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Exploring Athens, the capital of Greece, in three days

Not even 72 hours after arriving in Athens, and I already had so much to share. I don’t even know from where to start, but let’s go from the beginning and hopefully I won’t forget any detail!

Note: This is the translation of an old article. The style used and opinions might differ from more recent articles.

First and foremost, I’d like to thank publicly on my blog to Ana, Carina and André for the amazing support they did to me. Yes, it’s true, I can also be nice to other people. I am not always that mean…

On my way to Athens

Now about the trip…, there are people with luck, and then there’s me. And when I say this I am placing myself above lucky people, because what usually happens to me, it’s impossible to happen to anyone else. So let’s get started…

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My trip was planned with a layover in Zurich, which was amazing for me. Not only I got to see amazing landscapes from above, I also had the chance to meet with a great friend of mine, whom I didn’t have the chance to say goodbye to when he moved to Zurich. It was only two hours, but totally worth it. This trip wasn’t planned by me, but by AICEP, therefore I consider myself lucky to have the chance to meet with a friend during a layover!

The first hours to explore the city

Arriving in Athens, a long trip by bus to the city center where I waited for my hosts. Despite the long trip, I arrived full of energy and very talkative… I forgot that the other guys were already working…

Arches at the Olympic Stadium
Arches at the Olympic Stadium

The next day they showed me around the city (I don’t remember exactly where, but I already saw a lot), and we ended up the day in a very special way. A greek friend of the Portuguese people that were already living in Athens took us to a bar with traditional greek music, where we ate and drunk. It was quite interesting, but also quite odd for me… Seeing a couple giving rosé wine to a kid that couldn’t be older than 2 years, and they stayed there with the kid until 2 am… It was a bit scary to see that… Oh, and taxis in Athens are really cheap! (When they don’t try to rip you off with obscure fees).

The second day to explore

Saturday…, another great day…, among several things that happened, we went to the 2004 Olympic City, a really cool area but that gave us a feeling of being abandoned after the Olympic Games… It is really a pity, so much investment for a few “days”…, and the interesting part of the day was someone trying to rob me on the way to the Olympic city inside the metro…

Metros in Athens have two main characteristics, the last train is quite early, and people don’t know the meaning of shower… Now imagine that during rush hour… When we went to the Olympic City, the train was quite full, so we ended up being split in two ends of the same corridor. We tried to fix that problem right away, while the train was still stopped, crossing the corridor…

I felt something odd while I was trying to cross the corridor, someone pushing me and literally scruff me. Since the train was not moving, I felt that really odd and I pulled my shoulder bag to my front, where I noticed that it was open without my wallet!!! Right then I started saying out loud, to my friends, that I just got robbed. I noticed right away who robbed me, but I didn’t even had a chance to react as one of the guys that were with me found it on the floor and gave it to me. The couple who tried to rob me panicked, as soon as I recovered my walled they thought about leaving the metro, but the doors closed right away…

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Now this is the story from the other guy’s perspective, the one who found the walled… We were 4, one girl went to one of the doors, and the three of us to the other one. But from her side there was more space, so we decided to join her, but to avoid to be locked outside the metro, and since it was in the same car, we decided to cross the corridor. The guy that was with me was the first one to cross the corridor, and he went next to the door (the one that faces the other track, so it won’t open). The girl was the second one, and then I was the last one (the target).

The robber took my walled and passed it right away to a old woman, but she was next to my colleague, and he saw everything…, and she noticed that he was looking at her… As soon as I spoke up, she starred at my colleague and dropped the wallet to the floor, and started shaking. The guy who robbed started sweating like a pig…, and as soon as the train stopped again, both jumped out of the metro.

Exploring Athens, the capital of Greece, in three days
Exploring Athens, the capital of Greece, in three days

Their strategy was interesting, if I were to blame someone, I would blame the guy and not the old lady. But if he wasn’t that dumb and amateur, I wouldn’t even notice anything. If he did that while the metro was moving, I wouldn’t suspect anything, and by the end of the day I would think I had lost my walled with all documents, but no money… Lesson learnt, be more mindful of my stuff.

The third day of exploring Athens

That was a day filled with monuments…, rocks and stones…, and a lot of photos! Athens is a city of contrasts, everything changes from one district to the next. It is a huge impact that put a smile on my face. 6 months seem to be a lot of time, but it also felt like not enough time to discover the country and the city.

Pollution? Yes, and you can feel it in the air. Ugly city? Some people would say so, but I fell in love. Would I like it? I felt like a child, everything was amazing, even the robbery triggered some interesting feelings. I was the one that stayed more relaxed after all of that, and the one that took it in a more chilled way. Maybe that was me just being reckless…

Getting to know Athens at night

After 2 months living in Athens, I finally did see Athens at night (Acropolis). Those rocks that you can see at the center of the city is where I was the day before, the rest of that area is restricted as an archeological area.

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The first time I visited the Acropolis was with a Portuguese girl who was living in Athens. I saw a city that amazed me, but an ugly city…, too much concrete and not so much green. This time I explored the city with the couchsurfing people, and we even had a quite special guided tour!

Athens isn’t just one city, it is two, one that during the day lives in chaos, confusion, noise and pollution. And a peaceful Athens, magnificent and dazzling that lives during the night, though only possible to enjoy from the Rock of Acropolis! Something incredible, an excellent place to take someone at night!

That tour had everything, from mythological tales explaining how ancient Greece was “created” by the gods, to more recent stories of the roman era and the absurd politics and ending with even more absurd decisions of the actuality. It was one night when I learnt a lot about the city where I was working and living.

Athens at night
Athens at night

One of the places I liked the most to visit was the Rock of Acropolis, also known as Areopagus, where a lot of people gather (mostly younger people) to see the city at night. It is a really quiet and beautiful place, nothing to do with the city chaos.

After one day with some rain that spoilt a trip to my first island, the night made me forget all the rain. And just to think I was a bit uneasy about joining that group, I really didn’t expect anything alike…, how wrong I was and how much fun I had!

By Gil Sousa

Portuguese expat in Cork, traveler and food enthusiastic.

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