Updated: Jan 21
View of the Parthenon from Mount Lycabettus
Walking around the streets of Athens, just knowing that this is one of the most ancient and influential cities of all times, is something so insane to grasp.
Today, it's revamped into something so modern mixed with all these archaeological sites but doesn't cease to keep its culture.
Many who travel to Greece usually stop by here to get to visit one of the 7 wonders of the world and mostly because they need to go to the Piraeus port to take a ferry to the Greek islands.
If you come across people who've only seen Athens for a couple of days, they probably aren't the right ones you should be asking for tips or places to see other than the typical usual.
If you want to experience life as a true Athenian, you must stay in this city for at least a couple of weeks. You will be so shocked with all the surprising experiences you'll have.
I'm saying this because as I've mentioned before, when people think of Greece they just think of the beautiful beaches and islands with blue & white houses, but there's way more to that!
Athens isn't necessarily the traveler’s main pick when it comes to Greece because other than the ancient sites and the city center, they think that’s all there is to this city.
Sure there's a whole bunch of refugees who live all over the city, there's some areas which are pretty polluted caused by corruption or strikes, but if you think of it... every city has its ups and downs. We can't generalize unless we've fully experienced something, right?
So, with that said, I'll bring you on my journey and show you a different side...
Downtown Athens should definitely be one of the first places to see, as that's where most of the archeological sites are located, along with huge museums, libraries, and universities. Lots of young people hang around there. Literally every corner there's a coffee shop because we LOVE coffee, not just any coffee, but our best, Frappés & Freddos.
Here's what they look like in case you didn't know:
This is a Freddo espresso/ black with 1 brown sugar, that's how I usually take it
Now back to downtown, there's of course, lots and lots of shopping. From designer brands to local brands, you can find everything over here. People love going to the Kolonaki district, which is fancier bars and rests along with luxury brands. So if you're a brand whore, this is the place.
Apart from shopping there's many beautiful hotels in downtown Athens, in which the most renowned one would be Hotel Grande Bretagne. Many celebrities from all over usually stay here, I got to go inside and visit it a bit and let me tell you, it's super luxurious.
Probably costs a fortune but, hey, that's Europe for you!
Greeks love to eat. Especially their local products as they're so healthy and tasty.
I got to visit many supermarkets and see their huge variety of foods the offered.
Below are different types of Greek noodles made with the finest whole wheat flower, semolina, and other healthy stuff that a chef would probably know better than I do lol.
This here, is something homemade...
It doesn't have a name to it as it looks like I shoved a little bit of everything on this plate but it's delicious, let me explain. There's grilled eggplants, rabbit, onions, beets, rapini, dolmadakia (grape leaves stuffed with rice and herbs) and my personal favorite, all the way on top, leafy greens, which I can eat huge bowls of.
A great way for transportation all around is definitely the metro. It has been several years now where they've upgraded the majority of the stations' wagons. They all have a/c, comfortable seats and go really fast. There's always a place for you to sit except for rush hour times, where you'll probably have to give your seat away to the preggos and oldies out of courtesy :)
Oh and you will encounter gypsies sometimes asking for money or trying to sell stuff to you or what not. Don't be scared though, if you're just not comfortable, ignore or walk away!
Throughout my stay in Athens, I stayed at my sister's place which is about 45 min with public transportation to downtown. I thought of taking a bike once or twice to visit the center, and whoa did I sweat! June-July-August are the hottest months in Greece in general where every day is 40 degrees, so you have to make sure you always have water with you, a hat, or accessible shady areas to chill if you'll be outside because you will get burned or dizzy from the sun.
What's cool is there's always little convenience store kiosks on most of the blocks, so you'll never get stuck somewhere with no drinks or food.
Some church in some neighborhood
It's no surprise that you'll find many churches all around, and it's also no surprise that you may stop and take a picture of them because they're just so beautiful to look at.
You will definitely encounter really old buildings that may be next to some really new buildings that may be next to some graffiti.
Unfortunately there's lots of useless graffiti that I'd like to see in this city but then there's some really cool ones that make the street feel so artsy.
There's this really cool new culture center called Stavros Niarchos Foundation. The picture below was taken a couple of months before it fully opened to the public. I was back in Canada during that time so I didn't get to visit it but as you see by the picture, its infrastructure is so modern and cool, you can only imagine what cool things there are to see and do.
I know that they turned their huge fountain area into a skating rink in the winter time which sounds pretty cool to me!
I got to visit the Temple of Poseidon, which has way less of a waiting time and people in front of you as compared to the Acropolis. It's about 1 hour away from the center, and you get to coast along the beautiful Athenian riviera and can stop by many beautiful beaches to swim.
There are beaches close to the city center of course but the free ones are usually very occupied and not necessarily the craziest waters that Greece is known for as compared to the private ones that cost more or the ones that are outside of Athens.
But nonetheless they're obviously still swimmable and enjoyable when you need a quick dip after a long day of work!
Temple of Poseidon, Cape Sounio
This site only costed around 8 euros, and its located at the tip of the cape so you get to see beautiful waters all around, and a little bit further some hotels and resorts where you can stay and enjoy the beaches.
I've always found these types of pics cool, so I took one as well. Don't worry I was fully safe :P
I went to one a little bit before the temple, which was free. As I said earlier, you don't need to go to paying beaches to find great waters. You just need to like exploring a bit more and you'll surely find a place you like.
Check out the waters on this one, it was so beautiful. And oddly, on the day I was there, there was wind blowing against the waves which was really cool to look at.
So... after almost 3 months of staying in this fast paced modern/ancient city, I really got to see and enjoy so much of it. It really broadened my mind as to why people love this place so much. I'm fairly an easy traveler as I always find beauty everywhere I go but I'm really happy I love this place for what it is.
It's gone through so much that even with its bruises, it never ceases to inspire!