally get close to the bar - called "A for Athens" - we are overwhelmed by the view from the square: the Parthenon and the whole Acrópolis are exquisitely illuminated with warm lights and stand out against the black sky of the night.

    Full of expectations, we enter the building carrying the "A for Athens" sign and, to be honest, we are taken by surprise: everything, lift included, feels like a red-light nightclub! 😲
    Luckily, as soon as we reach the top, the ambiance changes drastically and, after a short wait, we are finally admitted to the famous terrace. All I can say is that Gari was totally right: this place is definitely worth the cost of a drink! And it's the beat possible way to say goodbye to Athens.. 😍
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  • Day3

    Welcome to Santorini!

    September 5, 2020 in Greece ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    Our day starts (too) early. After a less-than-three-hour sleep, the alarm clock rings at 4.30 am telling us it's time to get ready.
    In 30 minutes we get ready, pack our stuff (thanks god we are travelling light!) and bring everything downstairs, where our taxi is waiting.

    Our taxi driver - Corinna - turns out to be a tourist guide normally working with American groups, now forced to be a driver due to the Covid-19 crisis. She explains that she caught the virus at the end of February and, after a month in the hospital, she needed another month before fully recovering. Since then she has been regularly tested for Covid and she is still completely immune!
    She also gives us an overview of how the unemployment benefit system works in Greece, explaining that in March she will be completely on her own with no financial support at all. She also adds that Greece cannot survive more than one year without tourism and that the country risks a collapse if a vaccine is not found in time.

    Thanks to the interesting chat with Corinna, we arrive at the airport in no time and quickly reach our gate. And when we finally take off, we say goodbye to Athens admiring a beautiful dawn... 🤩

    The flight is ridiculously short (30 minutes including take-off and landing), but Ludo still manages to fall asleep so deeply that I don't manage to wake him up to admire the stunning view of the volcano-island of Santorini before landing. 😴🗻
    As soon as we get off the plane we are struck by the pleasant temperature (Athen's heat is history) and deep deep blue colour of the cloudless sky. This weather is pretty close to absolute perfection...

    The airport must be extremely tiny, because we find ourselves outside without even realising it. And there is absolutely no sign of our car rental. We are already getting prepared to having been ripped off again (one day I will stop going for the cheapest option), when I call the contact number on the reservation receipt and a friendly voice answers: they are waiting for us!
    The car rental guy is indeed patiently sitting at a tiny table alongside the road, about 100 metres from us. He is the first "Santorinian" (I hope that's the word... 😅) we meet and, as like many others in the following days, he proves to be extremely helpful, patient (we have to try 5 different credit cards before we get one to work) and impressively fluent in any possible language (we end up doing the whole procedure in Italian). Not to mention the flexibility: he lets us pick any car we like regardless of what we paid for! 🚗😁

    So, here we are, aboard our Toyota Yaris ready to discover the legendary island of Santorini. I am always somewhat worried when I have to drive cars different than my own, but that quickly turns out to be slightest of our problems. After about 50 metres I in fact realise that I had never driven in Greece before... nor has Google Maps, judging by its performance.

    The result is that it takes us 40 minutes to do a 7-minute drive (including donkeys mockingly looking at us), but it's definitely worth it: when we finally reach our apartment and are allowed to do a free-of-charge early check-in at 9am, we feel totally rewarded: the building is simple, but the rooms are gorgeously decorated and have a tiny balcony with a stunning view on the caldera and the white villages perched on its slopes. Not to mention the rooftop, even equipped with an upen-air jacuzzi!

    If it were not for the all-but-ideal Internet connection, I would definitely apply to do home office from here 🤩
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