Mick and I love to see new places and this trip to Athens was a little different as Mick was going for work and I just tagged along for a little getaway. We flew Aegean Airways from Cyprus and within 1 hour 45 minutes we were in Athens. Mick went off to do his business and I caught the train towards Athens city centre.. before getting into the heart of the city I stopped off as I wanted to get a few bits, so my first stop was at The Mall of Athens, a really nice mall with loads of high street shops and loads of places to eat and have a nice coffee. After an hour or so meandering I decided that I needed to get down to the main area of Syntagma. This is where all the action is. I must say that the train system is pretty good minus any strikes that often take hold, something that Mick often has the inconvenience of having to deal with during his trips here, as you are most likely aware, Greece is going through a tumultuous time of late with walk-outs and industrial actions common. The ticket from the Airport was €8 and then to get to Syntagma it cost €1.20. Getting off the train with a sea off people made me realise how lively central Athens actually is. I must say, Athens is buzzing!
As it was closing in on lunch time I headed straight to a Vegetarian/Vegan cafe I had looked up online before travelling, it’s called Avocado and it was yummy! I had the vegetable curry with brown rice, I didn’t have anything to drink and the meal cost me €11 (around 8.50GBP). Stunning value.
Once lunch was done I walked towards Ermou Street which leads to the main area of Monastiraki. The eateries and cafes are heaving with patrons enjoying mezes, local flavours and of course coffee with street dancers and performers doing their thing to entertain the hordes and try and make a few quid in amongst the shoppers, Ermou street is after all a high street. I left the hustle and bustle and walked my way towards the Parthenon. The walk was interesting as I saw many small roads with cute little shops selling souvenirs with artistic graffiti (and some less so) along the way. The 15 minute walk was not difficult but it’s all incline so be sure to wear a comfortable pair of shoes. So, having reached the top I was told that the Parthenon is closing for the day!! Great?! I was a bit annoyed as it was only 2.30 in the afternoon….on a Friday!! Apparently they close at 3pm so due to it’s size they stop letting people in at 2, too early if you ask me. Nearby I found an area with a set of stairs, which I climbed, it was a lucky break because having been refused entry into the Parthenon this was an alternative way of enjoying a lovely view of the whole of Athens and it was great to take pictures, watch the world go by…..and it was free!! Making my way back I purposely went through the narrow lanes and everything about the area was absolutely stunning and I managed to take some great photo’s. Be sure to have a wander through Monastiraki, it’s a beautiful area full of cafes and beautiful restaurants and you can kick back, relax and watch the people go by surrounded by the ancient beauty of the Greek capital.
As Mick was free for the weekend we visited the Hellenic Motor Museum the following day and it was amazing with three levels of some of the rarest and luxury cars you could imagine. If you are taking the train the nearest station is Victoria. The cost per person is €8 (6GBP) we were the only people in the museum at the time so we pretty much had the freedom of the place. If in Athens and you love old classic cars this is a must.
We had stayed with our friend George and he was very kind to share his apartment with us, due to this I cannot comment on the any hotels in Athens but I know that there are an abundance around the city. Whenever Mick travels to Athens on business he stays at the Civitel Attik as it is close to a train station and also close to the Mall of Athens, it is always clean and the service is excellent.
As George had kindly offered to drive us I kindly asked him to take us to lake Vouliagmeni, I am sure he will not be taking that drive again:)) It is around 20-25 kms out of Athens by car. We got there and I absolutely loved it but I am sure that it is so much nicer in the Summer. The area is surrounded by huge caves with the lake in the middle. It was freezing but there were people swimming and apparently it is very theraputic for anyone with rheumatism and all sorts of skin conditions….although at 3 degrees you won’t find me in there!! There is an entry fee during the Summer which includes use of the sunbeds and also a fee for anyone brave enough to swim during the winter. Sun tan lotion is prohibited if you are entering the lake in an attempt to keep the water as natural and pure as possible. There is a restaurant, showers and changing rooms also.
George wanted to take us somewhere special on Saturday night and he opted for the 360 Degrees restaurant… All I can say was Wow, Wow and Wow!! We took a train to Monastiraki and the restaurant is situated right in the square. We took the elevator to the 3rd level, George had called earlier to make reservation there was an astonishing view atop the hill of an illuminated Acropolis. The food, service and cocktails were second to none. We had ordered a starter with bread and a main each along with fantastic cocktails, the bill was €86. I thought that this was great value check their website www.three-sixty.gr, if in Athens check this place out. One word sums up Athens busy , lively and a great city to explore.. The next morning George surprised us with a local cafe place called Hacienda for a quick breakfast before we flew back to Cyprus. I absolutely loved the cafe it was so colorful and they offered a great brekkie. A big thank you to George for being a great host and sorry if I drove you mad.