05 September 2013

{Athens in a Day}

While Jurgen was able to spend about a week in Athens for a conference, I arrived in Greece later and had a total of 48 hours in the city and only one full day to explore. Wanting to get the most out of my limited time, I asked him to scout the best sites before I arrived and then proposed that we re-visit his favorites together.

24 hours in Athens, Greece

Fresh off my flight, Jurg let me know that he had booked us on an afternoon walking tour of the city with Athens Insiders.  Although I'm certainly not a 'tour person', he promised that this wasn't your usual tour company in the sense that they offered personalized city experiences for small groups... so it would essentially be just the two of us with a guide.  We were to meet with Athnia outside our hotel at 3:00pm.  

It sounded like as good a plan as any to me, although I was still slightly skeptical.

The rest of that afternoon and evening, Athnia spent six hours walking us all over Athens, starting in Exarcheia {the graffiti and anarchist hub of the city} and then meandering towards the the National Library and the The Academy.  From there we headed in the direction of the Acropolis, ducking into cafes for a drink whenever we felt the urge.  We passed intermittent Roman ruins and even discovered that Greece had been under German control throughout the early 1940's, leaving Athens with small traces of Nazi occupation.  As we wandered through the city's gardens, Athnia explained her perspective on the country's current political and economic circumstances and pointed out where and when large student demonstrations had occurred.  Just before sunset, we spent about an hour exploring the Acropolis and then soaked in the last rays of light on Mars Hill, where the Apostle Paul is rumoured to have delivered the Areopagus sermon.  We ended our evening in the historical neighbourhood of Plaka before finishing the tour and parting ways.


The verdict... 
I can honestly not imagine a way I would have rather experienced the city.

This is the first time I can remember ever actually enjoying a tour... and it's probably because it didn't really feel like a tour at all.  In essence, there was no specific itinerary, which I loved, and I felt as though I gained an insider's perspective of the city rather than a rehearsed or standardized tourist speech.  I hope more companies like Athens Insiders start popping up in other European cities, as I would definitely use them again.

 And the Acropolis... it was something I'm glad I experienced, although I think Mars Hill topped my list of Athens historical sites.  To stand in a place where the Apostle Paul may have stood was awe-inspiring.

More than anything though, I mostly just enjoyed Athens for Athens.  A quirky modern city set amidst an incredibly historic backdrop... both sides were lovely in their own way.

{Me + Athnia}

By the numbers:

We stayed at Hotel Areos for around $85 per night
We ate lots of gyros, souvlaki, moussaka & greek salads.  An average meal was around 8€.
We toured with Athens Insiders {just Jurgen, myself & a guide} for 6 hours at 40€ each.
We got around using the metro.  An all-day pass was 3€.

{For more on our time in Athens see here}

33 comments:

  1. this is breathtakingly beautiful Jenna! This is the Athens I was expecting to see!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, this is definitely more of what you see online and in the magazines! But, there's also the other side that no one seems to want to share haha. I honestly quite liked both :)

      Delete
  2. I'm not a tour person either but I'm a Context convert. I love that it's small and led by scholars who are often, quite interesting people in themselves.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When Jurgen initially explained the company to me I immediately remembered your post on Context and thought the two may be similar! I would definitely also try them based on your experience, sounds like a really good alternative to the normal tours available.

      Delete
  3. I'm not sure how I stumbled on your blog! I definitely enjoyed your recap of Athens...my husband is from Athens, I'm from Durban...we live in Miami! We visited Athens together last year before we got married and I loved it...it was obviously great visiting with someone who is from there...I can't wait for us to visit again!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is so neat! A South African married to a Greek living in the USA :) I seem to always enjoy cities and countries the most when I'm traveling with someone who lives there or has lived there. It's easier to just sit back and trust that the other person knows best in terms of itinerary while also gaining a local perspective. Hope you're able to visit again soon!

      Delete
  4. You have such a good eye with the camera, I really those shots esp the one with the sunlight coming through. I was in Greece back a s a girl and I so cannot wait to go back and take new photos! I just remember how clear the water was and how we could see the ripples on the sand down below. We ended up camping on the beach and it was an amazing trip!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for the compliment Bonnie... that means so much, especially coming from a pro like you :) It will be interesting to see what has changed and what has remained the same when you're able to visit again. Like all travels, hope it's sooner rather than later!

      Delete
  5. What a cool tour! And I adore your photos--they are so warm and filled with details. I went to Athens when I was 15 and while I appreciated everything I saw there I feel like I need to go back to take it all in again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was an incredible tour! I'm probably the hugest anti-tour person out there, so if I say it's good then you really know, just ask my family ;) Hope you're able to visit again soon.

      Delete
  6. That definitely sounds like a great way to see the city! I read recently about one similar in a German city, and I'm also hoping it will catch on :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope the trend catches on too! It's a great unconventional way to gain a good overview of a city. Jay who blogs at From There to Here uses Context tours for her European travels and they sound quite similar.

      Delete
  7. Wow this all looks so amazing! I am so happy to hear your personalized tour went well. Your photos are stunning!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was really incredible and a great way to see as much as possible in a short amount of time... without having to be herded around in a large tour group. Thanks for the compliment, of course your photos are always stunning too. I find myself falling in love with NY over and over again as I read your blog :)

      Delete
  8. Replies
    1. It was definitely my favorite thing about the city... how the historical sites blend together with the metro and the office buildings. It's like one big muddled up timeline that needs to be pieced together.

      Delete
  9. Some of these photos literally took my breath away, wow!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Athens is a very photogenic city :)

      Delete
  10. Wonderful pictures of Athens and the Acropolis Jenna! When I was in Junior High, Athens was tops on my list of places to see someday - you have renewed my interest!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Looks like you had such a wonderful time! Glad you could do it all in such a short amount of time.

    Love from South Africa

    Arum Lilea

    ReplyDelete
  12. Ahhh so much fun!!!
    Cannot wait to read the rest of your holiday trips!
    http://johced-ourjourneytoeverywhere.blogspot.com/
    xxx

    ReplyDelete
  13. Your travel recaps make me want to revisit Athens! I went as part of a school trip a few years ago and didn't really fall in love with this city. I didn't hate it either, it just didn't leave me with the best impression. I think it had less to do with Athens, but more with me being influenced with negative moods from other people, so I would love to give it a chance again! :)

    xx

    ReplyDelete
  14. I've never been to Athens but I've been to some small islands in Greece and it's so stunning! And your photos make it justice as usual, so beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Wow--you were so speedy and efficient in your trip!

    The Random Writings of Rachel

    ReplyDelete
  16. What a nice story !!!! My boyfriend is from Athens. So i am there every few months. I am totally un love with this city. Something my boyfriend will never understand :) great pictures u took as well !! Greetings from Vienna !

    ReplyDelete
  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  22. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  23. sounds IDEAL! I would love to know enough about my city to be that kind of tour guide.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I'm curious about the walking tour you took. When you booked it, did you choose from one of the themed tours, or a custom-made tour? I'm looking on the website, and not too sure what type of tour I need, or how much $$ I want to spend.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for commenting! I love reading each and every one of them :)