The narrow residential streets of Athens are lined with apartment buildings; the balconies covered in hanging laundry and overflowing urban gardens. During the day, the city seems to buzz with the noise of endless motorcycles and cars, only to be replaced by stray dogs barking into the night. Walking through the streets is a bit of a maze — especially since all the buildings look the same. And unless you want to be on the receiving end of a hard stare from a proud local, asking for an English menu outside of the touristy areas is out of the question.
But then you catch sight of the Acropolis — standing guard over the city — the ancient marble gleaming like a beacon or the north star for lost wandering travellers like us. One wrong turn and all we had to do was look up; It was our compass when google maps offline failed to deliver us to our destination.
The city is one giant juxtaposition. One moment you’re lost in a sea of apartment buildings and the next you’re in a clearing that opens up to the Ancient Agora with the Temple of Hephaestus and a view of the Acropolis. The mix of the old and new is startling, especially coming from a country where making it to 150 years is a monumental feat. There’s something almost casual about the way carved marble artifacts are scattered around parks as if they were regular rocks.
Athens was our very first stop on this crazy adventure, and to date, it is still the most difficult city we’ve had to overcome. Before we started our journey, I made the decision not to over-plan. I figured that having a strict schedule would be stressful when I was more interested in savouring each city. I’m still trying to figure out if this was a good decision as it was hard to walk into a city without so much as a list of restaurants to try, but we’ve managed so far. I’ve had an idea of the sites I want to see or the types of food to try, but I’ve told myself not to feel guilty if we don’t see everything. There’s always next time, right?
If there is a next time, I wouldn’t stay as long as we did. We had four whole days to explore the city and we probably could have done everything in two.
As I’m sure you know by now, I’ve been vlogging almost every day of our trip. We made two vlogs for Athens, so check them out below!