The Athens I Know

After my intensive journey to get to Greece, my time there remained short. The hostel I stayed at cost only 11 Euros a night and everything was pretty cheap. Stopping at little stores remained a consistent habit to maintain food on hand. I would always pick up bread, and either cheese or salami to go with it to keep my costs to a minimum – I must say Greece had the best tasting products of these.

The Grecian history continues to be amplified by it’s ruins sitting on the highest hill overlooking all of Athens. When looking down from the top, the roofs of all the buildings sparkle. As with a handful of landmarks that I reached, nothing can be compared to actually seeing and walking through architecture that you have only seen in history books and on TV.

Most people know about the riots in Greece in the past few years, but when I visited downtown Athens in 2008, the later you stay out, the crazier the people you’ll see. When eating a gyro at a restaurant (by the way, they taste amazing!) some random guy stood yelling at passing cars in the middle of the street and even stopped a bus, which the bus driver came out and physically had to remove him. Even the way they park in Athens proves to be absolutely ridiculous. Cars parks on the corners inside intersections; in American this would give you an instant ticket and be towed, but in Greece, nobody cares and you could even be parked with the car bumpers pushed next to each other all over the place.

Greece held a mass amount of amazing history, crazy people, good food, however, the best part of any trip is allowing yourself to be adventurous and random.  One afternoon, I talked the people that I traveled around Greece with to go bus hopping with me. Whatever bus came our way, we took it and went wherever it took us. We got to see Greece in a way that no tourist would come looking for or see. Also, we would take back streets, and I found the most delicious lamb gyro served in all of Athens – which proves, going off the beaten path allows you experience the real culture.





The Ride into Athens

Getting to Athens, Greece is a bit rough. I took a ferry from Venice to Athens, and let me tell you, the ride is not glamorous at all. The ride’s total time maxed out at 40 hours and since I’m a cheap traveler, I decided to go with the free ride from my Eurail Pass.

Let me paint the picture for you: rain for the first 12 hours, sleeping on the deck, and intercom announcements overhead every hour in at least 6 different languages. In the middle of the first night, I awoke to a wave of water splashing over me when I slept on the floor of the deck. You can bet that I splurged for seating on the ferry ride on the way back home, which cost about 32 Euros.

Once you travel further south on the ride, the weather completely clears up and you’ll have some great views of the coast opposite Italy and of the golden sunsets over the Sea.

Once the ferry experience ended in Patras, the darkness had another hour to reign. I landed in this town at about 5am and followed other people from the ferry to try to locate a train station to take to Athens. At this train station, I met a group of guys, and we joined forces into Athens.

This small train into Athens could be described as a crazy carnival ride. The trip takes at least 2 hours, you can feel every move and shake, and every turn feels like you’re playing corners. When you decide on getting to Athens by ferry and train, you need to be prepared and committed; but the journey makes you appreciate being in Athens all the more. Next time I go, I will definitely be looking for a plane to take instead.