Wednesday, August 17, 2011

In love with Athina (Athens, Greece 7th - 14th of August

Sun 7th of August, 2011
I do not want to wake up... do not want.. hey, hold on.. could it be? Athens! I woke up to an interesting day, since this was the day I was going to live to Greece! I've been waiting for such a long time for this vacation, excitement was overflowing. I was at the Helsinki-Vantaa airport 8.35, since my plane was taking off at 10:45. After making it through of the airport check-in, I decided to take a small breakfast that included super yummy (and expensive) croissant and glass of orange juice. I also made a Skype call to my friend in Denmark, just to give some update and get company for my breakfast.

Waiting my flight to leave was really nerve wrecking, since I just wanted to get to Athens and to tell the truth, I'm not fan of flying either. When the plane finally took off, I was already starting to feel happy.

My flight was in Athens about 14.30 or something, even earlier than it should. First I had some problems with lost suitcase, but thanks to my local friend who was waiting for me at the airport, that mess got solved and my suitcase was found. It's good to have someone speaking greek, since even with perfect english, you can't always manage. We took a taxi to my hotel, and finally I started realizing that this week will be superb.

Hotel that I was staying in, is Classical Athens Imperial, five-star hotel in Metaxourghio, definitely worth of money. Staff was nice, hotel was clean and tasteful, before I saw the carpet of my room. It was just horrible. But I shouldn't complain, everything else was nice and I even got upgraded to a better room, from standard double to deluxe, not bad.

King size bed, marble bathroom with shower and bathtub, TV, decent view and basic stuff.
And the view from a rooftop pool & bar.. I don't think there's anything more beautiful than this;
Acropolis view from the rooftop of Classical Athens Imperial

First day pretty much passed by settling in and taking it easy, hanging with my friend and having dinner down in the hotel restaurant. I tried out Caesar's Salad with chiken, probably one of the best Caesar Salads I've ever had. Sleeping was pretty easy after that tiring day, and even the hotel bed was decent enough not to give me any trouble.

Mon 8th of August, 2011
Good morning Athens! Nice to wake up and see sun high up in the sky, even tho I was really tired, american breakfast that was included to my room got me up and going. It was the perfect breakfast that included everything, breads and "bread accessories", yogurts, puddings, juices, coffee, tea, croissants and other pastry, cakes, fruits, bacon, pancakes, sausages, tomatos with cheese, eggs.. basically everything for every taste. Too bad I didn't take pictures from breakfast, tho at least I don't have to drool to my laptop. Delicious.

Second day went pretty easily, me and my friend went out for some basic places-to-see in Syntagma. These included the Parliament house and Athens National Garden. I was enjoying myself, even tho the heat was definitely getting to me, after all, in Finland it was like 10 degrees cooler.

Something to see if you take a trip to Athens;
The Parliament House
We found something super cute from the National Garden! Few clips from there;
Music by Projected Twin
Song: Circle of Two (feat. Temple Tigers)
Album: Earth To The World

Rest of the day went pretty much relaxing at the hotel, first dinner (really yummy spaghetti bolognese) and then amazing time at the rooftop, looking at the view and stars.

Tue 9th of August, 2011
3th day in beautiful Greece, wake up, breakfast and ready to roll! Plan was to finally get to THE tourist spot, heart of Athens.. Acropolis. First we visited Acropolis museum, lots of rocks that we never really looked that much closer, mostly just walked around and I was very interested about my friend telling some ancient historical stories that I almost forgot to pay attention to the museum itself. It was definitely nice to have own private guide who had something to tell about the place and it's history.

After the museum, it was time to meet "The Rock", Parthenon to be exact. Climbing up to the hill was some hard work in that 35 degree heat, it's a good thing my guide took care that I got enough to drink and had some time to rest in shadows so I wouldn't totally die.
When we finally got up, it was totally worth it, even tho that time there was still cranes and scaffolds. Maybe someday I get to see that place when it's clean from all of that modern stuff that kinda ruins the main feeling.

Acropolis under reconstructions
Even the view from Parthenon was worth of climbing up;
When this picture was taken, I had no idea I would end up to that exact spot some days later (saturday);

Acropolis was definitely the place to visit, and worth it, tho I highly recommend to visit it as late as possible to avoid a heatstroke. Good thing my friend/guide kept me from not dying because of thirst or heat. Smoothie after all that climbing was definitely the savior for the trip back to my hotel. This day definitely tired me pretty good, after dinner and some pool time, I slept like a baby and my feet muscles enjoyed the break.

Wed 10th of August, 2011
Wednesday started out with super early wake up (5:54), since I was supposed to go for Hydraiki Tours Athens One Day -cruise and bus was coming to pick up me and my friend at 7am. So no time for breakfast and I have to say, I was super tired. When the bus came, our trip to Piraeus port began. From there, we got on ship and got really lucky, since there was somewhat many tourists getting on the same cruise, but thanks to my friend who is greek, we got in faster instead of standing outside waiting for masses to get on that boat. For some reason they asked for two greeks out of the masses, so I guess this local-thing really pays off. I definitely couldn't have had better Greece guide.

First we set sail to Hydra, one of the three Saronic Islands we were going to visit this day. Hydra was 69km away from Piraeus, so trip there took quite a while. Tho it was really nice to enjoy the sun and sea. Hydra was pretty tourist-crowded but nice and pretty island. It was second smallest out of the three islands we visited (64.443 km2). Public transportation was mainly donkeys and water taxis. If we only knew that there was nice place for swimming, since my friend didn't take any swimming gear with him. That's why before leaving to the other islands, we took a while to visit the shops and find swimming trunks for him, just in case we get another chance.
After Hydra island, there was also lunch served at the ship, but this was definitely something that explains why price wasn't any higher. But at least it was some food.

Hydra's alleys were pretty but really narrow.
Sunset Restaurant was really nice looking, too bad we didn't have chance to eat there. Shadoww!
Sunset Restaurant @ Hydra Island
Swimming spots were more than tempting in that heat;
Hydra had lots of homeless kitties all over the place, and most of them were really nice and cute;

Second Island we headed to was Poros, smallest of the three islands (49.582 km2) and most traditional. We didn't really walk around too much, the main spot was Poros clock tower but we decided not to climb there, at least not this time. This island didn't have swimming spot anywhere near, so we decided to take it easy because the heat was really getting to us, and especially me, super white finnish girl that I am.
Port of Poros

Third island we went to, was biggest of the three (87.41 km2 ), called Aegina. Most modern but to tell the truth, we didn't really enjoy the island itself too much, since while we were arriving to that island, we spotted really nice beach and we both were dying slowly because of the heat. So right away, after getting out of the ship, we set our course to that beach and cooling waves. We played in the water pretty much the whole time and made it just in time back the ship. Water was super warm and nice, and even tho it would have been nice to look around a bit, I have no regrets, beach time was awesome. For the same reason I don't really have pictures from the last island, but that's why we have google.

Aegina port (photo from wikipedia)

Then it was time to get back to Piraeus and to the hotel. We stopped to grab some local food right next to my hotel, and when I was fed, it was time to rest because next day another friend(s) would be joining us. Cruise took the whole day, and I would definitely recommend it for anyone visiting Athens. Price is really good, and it was nice to see the places. Whatever I didn't see this time, I have all the time in the world to go back there someday and visit these islands again.

Thu 11th of August, 2011
Morning started again with really yummy breakfast and getting ready to meet couple more friends. We went to really nice beach club for some coffee. It was really nice to hang out with some friends, but I didn't take any pictures since I was enjoying myself way too much. After coffee we went some food, crepes to be exact (pictures can be found in google). These come in salty and sweet forms, however you want it. These are basically another version of pancakes, so nothing extreme but not the most common food in Finland. Mine was sweet with chocolate, coconut & ball of vanilla ice cream.

Crepe dish (Picture from google)
When our friends went home, it was pretty late so I decided it was good time to go up to the rooftop just to chill out, and to be honest, I was a bit scared to go out that day when it was already getting dark. I also took a good rest that night, because next day was going to be fun beach time with one of our friends.

Fri 12th of August, 2011
Wake up, breakfast, make up and out! Time to head for a nice beach. We had awesome time and again, no pictures... I fail so hard when having too much fun! It was nice to go swimming again, I love greek sea, so warm, blue and clear. After having superb beach time, we headed for local fast food place which was really good. I just sticked with chicken, when the other two had something more burger-place stylish food.
It was time to say goodbyes for a friend that joined us for two days, since this was the last time I would get to see him before my next trip to Greece. After that, taxi to a metrostation and back to the hotel. At the hotel we took some pool time on the rooftop, and after that shower and clothing change before going out again.

When we got out, we headed to Kerameikos, really nice place with lots of restaurants and clubs. There we walked around for a while and then stopped for eats to a place called Gazi College. Really nicely decorated study-styled restaurant / bar, with some basic foods. Prices weren't too bad either, and their smoothies were super yummy.

Gazi College @ Kerameikos
We spotted many other cool places that looked like something to try out when I get to Greece next time;

That was definitely a place worth of seeing and I definitely wanna go there again. ;) After visiting Kerameikos it was time for sleeps. It was actually kinda sad, since at this point I knew, I have only one full day left.

Sat 13th of August, 2011
It was kinda sad to wake up, knowing this was the last full day in Athens. But I was also happy that it wasn't the last day. Time for breakfast and best pancakes ever, some pool time and after that it was time to head out.

Hanging by the pool and getting some slight tanning in good company, swimming in the pool and having some light lunch, oh all the good times.
Rooftop Pool
Rooftop view by day
Crazy bird by the pool, this bird had the coolest hair-do ever! CUTE!

We went for a cool place, University of Athens in Panepistimiou, that I saw earlier and I wanted to go see closer. Took some really nice pics of the place and walked around quite a lot.

University of Athens

After visiting University of Athens, we headed to Monastiraki square. There we walked around a lot, checking out places and restaurant. We had nice long talk while sitting in the park, since that was the last day to go thru what we've done that week and what we haven't talked about yet.

After that we went a bit further to see where to eat and discovered how nicely you can see Acropolis from there;
We found nice place for eats, even tho our waiter had stick in his ass for some reason..
And darker it got, view got better and better. It was sooo amazing.
After eats and having some good time, it was time to get back to the hotel and visit the rooftop for one last time;
Rooftop pool by night

Last night was pretty sad, knowing that tomorrow would be the day I have to leave, I didn't sleep that well. My body had finally adjusted to the heat and sun, I got used to the culture and how Athens looks like.. But I guess, I had to come back so that I could return, or that's what I tried to think.

Sun 14th of August, 2011
Last breakfast in hotel restaurant, super yummy and I enjoyed it as much as I could. This morning I decided to go unhealthy and just stick to sweet stuff, like pancakes, little bit of cake, watermelon and fresh squeezed orange juice, just to make myself feel better.

I remembered to take picture of the restaurant bar, which is one of the main things to see in this hotel.
Hotel Restaurant & Bar

No more pictures from this date, since it was such a sad day for me. My friend helped me get to the airport, which was also very emotional trip with metro, because it was so fun to spend that week together. There was some crying included when I had to go, but at least I took off with the thought that I will come back. I love Athens.

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