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Athens Guide, by Grethe Bredenkamp

My passport was recently stolen. Normally this would be a bit of a pain, but in this instance it was particularly stressful. Because it was stolen just over a month before I am due to leave for a trip to Athens. It was a mad scramble to apply for a new one (R800 later) but thankfully it arrived today, with 27 days to spare and enough time to apply for a Schengen visa.

I’m finally allowing myself some time to get excited about the fact that Keenan and I will be taking off for Athens in 27 days! I’m heading to the TBEX conference which takes place in Athens, so we’ll be spending just under a week in the city before heading off to Santorini.

If you regularly read this blog I think you’ll know by now that I am a firm believer in finding travel inspiration online. The discovery of Grethe Bredenkamp’s Instagram feed (@grettals_b) came at the perfect time.

I absolutely loved following her journey around Greece with her parents and taking notes of the places she visited and shared. She did a great job of documenting her trip and sharing some tips for travellers heading to Athens and beyond.

I asked her to send me a couple of highlights and tips via email and she provided me with an awesome comprehensive guide to Athens. Here are Grethe’s tips for anyone heading to this beautiful city.

SITES

1. Try get the Hop On Hop Off bus the morning you arrive. It’s the best way to see the city and all the sites. We caught the yellow one because it’s the cheapest (12 Euro). The ticket is valid for 48 hours and runs from 9am-4:30pm. It’s super efficient and really easy to use. You’ll find stops all over and you can buy a ticket on the bus.

2. If you haven’t booked accommodation yet then try get a place either in Plaka or near the Acropolis. These are the most popular areas and 80% of the sites are in walking distance.

3. Go to the Acropolis first thing in the morning, gates open at 8am in summer and 8:30am in winter. It’s get busy very quickly, mostly with huge tour groups so taking a decent photo becomes a bit problematic. To the left of the Acropolis is a hill that overlooks the greater Athens. I’d suggest you wake up early, grab a coffee, watch the sunrise there and then head over to the Acropolis. It’s a great place to just sit and be.

4. The taxi’s from the airport have a flat rate of 35 Euro. We wrote down the address along with our hosts number and were totally fine, otherwise your hotel can organise you a transfer. There is a really cheap bus that runs into town, but we had no clue where we needed to get off so we didn’t use it.

5. You must go see the Archaeological Museum, it’s fascinating seeing all this old stuff and the New Acropolis Museum which is about 500m from the Acropolis.

6. Zeus Temple and Palace Gates are also cool and they are right next to each other at the end of Plaka’s main street. Depending on which site you go to either Zeus or Acropolis buy an Archaeological pass so you can enter both sites, you end up saving about 12 Euros.

7. The First Olympic Stadium.

8. There’s a great pedestrian walk way from the Acropolis to Plaka as well as in and around Plaka. There are tons of restaurants to choose from in that districts and it does get a little over whelming, but we ate cheaply for two meals and splashed out for dinner. If you’re self catering there’s a great fish and meat market along the route that the Hop On bus runs. We bought loads of seafood for next to nothing. There’s also a fresh produce market across the road.

THINGS TO EAT AND DRINK

Frozen Yoghurt
Ice Coffee with frozen yoghurt
Baklava (there’s stacks of shops that sell little treats and so many variations)
Chocolate pudding (its a brownie on steroids)
Milk tart (it’s just flipping delicious)
Greek Salad (Obvious)
Goats or Feta Cheese Saganaki (Fried cheese in phyllo drizzled with honey)
Fried Zucchini or Eggplant
MOUSSAKA
Fried squid
Any and all lamb dishes
Pita and Tzitiki (typical starter dish)
Slouvaki is a great cheap and filing meal and there are stacks of family run street restaurants off the track that are amazing. If you see Greeks eating there then you know its good.
I mostly just asked the waiters what they would eat or did a little look on trip advisor for peoples recommendation of certain places. I get food envy quite quickly so I like to be a little prepared:)
If you want to treat yourself to a special meal, I’d try book at Strofi or Attica. They both have roof top terraces overlooking the Pantheon on the Acropolis. You definitely have to book for the terrace so I’d book now if you’re considering it.
Coffee: we ordered a double machiato with hot milk which they all seemed to do well.
And then there’s Ouzo…if you can stomach it.

SHOPPING

1. Plaka had loads of shops and boutiques and definitely get some leather sandals.
2. And tell people you are from Cape Town, they love us!
3. You’ll get the hang of the city pretty quickly because everything happens in one area so it’s easy to navigate.

Thanks Grethe for sharing all your advice with me! Anyone out there got any tips for Athens or Santorini?

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One comment

  1. So envious – Greece is awesome!
    You don’t really need to pre-book accommodation on the islands. When you get off the ferry there are loads of hustlers who want to offer you space to stay at their establishments, so you can negotiate a good price (and aircon). Just do some research first so you know whereabouts on the island you want to stay (probably near Fira on Santorini).
    When we went to Santorini we booked a boat tour which took us out to the volcano, and then came into dock at Oia where you have no doubt heard about the famous sunset. Its totally cheesy as everyone applauds after the sun goes down, but it is quite beautiful. You climb the steep, steep steps (watch out for donkeys barreling down), walk around the little village square and pick up some beer and olives, then find yourself a spot to watch the sun set. Its an awesome little town.
    On the other side of the island to Oia they have black volcanic beaches, which are pretty cool too.