3 Things You Must See in Athens

 

So it took me a while to narrow this down – I absolutely love Athens and think everything is essential! However, these are my three absolute MUST see things in Athens, Greece ❤

  1. New Acropolis Museum

This is a wonderful place – it is an air-conditioned, beautifully planned, and exceptional example of Greek history on show. Yes there are other museums which cover more, but the sheer extent of the collection in the NAM and the knowledge you can gain from a visit there is worth a visit.

The statue gallery and the view from the top floor are worth the visit all on their own.

It is 5 Euro for general admission (3 Euros reduced and free for a range of people including students from EU Countries. Details http://www.theacropolismuseum.gr/en/content/reduced-free-admission-acropolis-museum)

  1. The Athenian Agora

A sprawling gorgeousness in the centre of ancient Athens, this was the spot for all of the important things – politics, markets, worship. It sits under the acropolis, you can look up and see the fortifications built after the Persian Wars. The Agora houses some lovely inscriptions and two gorgeous buildings. The Stoa of Attalos was built in the Second Century BC, and reconstructed in the early 1950’s by the American School in Athens as faithfully as archaeology would allow. It is a beautiful building and fronts the Agora Museum. Also in the Agora is the Temple to Hephaestus, its amazing condition is thanks to its varied and continued use from its construction in 415 BC until 1934 when it stopped being a museum and became an archaeological site.

Open Daily 08.00-20.00 Last Admission: 19.45 (However I have heard that it closes at 3pm so CHECK LOCALLY before planning your visit! Admission is 8 Euros, Reduced: 4 Euros (details at http://odysseus.culture.gr/h/3/eh355.jsp?obj_id=2485 )

  1. Psyrri

Psyrri is my favourite neighbourhood in Athens, you can find almost anything here. Amazing local restaurants? Yes. Cool stores? Yes. Cheap but good accommodation? Yes Actual local life? Yes. Plus – markets, street art, and an amazing atmosphere. You can spend hours wandering around this little area of Athens, if you stay here you can see it and have easy access to the rest of Athens.

Notice how I haven’t mentioned the biggest, most famous attraction? You know, that big temple thing on the big hill? The acropolis is incredible, I have lost count of how many times I have been up there. The acropolis and the Parthenon are on MY OWN PERSONAL absolute must do list, but I am not everyone. If you are not in Athens for a long time, don’t like the heat, have a problem with crowds (hello anxiety friends, you are not alone) or don’t have the physical ability to climb a big hill** – then you don’t need to go up to the acropolis. Obviously you get a more vivid experience of the place if you climb the steps, face up to the sheer size of the Parthenon, and see the incredible sprawl of Athens. But I believe that if you choose not to go, and go to the New Acropolis Museum instead you won’t have done the Parthenon – or yourself – a disservice.

The museum houses all the wonderful things found on the acropolis and they are displayed beautifully, with accompanying information as well as a kid’s challenge. There is a restaurant, which is the first place I had baked feta and for that alone I am grateful, from which you can look up at the Parthenon and wonder at the sight. The floor which showcases the Parthenon frieze (controversy in a different post perhaps) is laid out so you can follow the procession as you would walking around the Parthenon itself.  For an ancient site other than the acropolis I suggest the Athenian Agora for a few reasons: it is shady – not everywhere but considerably more so than the acropolis, it is more accessible (more does not equal completely unfortunately), and it has some gorgeous ancient ruins.

This is my absolute must do in Athens, it may be different from yours – what would you say is an absolute necessity in this amazing city?

** I mean this in a sprained ankle/severe asthma kind of physically unable, there is a lift for access to wheelchair users installed a few years ago. For a much fuller treatment than I can give on disabled access to the acropolis please see http://www.sagetraveling.com/Disabled-Access-at-the-Acropolis

3 (1)

Wednesdays are Hard  – 3 tiny ways to make it easier 

Sitting at the desk of my day job it is all I can do not to be staring out the window at the clouds. They aren’t even nice clouds. The sky is just blotted out with monochrome grey. I work 9-5 three days a week and Wednesdays are always the hardest for me. 

So I thought I would put together a quick post, some photos and some strategies to push through this midweek “meh”. 

1. Listen, and travel vicariously. 

I am lucky enough to have an office job where I am permitted to wear my headphones as I work. More often than not I am listening to a travelogue or podcast. It’s not travel, but it elicits the ghost of that anticipation, that excitement, and all those little frustrations we secretly love  💙

This one is my favourite – look out for a review soon 💙


2. Plan plan plan 

This can be in your head or sneakily on your lunch break. You don’t have to be hopping countries or continents to travel. I recently discovered a gorgeous bit of sand about an hours ride from me, you can all guess what I will be doing next sunny day 

Sarcastic Australian will always appear somewhere


3. Have a chat 

Start a conversation with someone, a friend you travelled with or a friend you *made* while travelling. There’s something magic about travel, people with lives so different from our own are often not encountered – but travel levels you. I’ve shared dorm rooms with a chemical engineer from Ethiopia, a taxi with a multi millionaire marketing guru from Seattle, and a sunbed umbrella with a professional stoner (her description not mine). If you don’t keep in contact with your travel friends, get on a forum, join a FB group, there are so many travel nuts willing to talk night and day about that thing we all chase 

So, these things might not cure your wanderlust; but they might just make your Wednesday Wanderlust more bearable. Happy travels! 

4 Reasons to Take Off Solo – At Least Once

So, the thought of travelling on your own somewhere could easily fill you with dread. I’m here to tell you why that’s kinda the reason you should go….

1. Solo Exclusive Experiences

Travel is not just ticking off all the things to do in a place. It’s the experience of being there. And honestly there are some experiences that you just don’t get when you’re in a group. It is very easy to do all the things AS a group; you go to the bar together, dinner together, dancing together and suddenly you realise it’s been two weeks and you haven’t spoken to anyone other than your group and waiters. Travelling by yourself you sit in bars alone – for about ten minutes. I made more flash friends in the three months when I lived in a hostel in Greece than I have in my life total. I have partied on the beach with South Africans, gone dancing with groups of local girls, learnt the rudest words in Spanish, Swedish, Greek, Russian – all because I was on my own and started talking to people around me.


2.Friendships

Because I was on my own on Santorini I had to talk to people. I made friends with the barmaid. Because I made friends with the bar maid, I travelled to Naples with her. Because we went to Naples together and I met her (now) boyfriend. Because we all got along so well we travelled together through Sweden, Turkey, and Greece for over 6 weeks. I consider these two people some of my closest friends, while revisiting Greece together last year we met a solo traveller at our hostel and she became one of our best friends –there hasn’t been a day since where our group chat hasn’t been active. Honestly if an amazing friendship is the only thing (it won’t be) that you get out of travelling solo – isn’t that worth it?


3. Other people’s problems, aren’t your problems

 There are very few times in life where acting in a selfish way isn’t selfish. When you travel in a group, everyone gets a vote on what you do. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you find yourself going into the twelfth designer store and for the twelfth time – you don’t care. You put up with it – and so you should, it’s not just your trip. However, when you’re on your own, your priorities are the only priorities. If you want to go to the tenth museum in ten days – go. If you want to eat four meals a day and sit in parks drinking coffee – you can. If you find a once in a lifetime opportunity – like 20 Euro flight somewhere random – you can take it and the only person you need to convince is yourself. You’re also restricted in your choice when you have to factor in other people’s proclivities. I have a friend who won’t stay in a hostel with less than a 95% rating online, in a no more than 4-person dorm, and only within a 20-minute walk from her favourite attraction – this meant her cheapest acceptable option for Paris was over 60 Euros a night (we did not end up going to Paris together, thankfully for my bank account). Times when your decisions are yours alone are incredibly rare in life, grab them where you can.


4. Self-Reliance

So many people don’t want to start travelling solo because ‘what if… I get lost’ or ‘what if there’s a problem and they don’t speak English’. These were my concerns when I started travelling. These things happen, you do get lost you do hit language barriers, but learning to deal with these things on my own is the single most empowering thing I’ve experienced. Yes. The earthshattering realisation that I could write what I want to say in Google Translate and show my grumpy, elderly, Greek receptionist what I meant was a massive victory for me in 2012. Booking hotel rooms on the go thanks to a particularly slow off season, massive victory. Putting feet on the ground for the first time in a new country and taking the metro instead of a taxi, massive victory. These relatively tiny achievements added up over time and now equates to an unwavering self-reliance and confidence. I can manage, I may not excel in every situation, but I can manage.
That fear you feel when you think about travelling by yourself, that is the reason to give it a go. You don’t have to go somewhere extreme for your first trip; pop to a country that speaks your language, take a weekend in another province, or jump in feet first and book a trip to your dream destination. The point is – do it, go, be on your own and find your own feet. Travelling with groups is in NO way inferior to solo travel and I will talk about why you should travel with a group (at least once) next week- Happy Travels!