17 Oct 17, Tue
We flew to Athens by a direct flight from Singapore via Scoot, which took slightly beyond 11 hours.
The directions at the airport guided us to the train station where we bought metro tickets at 18 Euro for two to bring us to Athens City.
Checked into an Airbnb that only costs us SGD 116 for two nights. A cosy apartment within walking distance from Aghios Ioannis metro station. The owner was helpful in providing the direction from the airport to the apartment and advising on where to get our stuff like data SIM card. There were limited choices for dinner at night in the neighbourhood though, hence I would suggest to get a nice dinner somewhere else first before heading back to this area.
Taking a stroll from the apartment in the attempt to see more of the non-touristy part of Greece, we headed to the Acropolis.
Nearing the Acropolis metro station, we were approached by a lady who enthusiastically encouraged us to take a stalk of rose from her, claiming that it was free due to a festival. She then handed another rose to my partner and asked us to kiss. The situation changed when she asked us to give her money for the baby inside her tummy. She asked for 10 euro. We soon came to our realisation that this was a trick and we witnessed another lady pulling the same stunt.
The entrance to Acropolis costs 20 Euro each pax. Being the iconic attraction in Athens, I decided to go despite the impression given by my friend that it was boring. It turned out better than expected. The Acropolis of Athens is an ancient Citadel located on an rocky outcrop. The main material used is Pentalic marble. The marble ground surface can be very slippery. Damage takes place over time due to internal structure, action of environmental and biological agent and human activities. Hence, one can see conservation work going on there. Akro means high or extreme or edge and Polis means city. The Acropolis offers a splendid view of the Athens city.
From the Acropolis, we walked to Plaka. With its narrow pedestrian street and lovely pastel-painted houses, this picturesque setting invites leisurely strolls. We headed to Mnisikleous Street famous for its restaurant staircase. The street was bustling.
Tried a Greek dish called Moussaka, a combination of eggplant, potato and ground meat (lamb or beef).
We purchased a one-day metro ticket that costs us 4.5 Euro. Our Airbnb owner recommended us to visit Athens metro mall where we can get whatever we wanted. Got our 8 GB data SIM card at 10 Euro. So cheap!
18 Oct 17, Wed
First agenda was to witness the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown soldier monument at 11am. The soldiers of the Presidential Guard stand in front of the Hellenic Parliament at Syntagma Square 24 hours a day, all year round. The guards wear kilts, leg tassels and pompom shoes. The monument honours anonymous soldiers who died fighting for the country.
Athens Olympic stadium was our next stop. It was last used for the 2004 Summer Olympics at an approximate cost of 15 billion Euro. Now, most of its once-gleaming venues have become abandoned. No catastrophic event has led to it. Coming from a country where land is scarce, it was a bit disheartening to see how the grand-looking venue has become useless. Ruined building structures, rust and weeds now define the place. On a positive note, we saw a few souls swimming in the pool and playing target sports. Other than that, the place was deserted.
Next is Mount Lycabettus, a limestone hill in Athens. We walked from metro station, Evangelismos. Even though we had not reached the base of the mountain yet, it felt like part of the hike already as we walked up the slopes and stairs. There are coffee shops along the way, if you need a rest. Prior to reaching the mountain peak, the view along the way was already scenic enough. There is a restaurant on top, though the prices possibly match the altitude. Great place to watch sunset.
19 Oct 17, Thur
Flew to Mykonos via Ryanair.
(Refer to the next blog post on Mykonos.)