As I mentioned in my last blog post, the view from my room at the Athenaeum was of the Parthenon. Yes, the Parthenon. I can’t quite describe the feeling. The Parthenon is a fixture from textbooks, not something I’d ever really expect to see while lying in bed. But there you have it. If you want one of the world’s most glorious nighttime views, spend the night in one of the Athenaeum’s Parthenon-facing rooms. It is lit up at night, making it even more spectacular than it already is during the daytime.
I only spent two days in Athens and while my BF and I hustled to see the Parthenon on our first day, we simply couldn’t resist and paid another visit the following day. It was just that incredible. It was sweltering both days and it’s a bit of a climb to get to the top, so be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen and a hat and bring water. (I feel like I’ve provided this advice for almost every destination on this trip but it’s just imperative, especially when walking great distances in the scorching summer heat in Europe.)
There’s plenty to do in Athens but when your time is limited like ours was, you must pick and choose, especially if you want to see the Parthenon twice! When Seabourn Odyssey deposited us in the port of Piraeus, we jumped in a cab (the port is crawling with them!) and struck a deal with our cab-driver. For a pre-determined amount, he would tour us around Athens in his car for one hour. This was a great way to get a sense of the city before we set out on our own on foot.
We visited the old Olympic stadium and Hadrian’s Gate. The history here is palpable, the air is thick with it. And just like my trip to Israel, you can’t help but be humbled by it, by the knowledge that these ancient lands were the birthplace of civilizations, that our world today stems from those worlds.
Old-world history aside, I loved The Plaka, the oldest neighbourhood in Athens. Sure, it’s a bit of a tourist trap but the old streets are lined with restaurants for al fresco dining and all manner of shops, from big clothing stores to the boutiques of veritable artists. There’s a buzz in the early evening as tourists and locals alike descend upon the area for dinner but it’s pleasant, especially on warm evenings, to embrace (metaphorically, of course) the crowds and stroll leisurely through the streets.