It was a nice July evening, I was home alone and kinda bored. As I struggled to fall asleep, I decided not to try anyone. Opened my laptop, ran into that Ryanair email about their discount tickets and booked a ticket for Athens, for the end of September. Then September came, and here is how I spent 7 days in Athens, Greece.
When I first booked the tickets, and somewhere in between that time and before I left for Athens, I check the weather a couple of times. It said sunny, 28 degrees. I was fully prepared to embrace summer once more, as an escape from the Romanian fall which is not always sunny.
Packed my bags, dresses and swimsuits, and the only jeans, sweater and jacket were the ones I was wearing.
Day 1 in Athens, Greece
Arrived in Athens on a sunny but windy Wednesday morning around 10 am. I took the metro from the airport to get to the city. It was 10 euros for a one-way trip. There were 2 of us and I asked at the counter if there is any cheaper ticket we could buy. The answer was ‘no’, but later on our trip, we found out that it was a cheaper option. That’s a very warming greeting to Greece.
I thought it was expensive and I found it funny because Greece was supposed to be struggling with their finances. After a quick Google search, we discover some painful truths about Greece. The high unemployment rate, one of the most expensive transport in Europe and an overall inflation in the market.
Staying in Monastiraki, the centre of Athens
This might come to a shock to you (as it was for me as well) but the city centre of Athens is inhabited by immigrants and refugees. I don’t mind, but it was so unexpected and they are so many, it looked like we arrived in a bazaar. Spices shops, mini-markets and falafel restaurants.
In the middle of that, it was our hostel. I booked the hostel based on its location and price. And it was very cheap and walking distance from the Acropolis. To put it as my boyfriend did “it looked like a bad dorm room”.
The atmosphere was tense, we got briefed on the local pickpockets and everything around seem to be in a constant state of alert. I admit I got tense too and was not what I expected. Filth, people staring, having to hold tightly to my handbag.
But we went to eat to a nice vegan place, called Vegan Nation. The staff was super nice and we liked it so much, we came back there a few more times during our stay in Athens.
Check here all the vegan restaurant I loved in Athens.
As the location of the hostel was central, everything was walking distance. And it was amazing how just after a few blocks you would leave that dubious neighbourhood and get to the big boulevards with international brand shops and tourists.
We went on a self-made walking tour to explore the centre. And we got to see the Acropolis, Syntagma Square where the changing of the guards was a huge reason to enthusiast the tourists, the Academy, the University and the Nation Library. I liked these 3 buildings so much, I decided to come back the following morning to take some photos.
Day 2 in Athens, Greece
I fought the wind and the cold and took photos in a short dress while everyone else was wearing (at least) a jacket.
Yes, you can see where I am going with this. During our trip to Athens, there was a small weather problem. There was supposed to be summer, but all of a sudden it was cold, windy and rainy. That’s why we decided to not visit any islands, as I first planned and that’s what led to discovering 2 more neighbourhoods in Athens.
Switching accommodation took about 35 minutes, walking distance. After the morning photo shoot, we had to move, as a result of the bad weather. We would have moved to an island if it wasn’t for the storm which was coming our way.
So I booked this apartment on Airbnb the night before and it turned out to be lovely. I was surprised how the city can change so much after a 30 min walk. The apartment was on the Lycabettus hill, the best place in town to get a panoramic view of Athens.
This was an uphill neighbourhood, with nice apartments and cars, clean and quiet. It was so much different than the first neighbourhood we got to know.
If you are me, walking a lot when in a new city, then this is a very nice area to explore. All the streets are packed with cute family shops, the view is spectacular and you can walk all the way to the Acropolis. Which we did on Thursday, but decided not to visit because it was raining already. It was a rare sight for Greece, everything dark and water pouring from the sky.
We bought the ticket for Acropolis and the other touristic sights, a total of 7 places, which costs 30 Euros compared to the ticket for the Acropolis which is 20 Euros. But we didn’t visit anything that day, since we are already wet and tired from the rain. The ticket is valid for 5 days and only allows 1 entry to each of the sights. And when you buy it, you can choose the first day to not be the day when you purchase the ticket.
We went to our cosy apartment, discovered a nearby supermarket, bought some stuff are realize I can’t read anything from the bill. As I counted the things I bought, I realized they charged twice the most expensive thing on the list, which was 4 Euros. They gave us the money back, cash, although we paid by card. The guy didn’t seem surprised either.
Day 3 in Athens, Greece
On Friday, we explored the Kolonaki area, and also visited the Aristotle’s Lyceum and Temple of Olympian Zeus. All of this just by walking. And the weather was not getting any better. I was cold, windy, rainy and reminded me of September days in Amsterdam.
That night, we went to another great vegan restaurant, Mama Tierra. Not far away from the restaurant, near the Omonia square, we found a nice vegan and organic supermarket. We got inside and when we wanted to leave, the shop owner closed the supermarket, as the protesting crowd was marching by. He said they had been damaging some shops earlier that week and a person died, and that’s why some of the shops were closed for a few minutes as the passed by. It happened again before we were able to get out. It seemed that was an anarchist area and people there had a weird relationship with the lawmakers.
Later that night I saw a Greek weather report on the news and it looked something big and read swirling all over the map of Greece. It was a typhoon or cyclone (because I don’t know which is what) and they were talking about it and warning people. I think they said to not get out of their houses unless it was absolutely necessary. That was when I understood why the weather looked so bad all of a sudden and why I was glad I didn’t go to an island. Probably we would have been trapped there for the entire weekend.
Day 4 in Athens, Greece
Saturday morning we climbed the Lycabettus mountain and indeed there was the best view of Athens on top. But again it was raining and it started to feel dangerous. It was also almost deserted so I guess people were following instructions and not getting out of their houses.
Later that day, we had to move again. This time we took the subway because it was raining heavily. On the way to the metro station, we discovered a football stadium and some not so great apartment buildings. Like everywhere else, Athens has people struggling to live and feed their families.
The cyclone of Athens ‘Zorbas medicane’
That was the day of the cyclone. As we arrived in the Koukaki neighbourhood, we walked for 7 minuted from the metro station. It was raining badly. But people still didn’t look too bothered by the apocalypse that was happening on the street. Cafes were opened and people were enjoying themselves inside.
We arrived at the Kyma Apartment and I was pleasantly surprised by this apartment. By far, the best accommodation in Athens. We had 1 living room with an extendible sofa and tv, a bedroom, a kitchen, and a balcony. Everything looked brand new. The person who greeted us was also very nice, as he explained everything that was to visit in Athens and the events happening that weekend in Athens.
After a short visit to the local Lidl supermarket, the storm was taking hold of the city, and there was water everywhere. I refused to get out of the apartment for the rest of the day. Cyclone they called it, and they even give it a name to this natural disaster of my trip to Athens. Zorbas they called it and it sure was impressive.
Trees were falling and water was pouring from the sky like there was nothing more to the world. There was one particular tree I was checking out on the window from time to time, and it was sure bending more than usual. That was my benchmark and it sure didn’t look good.
Day 5 in Athens, Greece
Sunday was museums’ day. As that weekend was European Heritage day, all museums had a free entrance and everywhere was full. I don’t think I ever saw a museum that full, like that last day of September in Athens. I couldn’t breathe. just wanted to go home. We visited the National Archaeological Museum, which usually costs 10 Euros. I am telling you, that museum is huge. If you love that ancient Greek history, you can easily spend half of the day there.
The second museum was the Acropolis Museum. The queue was about 200 people, in front of the museum. They were all waiting patiently in the pouring rain. I was sure at that point that I will catch I could (which luckily I didn’t). We waited an got in the museum 1 hour before its closing time. Just enough rush through it all and be kicked out 10 minutes before the official closing time. Just like everywhere else in Greece.
The locals’ neighbourhood Koukaki
We discovered that our apartment was 2 tram stops from the Acropolis and that was pretty convenient. The area was nice and comfy, cute family business all around and not so many tourists, although the Intercontinental hotel was just around the corner.
Day 6 in Athens, Greece
Woke up before the sunrise, took a look outside and it was still raining. By this time, it was raining for more than 72 hours straight. I had enough. Got into the shower, and then proceeded to get ready. I was my last full day in Athens, and I still hadn’t visited the Acropolis. By this time, I had watched more Netflix than in the last 3 months at home.
After about 1 hour, I was all ready, my make-up game was strong, but the rain was still not going anywhere. Went back to bed, waking up every half an hour to check the window. At 11 am, 3 hours later, the sky was grey, but no water was pouring out of it, so we got dressed and slowly made it to the Acropolis.
By the time we arrived at the Acropolis, clouds were starting to fade away, and in 1h it was summer again. That was the weirdest day, but I am thankful for it because I was wearing a dress and I got some nice sunrays in my photos.
From cold and wet to sunny and hot in a few hours. Talking about extreme weather. The rest of the day was lovely but also tiring. We had a lot of outdoor visiting to do. After the Acropolis, we got to see the Roman Agora and then the Greek Agora. These two sights are also included in the 30 Euros ticket. Had another fast snack at the Vegan Nation joint, which is strategically placed near the ruins’ areas.
Day 7 in Athens, Greece
Our last day in Athens and the weather is a dream. Did you ever imagine a Mediterranean summer day, living in a nice and cosy apartment, with a nice balcony, close to the seaside? Well, it was just like that. We had a few hours to explore the seaside in the morning and we did just that.
The seaside wasn’t busy, and not a lot of people were around. Just some older people were sunbathing and even swimming in the sea. I also go in to check the water temperature. It was perfect!!! I was shocked, as only 2 days ago, the entire country was under severe rain and wind. And now, everyone was acting as if nothing had ever happened.
I was sad to go. But on our way to the airport, stopped to check another vegan joint, Peas & Vegan, which is indeed a hidden gem. So glad we did stop, as it is in Koukaki neighbourhood and many locals hang out in the bars and restaurants in that area.
As a piece of advice, you can take the airport train from the Syntagma square. A ticket for the airport is 10 Euros. Please buy your ticket before you get there or from a different station because it’s really crowded there and you might miss your flight.
The airport train comes every 30 min or so and it takes almost 1 hour to get to the airport. If you get a group ticket it 18 Euros, and 1 ticket is 10 Euros.
At Syntagma square is also a bus for the airport which only costs 6 Euros. But I am not sure about the traffic.
Is there anything I left out of my ‘How I survived a cyclone” story? Let me know in the comments!