Our final destination was Athens. I was originally not going to document this part of the trip as… what Athens in Greece stays in Greece! Hahaha, I’m so funny. Right let’s get on.
We were staying at Pagration Youth Hostel, just a short journey from the city. It was an odd place, as there were rooms in two different buildings, and a corridor had grown in the space between them. It was swelteringly hot there, not something I can blame on the hostel sadly, meaning our most important daily choice was falling asleep in a baking tray, or falling asleep to the sound of noisy air fans. What I have since learnt is that the summer is not Greece’s biggest tourist season, for this very reason.
But that did not stop us from seeing ‘the sights’. On the first day we visited the Panathenaic stadium, the sight of many of the ancient Olympic games. Throughout the week we also saw the Acropolis [where the Parthenon is], the outdoor theatre of Dionysus and the Temple of Hephaestus. And of course no holiday to a Greek city is complete without visiting a museum or two. The museum at the Stoa of Attalos contained many crumbling and headless statues for us to gaze at (and a water fountain), whilst the Acropolis museum was hugeeeeee and contained a vast array of objects from Athens’ long history.
To say that all three of us are ‘artists’ would be an exaggeration (I for one am not nearly creative enough) but we did want to check out a bit of art whilst we were there, so decided to spend a day at the National Gallery of Athens. We packed our sandwiches, put on two layers of sun cream and walked for an hour to get there. The building site we found was a little bit of a disappointment however. The gallery was being rebuilt, meaning the whole collection was being housed temporarily at an ex-army base across the city. That didn’t deter us! We love long walks in the sun! (ignore my sarcasm, the chance to feast my eyes on Nikolaos Gyzis’ Behold the Bridegroom Arriving made the whole trip worthwhile).
The actually city of Athens, however, is not as nice as its history. Traffic law or one thing the Greeks haven’t decided to adopt. Cars jumped red lights left right and centre, motorbikes mounted the pavement to skip traffic queues, and one women parked her motorbike in the bread section of Lidl. Not to mention the streets were crawling with stray cats (interestingly Lidl capitalised on this by selling very reasonably-priced cat food) and pickpockets were also something to be wary of.
This interrailing/interplaning/travelling/culture-fest really was a wonderful experience! I loved seeing the three amazing cities, and dipping my toe into the ocean of ‘independence’. Totally recommend guys, go for it!