I arrived in Athens early this morning – so early (4am) that we were the only flight on the arrivals board inside the airport terminal building.
I’m only here for the weekend, so with no hold luggage I was through the airport within minutes and managed to catch the 04:30 ‘Syntagma Express’ bus to Syntagma Square in the centre of the city and arrived at my hotel about 50 minutes later.
This weekend I’m staying in a hotel located in the Plaka – the pedestrianised district beneath the Acropolis. Although I have been to Athens several times before, this is the first time I’ve stayed in this area. I normally stay a little way out of the centre, in the Metaxourgheio area which is a short distance North of Omonia.
Having been up most of the night, I went straight to bed when I got to the hotel. By the time I woke up again about 3 hours later, the sun was shining brightly, straight in to my room.
I went for a walk around the Plaka and up towards Syntagma before breakfast. Unlike many tourist resorts in Greece, Athens is open all year round and the tourist shops, tavernas and restaurants, museums, etc. are still open. The only real difference is that it is quieter (plenty of space to walk about even in the narrow pedestrianised streets in the Plaka), and things are cheaper (the Acropolis is €10 from November to March, but €20 from April to October). I have heard it said that the winter months are the best months to visit the Greek cities, and I can see why.
After breakfast I went to go and see the sights of Athens – starting with the Acropolis (third time in four years) and then somewhere I’ve not been to before – the Philopappos Monument on a hill near the Acropolis.
It had been sunny with a cold chill in the air when I started off before breakfast. It was about 1pm by the time I finished my visit to the Philipappos Monument; By this time the clear blue skies and sunshine had taken the temperature in to the high teens; it felt like an English spring day and it was warm enough that I could take my coat off. Warm enough that I forgot that we are only 2 and a bit weeks away from Christmas – that was, until I walked past a man dressed as Father Christmas, ringing a bell and shouting “Ho Ho Ho Merry Christmas” outside the Acropolis.
I walked slowly back to my hotel room, deciding I’d have short rest (while I decided what to do next). I went right up to the 4th floor where there is a rooftop terrace with views towards the Acropolis, Lykavittos Hill, and over the city of Athens – and I just sat in the sunshine while I read through my e-mails for the first time since yesterday evening. Back in my room, I put the TV on and fell asleep with the balcony door wide open to let some fresh air in – When I woke up the breeze had dropped and the sun shining in through the open door was really quite hot. I’m really not used to it being warm in December (but I’m not complaining).
I went back out for a late lunch (it was almost 3pm by this time) and found a nice looking bakery – Lulu’s Bakery & Deli – so I ordered a drink and a Bougatsa, a Greek custard filled pie which I eat a lot of. Might have breakfast here one morning.
I had planned to go and visit the Athens War Museum – but didn’t quite make it there before it closed – so instead I walked round the National Gardens (they are massive!) and up towards the Zappion Hall.
On my way back I stopped off at one of the many Periptera (kiosks) which can be found on just about every street corner in Greece, to grab a drink and a bag of crisps – I sat on the balcony eating, drinking and watching the sunset.
It’s almost 7pm here now, I’m thinking I’ll head off out to have dinner around about 8. Not sure where I’m going to eat yet, but there are plenty of options.
Bye for now.