I felt I had seen enough of “Europe-y” places and I was craving sun and sand.  So after much researching I decided that Greece was the place to go next.  A flight for Athens was booked and on the plane I went.

After the organized and reserved feel of Berlin, Athens was hot, noisy and seemed terribly chaotic.  Athenians do like their car horns!  Despite that combined with police sirens sounding in the background, the narrow roads that somehow accommodate parking on both sides and the traffic flow, the crazy motorcyclists who manage to drive their motorbikes while holding a cup of coffee and talking on their mobile phones at the same time, and the difficult to understand Greek alphabet on the street signs, I managed to arrive to my Airbnb in the evening in one piece.

I had been able to find a beautiful penthouse apartment Airbnb for my whole stay in Athens.  The lovely owner D had offered me a good price and I was able to stay there while she went on vacation for a week.  It was a real treat to have a whole apartment to myself and even better was that this apartment had a huge balcony and a stunning view of the Acropolis!  It was incredible everyday to wake up to the Acropolis glistening in the bright sunshine and then in the evening to see it lit up under a starry sky.

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In reality you do not need to stay in Athens for longer than 2 or 3 days in order to see all of the city sights.  However, Athens is a good base to use to go on excursions either to a few of the islands or up into more northern areas of Greece.  Athens also has a long stretch of public beaches on the Aegean Sea in the port city of Pireaus which is always a nice way to relax after a day or two of sightseeing.

Since I was staying in Athens for a few days, I decided to take in the sights a little at a time.  What is nice about Athens is that many of the sights are in the city center and are easily visible.  It is not necessary to pay to go into the actual sight itself.  You can stand just outside the fence and take your photographs.

Here are a few of them:

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Hadrians’s Arch
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Temple of Zeus
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Panathenaic Stadium also known as Kallimarmaro (meaning Beautiful Marble).  Built in 144 AD.  Refurbished and used for the first modern Olympics in 1896 and then again in 2004.  The Olympic flame is handed over to the host nation from here each Olympic Games.
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The Roman Agora
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The Zappeion

Another interesting this to see is the Changing of the Guard at the Unknown Soldiers Tomb.  This happens near Syntagma Square next to the Parliament buildings every hour on the hour twenty-four hours a day seven days a week.  Except for changing positions with each other every 15 minutes, the two Evzone soldiers on duty stand perfectly still for 60 minutes.

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So when the Changing of the Guard takes place, they move very slowly to protect their blood circulation. Their uniforms and the movements they make do seem somewhat comical, but make no mistake, these are highly trained soldiers who are hand-picked to be part of this elite corps.  Click here if you would like to watch part of the ceremony.  On Sundays at 11:00 am the Ceremonial Grand Change takes place along with a band playing music.

If you like to hike a little, there are the Filopappou and Lycabettus Hills.  It can be a little hot in the summer, but there are areas with trees that provide some shade. There are also several areas with taps that you can refill your water bottles with.  But it is well worth the effort once you get to the top and see the views of the city and the Acropolis.

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View from Mount Lycabettus of Athens with the Aegean Sea in the distance.

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Chapel of St. George at the top of Mount Lycabettus

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View of the Acropolis and Mount Lycabettus from Filopappou Hill

So when in the city of Athens for your dose of Vitamin Sea, pack yourself a lunch, put on some comfortable shoes and walk up the hills.  You won’t regret it!

 

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