I am traveling alone again. On Friday, we all got up at 4 AM. My sister and her company to fly back to Poland and I to catch my bus to Athens. They safely landed in Poland way before my bus trip was over. It took over six hours to reach Athens. I spent most of it sleeping. The bus was comfortable an well kept. I paid 60 Euro for a round trip, including a ferry ride from Zankynthos to the main land.
It was a short taxi ride from the bus station to my luxury hotel Athenaum International Athens. The hotel is located within walking distance from all major attractions, but most importantly has all amenities I was missing in my recent accommodations in Zakynthos. My room at Athenaum was upgraded to a suite. I had a king size bed, properly working and quiet air conditioning, and a huge bathroom with a stand up shower (not too popular in Zakynthos). Everything there is very modern and spotless. It is a large hotel; in my opinion, targeting primarily business and conference travelers.
Soon after checking in, I went sightseeing. In general, Athens is not a pretty city, mostly because there are graffiti everywhere. You could see that even freshly painted walls were immediately vandalized. The new architecture has no character and is not well kept. It reminds me of a concrete jungle of Eastern Europe from the communist era.
Of course the main goal of my trip to Athens was to see the Acropolis, of the ancient city of Athens. “Its primary purpose was to provide sacred grounds dedicated to Athena, the city’s matron deity. The Acropolis played host to festivals, cults and historically significant events during the peak of Athens’ power. Today, it serves as an architectural masterpiece and source of national pride: it is the most famous site in Greece, it was a runner up for the New Seven Wonders of the World, and it provides a living monument to the splendor of Greece’s golden age.” (Facts About the Acropolis of Athens -USA Today) There is a lot of restoration going on, but the monument is still impressive. I enjoyed taking pictures of the ruins and views of the city.
My next step was the Plaka neighborhood at the foot of the Acropolis. That was exactly what I was hoping to find in Athens. Narrow streets with their old world charm, dotted with outdoor cafes and shops. I did not care for a shopping part, but the cafes were beautiful. I visited quite a few of them. The area became especially charming at night. I love people watching. My favorite part was sitting among mostly local crowds. It was Friday night so families came out to eat; many of them three or, my guessing, even four generations! There were also young Greek couples on their dates. I observed more than I wanted. There was a lot action, the kind you would not expect to see in public. Well, with the hot climate comes the hot blood! I ended my visit in Plaka watching a live dance show!
I took a taxi back to the hotel. I did not want to walk by myself in the strange city. To top the evening, I went straight to the hotel’s major attraction – a rooftop bar! I was not disappointed! It delivers spectacular views of Acropolis and the city! The bar is expensive but I could not resists to order a drink. I thought, I am in Athens, I am looking at Acropolis, it has to be Ouzo! I had a shot of it in Zakynthos at the local tavern. It was not as bad as I remembered from tasting it years ago. Well, having it again was not the best choice. The anise flavor in this one was way too intense for me. Still, I enjoyed the night while saying good bye to the city which, most likely, I will never visit again.
Next day, I took a bus back to Zakynthos. It was Saturday, the bus was full. Almost all the time, I was exposed to loud political speeches that the driver was listening to. It is a difficult time in Greece, so I am not surprised that he wanted to stay tuned. I just wished, he was not forcing it on everyone on the bus. Even Greek passengers were more preoccupied with their cellular phones than the radio. (It looked to me, that I was the only foreign tourist on the bus.)
The last part of the trip was a ferry ride from Kyllini to Zakynthos. I stayed outside to watch the sunset. There was another person doing exactly the same. It was a young educated man, John, native of Zakynthos. We started to talk and we clicked immediately. We had a long conversation about life in general, religion, Greek food, and his love of Greece and especially his island. Together, we witnessed an incredible sunset over Kyllini. Finding connection like that with a stranger, without help of Ouzo, reminded me why I love to travel.
Arriving back to Zakynthos, even for me, felt like coming back home!