The last leg of this trip involved a couple of days in Athens. I’d done my homework and had a list of sites to see. As usual, I was travelling on a budget, but with all the strife I’d heard about in Athens, I also wanted to ensure my personal safety, so I spent a little extra on accommodations. I ended up with a room near the Omonia subway station—big mistake.
The hotel itself was secure and newly renovated. I had a comfortable, spacious room, with a corner balcony—overlooking several abandoned buildings. After settling in, I went in search of dinner, and very quickly decided to get something to go and be back in my room with the door locked before nightfall. Whenever I look around to discover that I’m the only woman in a street full of men (other than the two out-of-their heads female junkies I noticed), I retreat. The second night, a homeless man followed me for three blocks begging for my to-go sandwich. Although this district is considered the heart of downtown, the nights were eerily dark and quiet, other than the odd siren. If I were back in Athens, I’d avoid this neighbourhood and spend even more on accommodations in the touristy area.
The proximity to a subway station did make for easy travel into the old city where I spent a full and very long day walking. I started at the Acropolis, which was hot enough even in the morning that another tourist fainted.
Amazing to wander around so many famous ancient buildings: the Parthenon, the Porch of the Caryatids on the Erechtheion, the Temple of Athena Nike, and the Theatres of Herodes Atticus and Dionysos. I also enjoyed watching local cats being given food and water by people working on the hilltop. The Acropolis was getting very busy by the time I descended late morning.
From there, I wandered through Monastiraki and the Plaka, seeing the Ancient Agora, the Roman Agora, the Tower of the Winds, ancient libraries, and many other ruins. I made it to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in time to witness the tail-end of the changing of the guards. And I ended a very long day of walking at the Temple of Olympian Zeus, just as the sky became heavy with rain.
In the morning, after being told by several people that the graffiti-covered metro I’d ridden in on from the ferry docks wasn’t safe—especially during morning rush hour—I decided to splurge for a cab. Exiting the city, four motorcycle cops tore by on two bikes on their way to break up a protest, flyers blowing across the road in front of us.
©Catherine Jenkins 2018 all rights reserved