I arrived in Athens July 2. The flight from Istanbul was uneventful, but the security checks and preparation required for moving between Turkey and Greece were daunting – sigh. What was I thinking to travel internationally during the covid pandemic?
This time, I stapled the covid vaccination card to my passport. During previous flights, I thought I’d lost it a gazillion times, but found it in the bottom of my bag at the end of a hectic day.
Luckily, my paperwork was in order, but getting to the departure gate at IST required multiple security screenings and presenting the Passenger Locator Form (PLF) over and over. It would have been easier to just tattoo the PLF QR code on my forehead!
I sat next to two rough-and-tumble Saudis during the Aegean Airlines flight. I didn’t pay extra for a seat selection on a 1.5-hour flight and was seated at the window, sandwiched in by two BIG Saudi guys. They practically climbed over me to get aerial shots of the Greek Islands. I came close to smacking one of them, and they backed off a bit. Gory images of Jamal Khashoggi flashed through my mind…
Athens is an endearing place, and I’m comfortable here. It’s a big change from Istanbul. Undecided if I’ll spend my entire 90-day EU allotment in Greece – maybe so? My apartment is comfortable, and I had a refreshing night’s sleep. It’s in the popular Koukaki neighborhood at the foot of the Acropolis and Filopappos Hill. I’m still getting oriented and organized, taking care of the humdrum – SIM card, metro pass, Euros, etc.
In Greece, you’re required to physically distance, but face masks aren’t mandatory when outside. That’s great, because in the heat, it’s miserable walking and climbing hills with a mask.
THERE’S SO MUCH TO DO IN ATHENS! It’s a wild and crazy place. My apartment is 5 minutes’ walk from the Syngrou-Fix Metro station. During my last visit in 2013, Athens was in the midst of austerity demonstrations in Syntagma Square. Now, Greece is part of the EU.
My apartment is in an interesting residential district, within walking distance to just about anything your heart could desire. The following attractions are a 10-15-minute walk away, and I will visit them several times. The hour of the day and position of the sun or moon creates fascinating reflections on the structures:
- Odeon of Herodes Atticus
- Acropolis Museum
- Temple of Olympian Zeus
- Athens National Gardens
It was dark by the time I ventured out last night, and every block I walked had two or more outside pubs overflowing with locals – afterall, it was Friday night. Although the Greek economy is slow, the people are calm and sweet. Athens has a soft, appealing ambience, and everyone I’ve encountered so far has been warm and welcoming.
The weather is hot, like the US West Coast, but today it’s only in the 90s, rather than 100s. My apartment is air-conditioned, so if things get too heated, I can retreat there. I unknowingly got a “farmer’s tan” with funny-looking t-shirt marks on my arms.
Athens is a good place to get a performing arts fix. They have outdoor concerts all summer at the Megaron Athens Concert Hall. A variety of artists and music are presented. The Musicians of Camerata are performing Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons on July 15, and I hope to get a ticket.
I talked to locals about less-touristed outlying areas to visit and am researching interesting suggestions – Milos Island, known as a “beaches paradise,” Kalambaka Village, and Preveza, described as a Greek “seaside gem and serious bucket-list adventure”.
What a mesmerizing tour of beautiful destinations along with stunning photographs🧡Thanks for posting dear
Thanks for reading :o)!
My pleasure 🌷
It looks gorgeous! I only spent a short time in Athens, but in the day – decades ago – I lived on Crete for five months and felt very at home. it would all be different now.
The islands are surely a totally different world than Athens, but I hope to experience a few (small) new ones this trip. Lots of people from Belgrade visit Crete. It’s a popular Serbian holiday spot. The heat definitely makes running around Athens more difficult…. Skies are perfectly crystal blue, and the sun is wicked!
All those years ago I spent a week on Patmos. Easily reached from Piraeus. Again, so gorgeous (then), and completely different music, accent and slightly different food to Crete.
When I lived on Crete Serbia was Yugoslavia and no one was getting in or out of the country easily. My part of the island was popular with Swedish and German tourists.
I remember the Aegean sea as being the most blue I had ever seen. And I got so dark in my time on Crete that no one believed I was Aussie (I do have Sicilian blood).
Tourist season ran from April to October. You are slap bang in the hottest part of the year which will extend in August. Enjoy!
Will make a note of Patmos!
Whoops!! That should have read Poros.
The only things more abundant in Greece than islands are spinach and yoghurt. I’m addicted to the spinach yoghurt on pita bread!!!!
mmmm and dolmades. Sheep’s yoghurt with honey. Lamb kebabs. Greek salad. Spanakopita. But not snails. I could never go the snails..
Greece is a place where you can relax and totally be yourself! I love that about it! I’m on the way to Acropolis Hill but stopped for a bite at a café where they spray cold water on you from above to help with a cool down.
I forgot moussaka. I love real Greek moussaka. I love anything that uses eggplant.
Ordered a LARGE draft beer and got several approval smiles from the macho guys at the cafe :)….. Greek beer is almost as good as Belgian beer, especially in heat.