Ever since I was a young girl and saw the musical “Mama Mia” Greece had been my number one must-see travel destination.
After graduating law school and taking the bar exam, I had about a month before starting my “real” job. Since taking a vacation longer than two weeks as an attorney is almost unheard of, I knew that Greece was the trip that I HAD to take before I started working. Unfortunately, my time off happened to be in August – the busiest, most crowded and most expensive time of the year to travel to Greece. Nonetheless, I was determined to take an awesome Greek Vacation at a reasonable price (since I had been a full-time student for three years).
We flew directly from Atlanta to Athens on Delta. I have heard mixed reviews about the city of Athens, but I loved Athens! It’s a vibrant and bustling city that has something for everyone! In an effort to save some cash, we chose a moderately priced hotel centrally located and close to a metro stop. (Unfortunately, this budget-friendly/centrally-located choice also meant that we would occasionally pass a prostitute or two near our hotel on our walk home in the evening…)
Our number one “must see” in Athens was the Acropolis. The site is typically VERY crowded, but we had super luck. When we got to the Acropolis, we were shocked to see that the complex wasn’t packed with people. At the ticket booth, we were told that the next day was a National Holiday and that entry tomorrow would be free. Rather than waiting for free entry the following day, we paid approximately $20 USD to visit the complex – and we were glad we did! We were able to easily explore the complex and take pictures without mobs of people in them. If you aren’t as lucky on your trip, I would recommend getting to the complex early in the morning when the site opens to beat the heat and the crowds.
The Parthenon is the largest temple in the Acropolis and was dedicated to the goddess of the city, Athena and was built somewhere between 447 and 438 B.C.!
We made it to The Temple of Zeus as the sun began to set for some amazing pictures and then hurried to a rooftop bar where we enjoyed a bottle of wine and watched the sunset over the Acropolis and the Temple of Zeus.
The following day we started our sightseeing with the Ancient Agora. The Agora was once the center of ancient life in Athens where public forums and the city’s courts were once held.
After a day of wandering around the city and indulging in some delicious Greek food, we decided to experience the nightlife that Athens has become famous for. We made our way to glitzy Gazi, the part of Athens that is known for its nightlife, and we were not disappointed! There were a plethora of hip bars and restaurants to choose from in this “Manhattan-ish” part of town. You can read about my most recent trip back to Athens and the outdoor activities I partook in here.
After several indulgent days in Athens, we hopped a ferry and headed to the Greek Isle of Santorini. Options on how to get from Athens to Santorini are discussed here. My time in Athens was too short, but I can’t wait to head back and experience more of the city’s history and culture.
Have you experienced Athens? What did you think? Stand alone destination or gateway to the islands?
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CC header image from Flickr: Parthenon by Viton Vitanis.