We arrived in Athens by ferry late at night. We intended to take public transit to our hotel but the amount of stories we were hearing from other tourists around pickpockets and losing valuable items had us feeling nervous. As we made our way out of the pier, a man stopped us.
“You guys need a cab?”
I feel like as a traveler, the option to trust or distrust can completely alter your experience in a town. We have distrusted plenty of people – but the few times we have trusted we have been rewarded with fruitful insights into local lives and experiences. I could feel Sam tugging at me to continue walking, but I looked at the man and looked past him at his car. A regular, black car.
I think the urge to distrust comes from warnings given to us by parents at a young age. Not to trust strangers – oh and definitely don’t get into a stranger’s unmarked black vehicle.
But something about the man and the fact that so far our experience in Greece was that everything felt a bit makeshift made me reconsider. I urged Sam to follow me and after agreeing on the fare we got in the vehicle.
In the car, we connected with our driver and learned all about his family and his goals, hopes, and dreams. We enjoyed our time with him so much that we took his business card and called him to bring us to the airport when we left a day and a half later.
We arrived at our hotel, the Athens Apartments, and luckily the front desk was still open. We got keys to our room, printed out a combination ticket for the next day’s itinerary, and did a load of laundry before passing out.
We only had one full day in Athens so we woke up early and made our way to our first ancient site. Athens is hard to capture in pictures. The beige schemes don’t make for great pictures (at least by me) but I can assure you, there is something magnificent or beautiful around every bend in the road or over every crest of a hill. We visited a plethora of ancient sites, including the Acropolis, of course, but also the Ancient Agora, Roman Agora, Hadrian’s Library, and a few others. I highly recommend getting the combo ticket; you get to skip any lines (although besides the Acropolis there wasn’t a ton of congestion at any of the sights, either way) and it’s pretty cheap and makes the experience a lot more seamless.
Throughout the day, just like in Santorini, we found a couple of cats to pet. This was becoming a definite theme in our trip and we were loving it.
After spending half the day exploring under that hot, Greek sun, we went home to change and hit up the last few sights and just enjoyed Athens. Something we just kind of stumbled upon and really loved were the incredibly complex alleyways and streets you could get lost in. Following little hand painted signs towards our destinations or otherwise just kind of wandering allowed us to see incredible views and transported us to another time. It was easy to imagine yourself walking similar if not the same streets hundreds of years ago in bustling Ancient Athens.
In case your wondering – yes, that is Italian food in Greece even though we’d be leaving for Italy the next day. We were craving Italian, I don’t know what to tell you.
The next day, our flight to Rome didn’t leave until the afternoon. We woke up early and took the chance to see the sun rise over the Temple of Olympian Zeus and captured one of my favorite pictures of the whole trip.
But wait! There’s more. We decided to ring up our Greek taxi friend whose dad picked us up and brought us to this beautiful cafe Sam had been wanted to visit. We grabbed some drinks and reflected on our journey so far.
Our stay in Athens was short and incredible. We did witness some girls panicking because one of their purses got snatched. But the offender, a young man, came back around totting their theft. Officials tried to get him to return the items but he skipped and hopped about flirtatiously. The whole thing looked like a game of tag and although it sure would suck losing some valuables in a game like that, it definitely painted “pickpockets” in a different light for me.
I want to go back! Our next trip to Greece will be to Mykonos for a few days but I hope to spend more time in this incredibly vast and complex country one day.
Have you ever been to Greece or, specifically, Athens? What was your experience?