Getting from Sarajevo to Athens (for less money as possible) is not an easy job. First we had to come to Belgrade (by bus for 6 hrs.) and then travel to Athens (by bus for 18 hrs.). This was our first trip together as a couple and it was enough to realize that we are the best travel buddies.This was a trip of many firsts; and a first time to use Airbnb, but then we got hooked and using it ever since. We were located just 30 minute walk from the Syntagma square, and we went everywhere by foot. Having in mind that we were in Athens in August 2015., time of big protests, referendums, economical and political crises, one wouldn’t feel safe to walk by night, but the town was safe and lively.
What we always do, and would recommend it to you is, to know your neighborhood. See where the shops are, public transport, parks etc. Walking the streets of Athens is like going back in time. The reason we love to walk is because every street has something unique and you don’t know where it will take you next. Sometimes just don’t think where are you going, pick random streets and corners and you will meet the soul of the city. Walking like that we found ourselves in front of the great buildings: National library of Greece, National University of Athens and Academy of Athens, known as “the Trilogy” of architect Theophil Hansen. Across the street were luxurious fashion stores with homeless people sleeping on the floor; I guess that is problem of today’s Greece, and many other societies in the world.
The second scene, just around the corner, is the home of Greek sovereignty; The Hellenic parliament. In front of it you can see famous Evzonis changing the guard of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The guards change every hour, working in pairs they perform the slow act that makes you chill. After the change on-watchers are invited to the pictures with these perfectly still soldiers. But one tip, DO NOT SALUTE! Samir decided to salute while taking his picture, and all soldiers’ rose their guns hit them on the ground and screamed something, we all got scared. You just take the picture standing still like they do.
Just across the Parliament it is famous Syntagma square, were Greeks protested for better future and against corrupted government. The square leads you too Ermou street, also known as shopping street, filled with fashion stores, souvenir shops and restaurants. As excepted the street is crowded and besides shops there are historical monuments to be seen. The first one is the Church of Pangaea Kapnikarea, one of the oldest churches in Athens, built on the ruins of ancient pagan temple dedicated to the worship of the goddess (Athens or Demeter). After the crowded, tourist filled streets and modern shops you exit on the big open square, Monastiraki. Square is home to three major monuments: Hadrian’s library, The Church of the Pantanassa and Tzistarakis Mosque (now serving as Museum of Greek folk Art).
And don’t forget to visit old neighborhood Plaka. This lively place is filled with narrow streets, great street art and small cafes and restaurants with their tables placed on stairs. Come here and get a cold drink or tasty fish for dinner.
But what makes this city great is the fact that on every corner you can see historic buildings, temples and parks. Sometimes walking around without strict agenda and guide gives you the chance to meet the other side of the place, its people, so what if you get lost, you might find something no tour guide would ever show you.
But one thing when visiting Athens you are not allowed to miss, whether you love history and archaeology or not, is the Acropolis. Tickets are cheap considering that one ticket (costing cca. 15 euros for students) gives you access to the Parthenon, Theater of Dionysus, Hadrian’s’ Library, Old temple of Athena, Temple of Olympian Zeus. One could spend the whole day here and not feel like it is enough. And the views from Parthenon are almost as good as from the Mount Lycabettus.
Climbing on Mt. Lycabettus on 40+ degrees was maybe stupid but it was rewarding. If you don’t like to hike you can get there with the funicular railway that will get you to the top of the hill. And this is something you must visit, looking from the hill you have 360 degree view of Athens. I had a feeling that I could see every building and every street. The views go all the way to the seaside and beaches.
Here in our country some would say you weren’t on vacation if you hadn’t swum in the sea, having that in mind we packed our swimsuits and towels and want on the beach, with a tram! This was one of many surprises this town had offered us, just imagine, getting on tram from Syntagma square, driving through narrow streets, and BOOM! You find yourself on the coast. Your tram is driving parallel with the sea and beaches, which other public transport can offer you that!
All we know is that this vacation ended too fast, we needed more and for sure we will be coming back to the land of Gods.
P.S. Here you can see sunset in Athens.