Day 21 – 24: To Athens And Back

Today started my little trip from Rome to Athens and back. I did a little research on the net and there didn’t seem to be any more problems with riots or anything so I decided to still go.

I was toying with the idea of taking the ferry from Italy to Greece and then the train to Athens (which would have cost me nothing extra) but it would have worked out to be at least 2 full days travelling time to get there and then the same to get back. I was planning on spending 4 days there so that wasn’t going to work. In the end I just caved and payed for the flights. 2 hours each way and I didn’t have to worry about whether the train from Patras to Athens was actually running or not.

I flew with Easyjet. Man they know how to upsize. It cost me an extra 22 euro for luggage and then another 10 euro to pay by credit card. Pretty bloody rude. As a budget airline their prices weren’t that cheap to begin with.

IMGP0517 So I arrived in Athens at about 2:30pm to find that the public transport workers were on strike. So that meant no trains and no buses. The only option to get from the airport to the city was by taxi. I’m sure the taxi drivers though all their Christmases had come at once and a number of them now own their own island. It was a 60 euro trip into the city. Luckily I met 3 other people in the line heading to the same destination so we were able to split the fare.

Athens is a very different place to all of the other European cities I’ve been to. Its definitely not as well maintained and has a decidedly 2nd world look to it. They don’t like to clean and they don’t like to take the garbage away but other than that its pretty good.

Its very laid back and quiet and surprisingly safe. Even with the guys wanting to sell you hashish (or marahhhawwwaaana). The afternoon I arrived I just walked around and explored a bit. There are some great little streets that have a lot of stores and lots of food for me to stuff my face with.

The next day I headed up to the Acropolis. Absolutely amazing. Its still intact enough for you to get a good idea of what it originally looked like. They were doing a lot of restoration work up there too. I think the gist of it was that they are restoring it to how it was found in the 1800s. Some of the restoration work that had been completed since then was not suitable and in some cases was wrong.

IMGP0578 Its a pretty sad story for a lot of these buildings. The Christians’ turned the Parthenon into a church in the 6th century and most likely destroyed the statues of Poseidon and Athena which were on the ends of the building. Then in the 13th century or so the turks barricaded themselves inside while the venetians were invading. The venetians bombarded the building, hit the ammunitions reserve and blew the guts out of the Parthenon. Such a shame.

The statues and carvings that they have recovered are stored in the acropolis museum. Its just down the hill. They’ve set up a life size representation of the top of the Parthenon and placed the statues and carvings in the equivalent place at just above eye level. There isn’t a whole lot left so you have to use your imagination. The museum also includes other statues found from acropolis and is even built on top of some ruins that you can look down and see through the glass floors.

The Acropolis ticket gives you entry into a whole lot of other sites as well so I spent the day walking around to those. The best was definitely Ancient Agora. It has one of the most complete Ancient Greek buildings around and also a replica of a once destroyed building that was built in the 50s.

IMGP0604 The following day I decided to do a day trip. I thought I’d go out to one of the islands and see something different. Ageina was the closest and easiest to get too plus it had an ancient temple to have a look at so I thought I‘d go there. Wish I didn’t worry. There was absolutely nothing there. I arrived. I walked around, took the bus for 25 min to the temple. Looked at the temple for 5 min, took the bus 25 min back to the port. Took the ferry back to Athens. Never been so bored in my life. The temple was interesting but not worth the time or money.

I walked around Athens a little more before heading back to the hostel. The following day I headed out to the airport (by bus!) and started the long journey to Venice. I flew back to Rome. Hopped the train from the airport to the city then managed to grab the eurostar to venice with 10 min to spare. 3 1/2 hours later I was in Venice wandering the streets trying to find my hostel. Oh the joys of being back in Italy.

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