Kalimera and Kalispera
Athens is hot. Very hot. It is fair to say that suncream and a hat are absolute essentials for this city.
Upon arrival, we were driven through the centre of Monstraki Square, next to where our hotel was. From here we could see the ancient Acropolis with the famous Parthenon standing proud above Athens. Athens really has a large culture shock from the perspective of a British person because Athens has stray cats and dogs all over the city, stray cats are common in England but not so much stray dogs so this really took me by surprise. Another surprising thing about Athens, is how relaxed people are, almost to the point where it seems dangerous as our taxi driver didn’t hesitate to pull his phone out behind the wheel. Smoking is extremely common so you will have to get used to the smell of tobacco before coming to Athens.
Greek cuisine is outstanding above all other countries and even now I’d kill for another souvlaki, regardless of when you are reading this and when this was published, I am not exaggerating, souvlaki is one of my favourite things about Athens and it is never too soon to enjoy another one, what it is exactly, is a skewer of chicken or pork with peppers topped with lemon.
In terms of landmarks and historical monuments, Athens is absolutely littered in them, walk down one street and you could be looking at an ancient church, turn down the next corner and you may well find the pillar of an old temple. One of my favourite monuments was the Temple of Olympian Zeus. Particularly because of the fact it is so damaged but still some pillars seemingly defying nature stand tall.
An absolute must see is the ancient Acropolis which translates to ‘The City of life’. If you arrive early enough, you can see Greek soldiers mounting the flag beside the Parthenon. Not only do you get to stand along side some of Ancient Greece’s finest architecture, you also get some of the finest views of Athens. The Acropolis museum clears up all of your questions on the history of the site. As well as this, archaeologists are currently digging beneath the museum where recently, ruins have been uncovered of Ancient Greek buildings.
If we are talking about the best view of Athens, very few compete with that of Lycabettus hill (Athens highest point) breathtaking scenery of Athens beauty at a 360 degree panoramic view. This is an absolute must see. Although you must be willing to climb the hill first. There is the Church of Agios Georgios which is a beautiful monument on its own.
Without a doubt my favourite part of my trip to Athens, was going on a safari. This isn’t your typical safari, cruising round the outback of Athens seeing some of the finest views whilst driving at speed gives a thrill like no other as if you are in a real life video game. This was definitely my favourite part of Athens. (Apart from souvlaki of course).
In the evenings, and even some mornings, shopkeepers and restaurant owners will stand on the streets persuading you to take a seat or buy an overpriced souvenir. If you wish not to enter, in the morning in response to their demands, say ‘Kalimera’ which is Greek for ‘good morning’ and in the evening say ‘Kalispera’ which translates to ‘good evening’ this is simply a polite dismissal to stop the harassment. Don’t however pass up on the opportunity to eat at an authentic Greek restaurant and make sure you enjoy the nightlife.
One final recommendation, is going to a traditional Greek nightclub. The Greek dancing and celebrations will surely see you shouting ‘Opa!’ in praise. And to top off the night, if you go to a nightclub with a meal included, you finish off by throwing a plate onto the stage as a traditional way of ridding evil from the room. I’m sure you’ll have a smashing time.