Back in Dirty Athens

I left Santorini yesterday. It was nice to finally leave the island, though it has been great, but I started feeling that I did nothing with these precious days of holiday, – except trying to get a little more brown, which is and always has been impossible for me.

There were people it was sad to say goodbye to, but that is life and that is travelling. You meet so many people and some of them you are destined to like. All you can do afterwards is remember the great days you had together.

Change of plans

I got hold of my mum through a public phone booth. The reason was the unexpected news that I has to start University not in the first week of September, but already on August 29. This happens to be the day before I return to Denmark.

Thus I’ve spent countless hours attempting to move my flight, but it is more than difficult to get a decent conversation going with Czech Airlines. All they could tell me was that I was on a waiting list.

The stress regarding the possibility that I might miss out on my first day had me break down in that public phone booth outside a supermarket on Santorini. The uncertainty also affected the planned week with my boyfriend back in Ljubljana before I had to leave for good.

If only I knew when I’d return home, I’d know if I could cut off my travels early to return to Ljubljana before planned.

Fortunately, the organisation which sent me to Ljubljana to begin with handled the situation and got me a ticket out of Ljubljana on August 25. This unfortunately is a few days before planned and I hate to be stressed when I return. But at least I can start planning.

However, as the time schedule finally came about, I started suffering from a pain in my throat which I am pretty sure is caused by the immense amounts of chlorine in the swimming pool.

In Athens, I had to change my plans of taking the night train to Thessaloniki and in stead loose a day in Athens. I’d really hoped to get a chance to see Thessaloniki, but with my much tighter schedule and the loss of a day, I have to skip that stop and go directly onwards to Skopje.

I guess I’ll see you in Skopje then!


Finally Climbing the Acropolis

Athens is dirty and the city seems almost sad. Many of the houses seem to have been built during a less fortunate period in the history of architecture. Worst of all, I really long for a breath of fresh air.

When I told my mother I was going to Athens, she asked me why! If there was one capital in Europe she never really fell in love with it was Athens. It might have The Acropolis – she told me – but the rest…

I couldn’t help think that she held a rather depressing view of a city known as the birthplace of European democracy. A city with such history must have more to recommend itself than some ancient ruins on a hill top.

Parthenon in Athens
Parthenon in Athens

When I told my colleagues in Slovenia about my travelling plans, one of them – a huge chunk of a man – gave me a German paralysing spray to use in case of emergency. It was not – he told me – because I was planning on travelling through Albania, but for my visit to Athens. Yet again, it was hard for me to imagine that the city had such a reputation.

After a few days in Athens and only with a cursory glimpse of the city, I find that I agree with my mother and that I feel less safe here than at any time during my travels through the Balkans. Athens is dirty and the city seems almost sad. Many of the houses seem to have been built during a less fortunate period in the history of architecture. Worst of all, I really long for a breath of fresh air.

Agios Eleftherios infront of Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens
Agios Eleftherios infront of Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens
And now for the good news…

But Athens is still interesting. The new metro is pleasant to use and there are definitely pleasant areas around the city centre. Moreover, for the first time since Kotor, I’ve got a chance to talk to fellow travellers. Something which I am enjoying tremendously.

And off course, I climbed up to that ruin everyone is talking about on top of that hill. And it was worth it. Absolutely!

The Caryatid Porch of the Erechtheion
The Caryatid Porch of the Erechtheion

I chose to go early in the morning, having the place all to myself which was incredible. The duration of my visit fit perfectly with me leaving as the first bus of Japanese tourists arrived.

Tzistarakis Mosque
Tzistarakis Mosque

I also walked a fair bit around the tourist hell called Plaka, where every tiny pretty house has a souvenir shop with prices that reach Mount Olympus. Only the Gods can afford what is on offer here.

With fellow travellers at my lodgings, I had a great time during the evening, meeting new people and enjoying a beer before bed. I met a really great English guy working in the reception, who was travelling while working. I really envy those who dare to travel without any real destination working along the way while getting to know the culture and society of where they are. . Not like the rest of us, who only get to scratch the surface of a place before leaving for the next.