A Day in Athens
Let me just start by professing how excited I was to finally be able to cross a trip to Greece off of my bucket list! For years, I've been dreaming about Greece and plotting all the ways I could get there. If you aren't already a subscriber to Scott's Cheap Flights, I suggest you get on that now. Thanks to Scott's handy newsletter that he sends out every time a good international flight deal pops up, I was able to get an amazing deal on my airfare. As soon as I saw roundtrip flights to Greece in the $400 range, I impulsively asked my boyfriend if he wanted to go for our anniversary in the following spring (this was in November 2016). To my delight, he said "let's do it"! My hands were definitely trembling as I clicked the final button to book our airfare and my mind was racing with "is this really happening?!"
Well, it definitely happened and the planning commenced. I started by researching sights to see throughout Greece and the best places to visit. Since our flight was landing in Athens, it was a no-brainer that we should of course spend some time here before anything else. I booked an apartment via Airbnb that was near the Acropolis (a must-see on list of places to visit), public transportation, and a ton of eateries & bars for an amazing rate of $39 per night.
We arrived in Athens pretty late on April 11th (by an American standard—I quickly learned that Greeks enjoy socializing at much later hours than we do) so we had a pretty laid back night of grabbing dinner and checking out the nearby bars. Since we only had one full day in Athens before jetting off to our next destination, I wanted to see as much as possible.
We started our day in Athens by heading straight for the star attraction—Acropolis. We were a little scared of getting lost on public transportation so we opted to take an Uber instead. Little did I know, Acropolis was a heck of a lot closer to the Airbnb than I presumed so we arrived in less than 5 minutes and for about 4€. To get to Acropolis, you have to hike up several flights of stairs—luxurious marble stairs at that—so definitely take the trek during the coolest parts of the day (morning or early evening). Lucky for us, the weather was perfect and in the high 60's so while I got a bit winded, I didn't have to worry about sweating too much (princess problems, I know.)
This was definitely a tourist hotspot so we spent a bit of time waiting in line to buy our tickets for entrance (20€ per person). Since this was during slow season, I can only imagine how hectic it really gets during summer! Once we finally got in we explored the grounds and took lots of pictures. There was something really serene and humbling about being in the presence of structures that hold so much history. Aside from being in awe of the ruins, the view from the top was equally breathtaking. You could see miles and miles of Greece and all it's glory, the blowing breeze reminding us that we were pretty much on top of the world in that moment.
After we got our historical fix, we decided it was time to hit the city and "get lost". We started down a hill that led away from Acropolis and into the cutest streets lined with houses of all different styles and colors. All that walking definitely worked up our appetite so we were excited to stumble upon the cutest little street side restaurant with a fabulous view of Acropolis and the Gate of Athena Archegetis. We wined & dined and set out to explore a bit more. We ended up at a hip rooftop bar called 360 Degrees with a literal 360 view of the center of Athens. Their drink menu was really unique so I was intrigued to try something new. I ordered a drink rightfully named Breakfast at 3 that was made of Sauza Tequila Reposado, Jasmine Tea, Cherry Tomatoes, Agave, Salt, Lemon, and Lemon Tonic—peculiar combination, but oh so yummy. We spent the rest of the day just wandering through the city, window shopping, and taking in the sights. As we walked back to our Airbnb, I couldn't help but continue to notice that almost every building was accented in marble in one way or another, whether it was the steps, the entryway, the windows, even some of the street curbs! After resting a bit, we headed back out to see what nightlife in Athens had to offer.
Marcos received some recommendations on local places to visit by friends that had lived in and visited Greece. Being the foodies that we are, we were doing our best to check out as many as we could. We had dinner at a popular restaurant called Kotili and did not leave disappointed. I kept it simple and ordered calamari & a Greek salad, while Marcos got a traditional Greek lamb kebab. During our dining experience, we learned that Greeks do not rush dinner the way that Americans sometimes tend to. In America, we eat, we drink, and we get the check and leave. In Greece, you eat, you drink, you socialize, and repeat before even thinking about getting up. We really tried our best to follow suit with these customs and took our time with our meals and our conversations. The restaurant ended our dinner with a complimentary shot of limoncello—which was a sour/sweet shot of lemon flavored liqueur that's quite popular in Greece. After dinner, we decided to head back to the rooftop bar we visited earlier to compare the views from day to night. Let me just say, the illumination of the city lights made the night view even more mesmerizing than it was in the daylight. We decided to order a bottle of wine, a cheesecake platter, and take in the sights some more, making this the perfect ending to a short & sweet stay in Athens.
Overall, I'd say that Athens is a really affordable place to visit. Our food & drink bills averaged between 20-40€ for both of us and Uber rides around the center were about 4-6€ each time. Of course, for the real Athens experience, you can also take their metro line to get around the city at an even more economical cost.