Located on the east coast of the Saronic gulf, the city is a well sought touristic centre due to the massive amount of ferry tours that run through the Greek archipelago, but also for those who want to experience local lifestyle and enjoy some freshness after a whole day around the capital city.
Strolling around the streets of Athens during a heatwave may not be the best idea, but even a heatwave doesn’t stop a history lover. In fact, it made my experience in Athens even more memorable- how did students back in time go to Plato’s Academy or the Aristotele`s Lyceum? Makes one appreciate the great invention of the A/C (who invented the A/C?).
Visiting the city for the very first time and for a short period of 4 days, we did not expect to see or visit all the monuments, nor we did have a precise idea of what to expect from a three thousand year old cradle of western civilization. To our surprise, the streets of Athens welcomed us with necessary shade, unbeaten paths, lovely people and an unforgettable experience.
We left Malta on Saturday morning and after a very short plane ride arrived to Athens. Getting from airport to the city centre is easy and fast, be it using a train/metro or by cab. Finding a place to stay is not a problem either: Athens suggests a great variety of options starting with hostels, hotels and a vast variety of Airbnb suggestions. We chose the latter and stayed in a beatiful apartment right down in the city centre, next to Varvakios Agora.
Being excited about our getaway, we did not spend a minute sitting around the house and relaxing – just minutes after unpacking, we went out to wander around the streets of Athens (and, being lucky-also searching for a place for birthday drink!). We checked the map for directions to Monastiraki square and headed that direction with no real plan in mind.
Luckily enough, Monastiraki square was not hard to find and after an indecent amount of photos taken, we ventured off through the crowded streets of the flea market.
After a short stroll around the Plaka neigbourhood, we ended up at the entrance of the Ancient Agora – my favourite site from the whole trip. Being a well preserved archeological site and a home to the most important part of Ancient Athens, visiting the Agora made a huge difference in understanding the life of the Hellenic people.
Once our appetite for history was satisfied, we realised that our appetite for a good dinner had grown immensely. We heard great reccomendations for food in Athens, however we decided to take our chances and caught a train to Piraeus – a harbour city, just about 12km from Athens.
After living in Malta, we got used to sea towns being little and charming and did not realise how big this city actually was. This led us to wandering around the city and boosting our walking distance for an afternoon stroll to up to 25km (with the heatwave we really appreciated the light breeze from the sea!).
Piraeus has both an industrial side and long beautiful promenades, together with quite a few incredible sea food restaurants. Make sure to get a map and not get lost if you are short on time; Otherwise be ready for a good walk and explore the area! (Insider tip: if you feel that you’re REALLY lost, don’t be shy and ask for directions – we found out that many Greeks have at least a basic understanding of English and they will try to help you work you way through as much as they can).
Being foodies, we had a few restaurants in mind for the dinner which we carefully selected after an extensive research, however, some places we found were closed (one of them permanently), so double check the addresses carefully! But all is good what ends good, and we were happy to come across Ta Vrachia Tis Pirekis- a typical Greek tavern. Friendly staff, generous portions (our waiter politely “recommended” us not to order too many items) and great local-like atmosphere.. A great birthday dinner!
With our stomaches happy and full more than needed we headed back to Athens for a good night’s rest..