Hands up those of you who dream of visiting Athens? This famous city known for ancient cultural heritage and stunning views was high on my list of dream destinations, and after graduating from history of arts the urge was growing stronger. Naturally, I soon booked the flight, planned everything, and… didn’t really get what I’d been hoping for.
The city’s famous
Simple and obvious as that, but the problematic side of this fact strikes you after you actually come to Athens. Because, you know, the problem is not the waiting for the tickets to Acropolis for two hours, the problem is not the crowded trams/metro/buses. The problem is that you actually cannot find a place at the beach, cannot take a photo that does not end up being a group photo (of 65 strangers all around you) and the problem is you may end up hungry for one more hour, because there’s simply no place left for you at the restaurant.
Yes, I exaggerate. But truly, do not try to convince yourself that the crowds are “not that huge” and that you “just have to have a talk with the staff and skip the line,” because that’s what pisses many in the queue off. Rather wait as the others do, patiently let other tourists take photos (because you’re gonna spend so much time doing the exact same) and if you are tight on time, do not visit Athens. You wouldn’t enjoy it this way anyway.
The ancient art vs. “street art” lead a never-ending fight
Yay, we’re in Athens… or are we? The street art in itself is a thing I will never stop admiring. However, the things decorating walls and fences in Athens are far from being called that. What’s more – they’re everywhere. It was actually my first impression of the city – signs, sprayed incomprehensible words, numbers and curses in various languages.
My advice is – when choosing your accommodation, search up the place in Google Maps. Get a picture of what it looks like around and possibly how far the waste containers are (you know, sun and rubbish are not friends). Secondly, get ready for dirtier streets, graffiti and weird slogans, do not expect buildings resembling Parthenon all around the city, and you’ll be alright. Surprised even, maybe.
Students can have a go… or two for free
Athens are a blast for students or those who still have the valid student ID card. The free entrance applies to the biggest cultural venues, inluding Acropolis, Ancient Agora and Hadrian’s library. However, many
stupid rules apply there. Some of them include: only university students and people up to 18 go for free (so go fuck yourself, if you are a high school student and 19 at the same time). OR that it only applies to the students of European Union, so international visitors that belong to the age group can also “ef” themselves.
BUT the trick is not to give up when buying tickets. If you speak nicely to the staff and try to explain what type of school or ID you have (even if it’s not valid according to the rules), there’s at least 80% chance that you’ll go for free. And if you do not succeed at first but still want to visit more sites, go for the combo ticket, which can save you a lot of money. All you need to know about this option is here.
Girls just wanna have skirts
Just a quick note for my fellow female travellers – Greece is
apparently not the best country when it comes to respecting women. I’m not saying we should dress for the people around us, but sometimes it’s better not to “tease the lion,” so I rather decided to wear long skirts or shorts (but not that short) most of the time of my stay. In my case – thankfuly – only booty calling and curses spoilt my day, but it mostly depended on the places that I visited.
So, for you to choose the clothes wisely, here are some places I did not feel safe at:
- Piraeus (the port and nearby market, further in the city or on the beaches – totally safe)
- any metro station outside city centre
- Neo falliro (these area and metro stop – renamed to Falliro – are very dangerous during football matches. I think this is obvious because the local football team has a stadium there, but just to be sure, you should think about possibily of a match being played, when you visit)
- Filopapou hill and Aeropagus hill during the night (although the views and peace are marvellous especially from these hilltops, I advice you to go there with accompanion during the night)