Athens, and the end of the road

*Post was written on my trip and posted retroactively – and late on account of bad wifi, a cold and oweek, apologies!”*

So, as previously mentioned, I wasn’t feeling exactly 100% when I dragged my bags down our steep hill to the coach in Athens.  The lack of nighttime cold meds was really starting to kill me, as I found that when I took too deep of a breath I coughed, limiting the sleep I got to critically low amounts.  I did catch a few z’s again on the 2 hour ferry ride back to the mainland, which helped, and the coach that came and got us from the ferry terminal was really roomy with more leg room, so that was another added bonus.

The drive to Athens from the terminal was also another plus – it was about 5 hours and super pretty, with gorgeous landscape after gorgeous landscape.

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We had two stops on our drive to Athens – one in a cute little Greek village I had no hope of being able to spell or remember, and another at the Corinth Canal.  The stop at the town was nice, as we got lunch there, where we had chicken gyros and fries that were fantastic, and only 2 euro because of a Contiki deal.  The town had a nice view off the water:

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But the highlight of that stop for us was definitely the sea turtle we spotted by the shore:

IMG_1054We decided to call him Fred 😉

After that it was back on the bus for a few more hours to the Corinth Canal, which is apparently the second deepest natural crevasse after the Grand Canyon.

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As advertised, it is in fact a long, giant hole in the ground, which also offers bungee jumping if you are a thrill seeker who finds themselves looking at a trip to Greece 😉

We then hunkered down for the rest of our drive and arrived in Athens so we could go to our last group dinner.  The hotel we were staying in was around the Acropolis area of the city, and although I have no faults with the hotel, the city was a bit…rough.  It really didn’t feel safe walking around Athens, even in a group, and even our tour guide mentioned all the graffiti that is a recent result of their troubled economy.  The restaurant we went to was in a nice enough area, by the base of the Acropolis:

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But the walk to get there was a bit unsettling, and adding in the heat and my cold, I was a bit out of it once I got to the restaurant.  The food and the entertainment were both good – dancing and singing – but I guess my “I feel kind of dizzy face” was confused by the singer and the dancers as not having a good time, because the signer made me get up and dance with her as she sang and so did the dancers, which did not help said dizziness!  Thankfully no one managed to get a good picture of my shame, so I’m content to let that one be forgotten!

The next morning – after another ‘lite’ sleep night – we had our tour of the city by bus with an Athenian guide, and our walking tour of the Acropolis.  I was kind of dying of the heat/sickness at that point, but I felt like I couldn’t not go to Athens and see the Parthenon, so I gave it all I had left and climbed up!  Honestly, the climb wasn’t that bad, and given how sick I was feeling that is saying something, though I should note that you want to bring water to the Acropolis because they only allow water inside – at the risk of staining the marble – and yet only sell frozen lemonade outside, not water, that you can’t bring in.

Greek logic is…complicated, I guess 😉

But my trek was worth it, because I did make it to the top and got to enjoy the great view of the city:

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A temple and flag of Greece:

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And, of course, the main event – the Parthenon:

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We also had a good view of the Temple of Hera:

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After the Acropolis tour – where you can bet I got one of those frozen lemonades! – we got back on the bus and went to our final stop, the Panathenaic Stadium which was the sight of the first modern olympic games in 1896 and is made of marble:

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After that our Contiki tour was officially over, and so while some people headed right our for flights to home or more overseas travel, I’d booked an extra night in Athens so I took a nap, and then had dinner on the 12 storey high rooftop bar with the rest of my group that was hanging around, which had another beautiful view of the city:

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After that I was perfectly happy to say goodbye to all of my wonderful group, and get some sleep in my giant hotel bed – whee, single rooms such a treat! – and get in for the airport the next day so I could make my way home to my dad’s for a week of rest in Toronto.

That calm was disturbed a bit after the hour wait to drop off my bag – word to the traveler, the Air Canada kiosk at the Athens airport is beyond dysfunctional – but security was mercifully brief, and I got to my gate with plenty of time to spare.  10 hours trapped on a plane later where I slept, read two books, daydreamed about being able to stretch my legs, and then got so bored I played with the crying baby in the seat ahead of me for an hour – seat peekaboo and finger dancing are apparently two skills I didn’t know I had 😉 – I was finally in Toronto with my dad and sister, and that was the end of the trip for me.

Overall, I had a fantastic trip. I’m not sure if I’d ever go back to Athens again – I was expecting a city like Rome, with all it’s historic sites and ruins, and it just wasn’t that, and combined with the unsafe vibe, I don’t think it’ll be a return priority for me.  That said, I’m so glad I did it – all of it, cold and all.  I revisited cities I loved like London and Paris, visited cities I never expected to love so much like Barcelona, and of course cities I knew I’d love like Venice and Rome.  I’d love to do another trip to Spain and Barcelona, and to Italy and the rest of it’s countryside, though the latter certainly not until 2017 when the Trevi fountain is finally clean!

Final verdict for my trip was definitely an A (no cold and it would have gotten an A+ 😉 ).  It only made we want to travel more, and I’m already setting my eyes on taking my mom to Santorini for March break, and taking my self to Japan, China and maybe even Scandinavia (Contike has a tour through Finland, Norway, the fjords, Sweden, Denmark and Germany that looks amazing!) on my second year summer break.  Obviously, I’m considering another Contiki again – I really like the convenience of having accommodations planned, but also having free time, and getting to meet people my own age from other countries is really great too.

I’ll just make sure I take enough tylenol night and day cold meds to medicate a small village next time! 😉

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