Book worm book count: 21
All together now – top tip “get going early!”. But this time – I REALLY mean it!
Athens is awesome – I had been told otherwise so had low expectations as we headed out – once again very early (7.30am) We grabbed a cab straight off the ship and headed the 7kms into Athens (there were plenty waiting by the dock) Note – they will tell you it is 25 Euros to the Acropolis. Don’t accept it – ask to pay by the meter – it’s much more like 12 – 15 Euros tops. The cabbie will also try to convince you to book the cab for the whole day for 120 Euros. Don’t do it – it’s not a bargain. Athens – or at least the parts that you really want to see are all very close and easy to walk between. Taxis are easy to find and the return trip back is a similar price (12-15 Euros). If you have come in by cruise ship make note of the terminal – there are 3 of them and they are a long way apart. You need to know where your ship is and where you are headed when you return later in the day.
In July it is hot – 35 degrees by mid day so the earlier you start the better it is.
I suggest you head straight to the Acropolis for 8am when it all opens. The walk to the top is not bad, but wear good walking shoes – it is slippery on the marble stairs and pathways. Getting in early not only means you dodge the heat of the sun (there is no shade) but you also miss the huge crowds. It is an awe inspiring place, even the small person was impressed, but if you are hot and bothered with 5000 other people jostling for space – it will take away from the magic.
The entry ticket is 20 Euros for adults or 30 Euros for the Acropolis and another 6 sites. Get the 30 Euro ticket as the other sites are worth going to. Kids are free.
Having explored the Acropolis, (Parthenon, Erechtheion, Propylaea, Herodeon, Theatre of Dionysus and the Temple of Athena) you can make your way down a wide paved road (Dionysous Areopagitou) to Hadrian’s Arch and into the Temple of Zeus. Your ticket gets you in there as well. It is visible from the road but worth going into none the less. It feels very different up close. You get a much better perspective of the scale of it when you stand right next to it. It’s huge.
From there it is an easy stroll back through the Plaka neighbourhood, a lovely part of Athens. Think pretty narrow streets and shop fronts bustling with life. It is cool and shady – it needs to be! By now its close to 10am and heating up.
Wandering through the streets you wind your way through to Hadrian’s Library (ruins not an actual library with books in it, much to the small persons horror) the Stoa of Attalos and the Temple of Hephaistos. Don’t miss these.
Particularly the Temple of Hephaistos, a lovely fully preserved temple in gardens that offer shade and relief from the sun. They also provide great views back to the Acropolis. The streets surrounding this area are quaint, cool and the perfect place for lunch.
We called it quits for the day there – there is more to see, but Athens itself is tired, graffiti ridden and hard going in the heat.
Our taxi driver told us that 400-500 refugees arrive every day from Syria by boat. They are housed in the stadiums built for the Olympics games in 2000, before they move on across Europe. Greece’s economy is struggling and the impact of the additional mouths to feed, is really challenging. (All good conversations to have with small people who are privileged and live in a pretty nice bubble, in a pretty great country). The struggle shows in the faces of the people in Athens – they are doing it tough.
One of the amazing things that travel gives kids is perspective. I love the opportunities to talk and show and explore with Charlotte when we travel. I love seeing things through her eyes but I also appreciate the opportunity to discuss the world we live in and broaden her horizons.
Athens delivered history and humanity, great human feats and great human flaws. I loved it.
Highlights from small heights
How many times has Mum’s tip been go early? Its seriously repetitive. My tips on the other hand change every single day.
Anyway Athens is AWESOME. Thats all you really need to know but as this is a blog I need to expand a LOT. The Parthenon and Acropolis are huge and pretty cool though its a bit of a shame that there is scaffolding and slippy marble all over the place.
After that we headed to the Temple of Zeus. From the Acropolis it doesn’t look so great-just a pile of tall pieces of marble but its certainly worth looking at it when you’re close up. It also has an excellent bench to rest on which you’ll probably need at some point.
The Plaka place Mum told you about isn’t as interesting as I would have thought it would be-just some old shops in a street and we didn’t even buy anything. Its only use was that it was a good path to the temple of Hephaistos, which is very well preserved. You could almost have thought it was actually straight out of Ancient Greece-except it had netting to stop birds getting in. Say hello to my friend, the tortoise\turtle thingy that lives there.
Athens fun rating: 8 out of 10.
Improvement tip: Kick out the boring shops of the Plaka (so most of the shops) and for goodness sake get rid of the slippery marble that seems to be everywhere.
Charlotte’s two top tips:
Avoid the marble and avoid the Plaka unless you’re going to Temple Hephaistos.