Happy February peeps! Plus, Happy Belated Valentine’s Day and 6th anniversary to my blog and I (crazy, right?)! I’ve been M.I.A. the past few weeks as I’ve been trying to shake off my post-holiday blues after my amazing holiday to the beautiful country that is Greece! As you may have seen on my Instagram I was there for exactly one week – I got back almost two weeks ago and am still reminiscing about the amazingness of it all!
Firstly I have to admit I was very fortunate to take this trip, as it was ridiculously spontaneous. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if spontaneity were truly a part of our everyday lives, or better yet, when it comes to travelling? But let’s face it, spontaneous isn’t exactly cheap a lot of the time. Luckily for me enough it doesn’t seem like a lot of people want to travel to Greece in January and February, which is ridiculous because it’s such an ideal time to go! The tourist attractions are much less crowded and you may very well get lucky with the weather. I am also fortunate to have one of my best friends living in Athens, who was sweet enough to brainwash me into visiting him once and for all. So thanks to Ryanair I found myself a RIDICULOUSLY cheap flight and discovered a fascinating country…
I was lucky enough to visit not just Athens, but also the island of Crete for a few hours – specifically the area of Chania – and the area of Mycenae to discover the beautiful treasury of Atreus (a few pictures below). My stay in Crete was super short – just a few hours – but super sweet, as my friend and I walked by the beautiful port, enjoyed lovely weather and got a bite of a Greek town’s lifestyle. I chose a picture my friend took of me in Chania as the ‘introductory’ or opening image because in many ways it sums up my memories of Greece: the Mediterranean spirit, sea, history and beautiful weather…
This post has been a hard one to do, as I am still overwhelmed by the sheer amount of magnificence I came across in Greece and have found it impossible to choose just a few pictures from the hundreds I took incessantly. But here it is, a shortish, visual diary of my Greek adventure, loosely and liberally divided into five sections consisting of the things I loved the most…
1. The Acropolis and Ancient Agora. All Of It.
My opinion on the Acropolis is not a democratic one – YOU HAVE TO SEE IT. You don’t like history? You don’t like art? You don’t like architecture? Those aren’t excuses.
I myself never excelled in history but I did love learning about Classical Greece and its beautiful architecture. Hence why seeing all these things that years before I had witnessed only in textbooks is a pretty indescribable feeling. Scratch that – it’s simply magical. So yes, you MUST see the breathtaking Acropolis when visiting Athens, even if you’re not a fan of history, art and architecture. Why? Because it’s incredible. You are witnessing what humanity was capable of thousands of years ago. Yes, they are just ruins, a bunch of rocks even, but they are a bunch of incredible rocks. Pay those 12€ (or 12.50€) and go and witness an extraordinary piece of our humanity – we are capable of so many terrible things, but also of sheer brilliance.
I absolutely loved the Temple Of Olympian Zeus, there was just something mesmerising about it.
Views from right at the top of the Acropolis, right by the Parthenon. Pretty impressive.
Despite being covered in scaffolding, the Parthenon still looked pretty impressive. Or is this Propylaea? What can I say, I do find the Acropolis amazing but a little confusing, as there are so many different parts to it!
A view of the theatre of Dionysus, seen from high above.
My favourite part of the Acropolis? It would have to be the Erechtheion, specifically the Porch of Caryatids. The fact that those female column-sculptures are replicas (and that the real ones are in the Acropolis museum) did not make this sight any less wonderful – simply knowing that thousands of years ago someone had the idea of replacing columns for super sexy sculptures of women is mind-blowing enough.
I also found out a sad but fascinating story about these Caryatids. In 1801, one of the Caryatids was
stolen removed by some greedy guy called Lord Elgin – he wanted to decorate his Scottish mansion. Athenian legend had it that the remaining five Caryatids could be heard wailing for their lost sister at night – isn’t that sad and beautiful?
2. Columns In All Shapes And Sizes
Columns, columns, columns… I couldn’t get enough of all those columns. I love how Greece is a country of columns. Don’t ask me why, but I love Greek columns. They do not only make excellent #ootd props but are also true statements in their own rights. This was one of the things I loved the most about studying Greek art and architecture, so the art geek in me was thrilled to put some knowledge into practice by spotting Corinthian, Doric and Ionic columns. Which is your favourite? As a person who loves detail and pizzaz, I would have to say Corinthian columns do it for me – as seen at the beautiful temple of Olympian Zeus.
Then again, Ionic columns are pretty swell and iconic in their own right, as seen here at the Roman Agora of Athens.
Isn’t this tower (which is within the Roman Agora) fascinating? Its official name is the Horologion of Kyrrhestos, but it is also called the Tower of the Winds.
There isn’t exactly a lot to see at the Roman Agora of Athens and Library of Hadrian, but for some reason I found it amazing – those columns are so reminiscent of what must have been an architectural wonder. Plus as it was free from the hustle and bustle of Athens it was so easy to explore.
If I am not mistaken this was the Temple of Hephaistos, located on Agoraios Kolonos Hill, in the Ancient Agora. It’s mind-blowing, mostly because there is so much left of it! It might not have been built B.C., but it’s still shocking to know that this building is almost 2000 years old… and whilst those might be just Doric columns, they still have the wow factor.
The Stoa of Attalos. What a building. It houses the Museum of the Ancient Agora, and even though one could argue that it lacks ‘authenticity’ (it was reconstructed in the 1950’s), it still won me over. All those columns and shadows… I could have spent hours there taking pictures. Well, I couldn’t because the Acropolis and Ancient Agora are only open ’til 3pm… isn’t that SO early (I’m not sure if the hours are different in summer)?
So there you go folks, if you want to enjoy all the different parts of the Acropolis (The Parthenon, Old Temple of Athena, Temple of Athena Nike, Erechtheion, Theatre of Dyonisus, Hereon, Sanctuary of Zeus Polieus, plus the Temple of Olympian Zeus and Ancient Agora, as well as a bunch of other significant monuments) at a super leisurely rate, then be there for 10am sharp. And were comfy shoes – it turns out my Clarks aren’t that great for climbing up hills to worship the Gods. It was even the first time in over a decade I’d wished I owned a pair of trainers.
The Temple Of Hephaistos seen from afar – ain’t she (or he) a beauty?
3. So. Much. Street Art.
I knew about Berlin, New York, Miami… but I didn’t know about Athens. In fact I only found out out of sheer instinct – I googled to see if there happened to be any street art tours in Athens. And whilst I didn’t end up going on any of those tours, I was right all along – this historical city happens to full of street art. Some of it crap, lots of it amazing. I will be doing a separate post on this as there is so much worth sharing.
4. Cats & Dogs
As a cat lover, the fact that Athens (and to a certain degree Mycenae and Crete) was inundated with cats was a wonderful thing to find out. They were literally everywhere – and there were plenty of dogs lying about in the sun too (this gorgeous puppy was spotted by the treasury of Atreus). I just hope that be they feral/wild/on the loose, they are treated well.
5. Etc. (tortoises, the ruins of Mycenae, and other cultural observations)
The most unexpected sighting? Tortoises walking around the Roman Agora. Not one, but at least three. Were they left there by someone uncaring? Is this their actual habitat? Seeing them in any case was a pleasure – and my God, are they fast.
Oh, the treasury of Atreus. It was so worth leaving Athens for. What a work of art. It used to some kind of mass tomb – Tholos tomb, to be precise – but now it’s just an awesome cave that truly deserves to become a Hollywood star. I mean, isn’t it fascinating? Worthy of any action movie.
Like I said, a country of columns… we stumbled upon this restaurant/events venue (we actually have no idea what it was) when walking back from Mycenae and I couldn’t resist a cheeky pic amongst those super elegant columns.
Upon our return to Athens from Mycenae by bus we caught a glimpse of the sea and sunset… it was divine.
My friend and I walked around a park in Athens it and it wasn’t anything out of this world, but…
It was a very beautiful day and walking around in snippets of nature was lovely – hence why I will always remember this park. I have no idea what it was called, my friend thinks it might have been Victoria Park (which was sadly in the news not that long ago because a lot of refugees were sheltering there), but we really aren’t sure. It was a fairly big park that even had a mini church, and just outside of this church there was what I’m guessing was a tombstone. There was no English explanation so I never found out exactly who this was, but I couldn’t help photographing it. I understand some people wouldn’t think this was morbid, but I truly admire the sheer beauty of the statue – it’s like a male version of Sleeping Beauty.
These beautiful columns were part of a lovely building called the Zappeion (used for meetings and ceremonies), located within Athen’s National Garden.
So it turns out Greece is a country of motorbikes and Vespas. Motorbikes are cool and Vespas are adorable so I’m cool with that – in the space of a week I took a total of three pictures with these props, which is more than I would take in London in months!
A glimpse of the lively flea market neighbourhood Monastiraki Square, next to the Ancient Agora.
And you’re probably thinking, “What about food?! Surely Greek food is awesome?” Of course it is, so awesome in fact that I’m dedicating a separate post to it, as well as a few #ootd posts too…
I really didn’t want to make this sound like a guide on what to do in Athens, since travelling is very personal to each and every one of us and what I like might be a nightmare for others! I am happy to contradict myself though when it comes to the Acropolis, because I do feel super strongly about it – no one’s trip to Athens will be complete without seeing these incredible ruins!
Like I said, I have quite a few more posts prepared about my Greek trip, so if by any chance you wouldn’t mind getting a few ‘tips’ or ideas, stay tuned for my food and art posts!
All pictures taken by me and friend between January 28th and February 2nd 2016 in Athens, Crete and Mycenae.