Athens, a city full of surprise, scares and scenery. Drivers of Greece lived up to their reputation and screamed down the highway from the airport into the city centre. Getting to our hotel north of the main tourist area left us worried for our safety… It was not a particularly well presented space, and after our initial shock we braved the streets for a walk to dinner at the local square. Food was definitely a big positive, and picking a menu choice that I couldn’t pronounce left me with a delicious tomato paste and kofta meal with a ‘side salad’ that could feed Africa.
The next day was spent with a brief visit to the Archaeological Museum of Athens, housing a myriad of sculptures and exhibits, which while we didn’t spend a long time there, is worth going for anyone interested in ancient societies. The rest of the morning we cowered in our hotel scared to walk the streets. We later were rather embarrassed to discover the much safer and beautiful area of Athens was only a two minute tube ride away… However after a Gyros lunch and naming a local stray cat we were on our way to our Topdeck Hotel meeting place.
Rooftop cocktails overlooking the city and with a direct line of sight to the Acropolis area and the Parthenon was on the agenda. The job for the eveing was to make the awkward but incredibly fast transition from strangers to mates with the 30 other Aussies (yes… every single person on the tour is Aussie). After a few meals and a few good laughs I can say I know who everyone is, I just have no idea of what their names are! I have 8 more days with these guys and will have to work on figuring out which name belongs to who! Overall we have a quality group of guys, and once again I am the baby of the group, but luckily not many people know it yet!
The next morning began a walking tour of the city, and our previous negative conceptions of the city shifted from disappointment to intrigue in a matter of moments. We walked up to the Acropolis, and were acquainted with the layout of the city and the class structure. Past an excavated Roman market and a temple to Hephaestus we climbed past the Parthenon (to visit in a few hours) and stopped in a park for a chat about the Acropolis and the history of Athens Mythology. After a few pictures at the temple of Zeus and Hadrons Arch we watched the changing of the guard and felt sorry for the blokes in full military gear in 36 degree heat! At that point we had free time to explore the Parthenon, and temples for ‘Victory Without Wings’ dedicated to the sacrifice of soldiers defending Greece from Persia. The Parthenon was interesting as I didn’t know much about it and its tipping columns and strategic positioning, and for those interested in either mythology or history is a pretty key part of the world to understand and see.
After all that, it was only 1PM! As a necessity we took a bus to the beach, and swam in the warm Aegean waters, after a buffet lunch of all the best Greek food. There isn’t much to say about the Greek beach other than the rather descriptive word of ‘pancake’. Forgiving the lack of surf we absorbed the sun and lulled about for a while before heading up to Cape Sounion to observe the Temple of Poseidon. As if that wasn’t enough dinner awaited us near Monastraki sq. with unlimited wine and Greek dancing it was a memorable evening for me, and an evening which (quite funnily) others can’t remember.
A bittersweet 5AM wakeup call loomed for the Topdeck gang as we packed our bags for the famous Island of Mykonos! A 5.5 hr boat trip is our current activity while we try to catch up on our missed sleep! I’ll let you know how it goes, as #jongmasjourney hits the islands of Greece! I am missing Sydney after my visit home, but until I return…
As Grandma’s friend Laurie always says…
“Love all around”