A day and a half exploring Athens, Greece

temple of Olympian Zeus

I just returned from Athens, and while I didn’t think it was the most interesting place I’ve ever been, I thought I would take a few moments to jot down some of my thoughts about the place (and post a few pics as well). So let’s start from the very beginning, shall we?

My flights from San Diego to Athens and back were booked on Northwest and KLM airlines. Economy class, of course, but hey – I’m still trying to build up my World Perks account balance in order to blow it all on a big business class reward to Asia sometime in the near future. Economy class would have to do for now, but I got roughly 14k miles/points from the trip so that’s nothing to really complain about.

My flight itinerary looked like this:

12/22/07 Northwest San Diego to Detroit – A320
12/22/07 Northwest Detroit to Amsterdam – A330-300
12/23/07 KLM Amsterdam to Athens – 737-800
12/25/07 Air France Athens to Paris – A320
12/25/07 Air France Paris to Detroit – A330-300
12/25/07 Northwest Detroit to San Diego – A320

san diego to athens greece
San Diego to Athens route map

The flights over were decent, but for some reason or another I was completely exhausted once we reached Amsterdam. Seriously, I had very little energy to wander around the airport taking pics so I just found a quiet space to sit and relax for a bit before boarding to Athens commenced. But I’m happy to report that I was feeling much better (and much more energetic) by the time we hit the ground in Greece.

KLM 737-800 wing
The Alps! This was the view about an hour into the 3 hour flight from Amsterdam to Athens, so I’m guessing this was somewhere over southern Germany or Austria.
athens greece from the air
Starting the descent into Athens…

I hopped on the train at the airport to head into central Athens, which ended up being quite a nice ride and very easy to figure out. Normally it takes me forever to figure out what train to board and then I always worry about getting off at the right stop. But this time it was pretty easy – and much better (cheaper) than a taxi would have been! Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to use this same train on my departure day since I had a very early flight out of ATH and the trains would not be running that early in the morning. But if I had a later flight I definitely would have used it.

The walk to my hotel was an interesting one, as I was approached by a seemingly nice guy who was eager to show me around and…well…I’m not sure what else. I immediately figured it was a scam of some sort, so I politely brushed him off as best I could and was on my way. It was a long walk for sure though – I was pretty much exhausted once I found the hotel.

I only had one full day in Athens, so I made the best of the time I had. Here are a few highlights:

The Acropolis
The Acropolis sits very high over the city of Athens – and the only way to get up there is to walk!
Odeum of Herodes
Along the walk to the top, there are many interesting sites to see. This is the Odeum of Herodes.
Odeum of Herodes
Another view – looking towards the front.
Propyla under construction
This is the Propyla, which is the entrance to the Acropolis. As you can see, there are renovations in progress.
Propyla under construction
Another view. Apparently, very little of these structures are still original – much of it is reproduction.
stray dogs athens greece
Stray dogs were everywhere all over the city! Even here on the Acropolis…
The Parthenon
The Parthenon – undergoing renovations since 2000.
me in front of the Parthenon
That’s me, standing in front of the south side of the Parthenon.
Did you know that the Parthenon was originally painted in bright colors? I didn’t – I guess that means I should have paid more attention during art history class!
acropolis rock structures
Another view from the Acropolis, looking northeast. Looks like another planet… And I was told that during the summer, the crows of people
make walking around up here very difficult. I visited at the right time of year!
temple of Hephaistos
To the north (and below) the Acropolis is the Ancient city of Agora. This structure is the temple of Hephaistos. I took this pic while
sitting on a park bench resting my feet from the Acropolis hike.
acropolis athens greece
This is a bad pic, but you can see how high the Acropolis sits over the city.
Athens street view
Street view showing the Acropolis way up there…
city life athens greece
Stairs and hills everywhere! If it were summertime, these walkways would be packed with tourists.
temple of Olympian Zeus
This is the temple of Olympian Zeus (in the National Garden) located right across the street from my hotel.
ancient ruins in modern greece
Discovered ruins are located all over the city. I’m not even sure what this is. But it looks cool…
Lycabettus Hill athens greece
Terrible pic, but that peak is Lycabettus Hill. I didn’t get the chance to go up there (this is as close as I got), but I was told the views are awesome.

All in all, I liked Athens. But other than the monuments and ancient ruins sprinkled around the city, I didn’t find it to be a truly amazing place. I wasn’t really expecting it to be amazing – which was good I guess, but still. My one day of walking around and exploring left a lot to be desired and I left thinking if I would have thought differently about this city if I would have had the chance to spend some more time there and look around in greater detail. I’m definitely going to try and make it back to Athens some day just to give it the chance it deserves!

On a side note, my flight out of Athens on Christmas morning was nearly derailed as they had a LOT of trouble finding my reservation and I had to get rerouted on Air France through Paris instead of KLM through Amsterdam. The flights were certainly light though – CDG to DTW was more than half empty.

Mental note: spend more time in Greece.

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