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Greece Travel Diary 1 – Athens

What an adventure this has been so far.

Sox and I left for Athens, via Dubai on Monday evening. We boarded the flight, settled in and ate, watched movies, slept and before we knew it we were landing in Dubai at 05h30 (03h30 South African time.)

At 05h30 it was already 34 degrees and 100% humidity. I have never experienced heat like that before. The closest I have come to that is a Bikram Yoga class for 60 minutes. Imagine that being permanent.

The airport is so huge that we ended up taking a 20 minute bus drive from the plane to the airport.

We walked around a little until we eventually got a hotel transfer to the Holiday Inn Express.

We had an 11 hour stop over, so we decided to have a fresh shower, a mini sleep and if time allowed, explore a little.

After a hearty breakfast and a power nap, we headed to the Dubai Mall. It is MASSIVE and has over 2800 stores, plus a full Aquarium, Water Zoo, Ice Skating rink, 5 cinemas and more.

There was a sandstorm so everything was very hazy!

Christian Louboutin store

 

 

Bye Dubai

 

We arrived that evening and I met Sox’s nephews, Yiorgos and Yiannis who collected us from the airport and took us to Sox’s sister, Sofi. One big happy family reunion.

 

On Wednesday morning, we had a big breakfast and set out to explore Athens. It is so beautiful here and rich in culture. We took the train to Monastiraki (Morn-es-ter-aki) where we walked down the cobbled streets, breathing in the warm air, taking in the market stores, fruit and vegetable vendors and then began our walk up to the Acropolis.

On our way up I read this as: Make Love Mousaka Not War. Mousaka is a Greek dish, but Sox told me that it’s Moushkh (which is Greek for Music)… Could you tell I was hungry?

The Acropolis is situated on the high rocky hills that overlook impressive 360 degree views of Athens.

It is absolutely breath taking and I tried to imagine it without some of the scaffolding, where they are restoring the ancient landmarks. I kept wondering how on earth they built these all those years ago without the technology and machinery we have today. It was extremely hot when we went and you could hear the cicada’s screeching in the trees. Even though there were so many tourists, it still felt calming. The area demands a powerful respect from being so majestic and humbling. We walked all around the Parthenon (dedicated to the goddess Athena), the Propylaia (The Gateway), the Erectheion (north side of the temple dedicated to Athena and Poseidon) and the temple of Athena Nike.

My GoPro has been absolutely amazing on this trip. We have captured so much and at this rate I’m going to have hour long movies! Sox and I have been loving the GoPro Selfies!

Some tips:

Wear closed shoes/trainers. You will be doing a lot of walking and you’ll be walking over plenty of cobblestones and marble. The marble can be quite slippery and those who wore sandals/slops were exhausted trying to grip their slops with their toes as they walked.

Bring water with you and if you run out, you can fill the water bottles by the water fountains.

It’s really hot (assuming you’re traveling in Summer), so wear lots of sunscreen too.

Be patient if you want to get a certain photograph. Sox and I waited for several tourists to walk on until the area was clear for a shot we wanted. We saw a few others just take the photograph quickly and move on.

Visit the museum at the bottom.

After we took in all the Acropolis culture, we needed a drink break. We headed to the main street, Hermou (Ehr-moo) where we enjoyed Frappes and water and looked at all the stores (they’re having their Summer Sales, which is fantastic for us.)

 

We finally came to the very top, to the Syntagma Square where the tomb of the unknown soldier lies. Here, special trained soldiers, from the elite Evzones unit, watch over without budging, moving or even flinching. Why is it that I always get this rebellious urge to rush over and tickle or shout: “Boo!”

I had the same feeling when I saw the guards in England.

Their uniform is a thick military dress and pom-pom shoes based on the attire worn by the klephts (the mountain fighters of the War of Independence.) I felt so sorry for them in the heat but there they stood, in charge and unmoving.

We were lucky to arrive at 4pm as the changing of the guards took place. It is a very special thing to witness and their march is synchronised to perfection.

After that, we headed via taxi to the area, Kessariani (Keh-sah-reeyani), which is where Sox was born. We walked around, saw his apartment there and I found it amazing how quiet everything was. Even the birds were quiet. It turns out we had arrived during Siesta time, which is between 2-5pm. Shops close, people sleep or rest and it’s quiet.

It was an incredible day and we packed so much in… We arrived back to Sofi’s apartment via train, had a refreshing shower and a delicious meal. The food here is so good. The olive oil is pure, the tomatoes are so juicy and tasty I want to literally eat them like an apple.

On Thursday morning we ate delicious thick, creamy Greek yoghurt with nuts and cinnamon and enjoyed Frappes. Frappes and Freddo’s are the coffee standard here in Greece – coffee on ice with or without milk/sugar depending on how you take it.

Sofi, Sox and I headed via train to “The Mall”, you say it like: The Mole. We I shopped up a storm, while Sox became my handbag and clothes carrier. He loved it. Deep down he did.

I am in love with Athens so far and I’m so excited for the islands too!!

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1 Comment

  • Reply Dennis Theunissen

    Wow Bailey I am loving this read you are super talented when it comes to writing down your thoughts on this trip to Greece – absolutely stunning photo’s & selfies (even the smoochie one’s – wink wink ) – I absolutely love interesting reads of any kind (love reading period) – thanks for sending this on to me – Dennis xxx

    June 17, 2016 at 1:14 pm
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