I decided to make only one post for Greece because we only visited two cities and one of them was only for half a day. I loved Greece. The weather was perfect, the people were so friendly, the food was DELICIOUS. Oh my goodness, Greek food is amazing, I was so happy. Also, at this point in the trip everyone was unbelievably tired so we were all taking it easy and slow, which made Greece seem even better, haha.
First stop was Thessaloniki. Before booking a flight there, I had never heard of this place. Apparently it’s the cultural capital of Greece or something like that? I don’t know, it’s got a lot of music and art, I guess. Unfortunately, we only had a little bit of time there because we had an early flight to Athens the next day. But, that was fine. It was good to have a relaxing day to recoup.
The hostel was really great, but it was up a hill and kind of hard to find. However, like I said, Greeks are friendly and an older man who didn’t speak a word of English came up to us to try and help. At one point he opened to a map of Europe in book he had and pointed at it when we weren’t understanding that he wanted to help us. He called over some younger people who may or may not have been his family and asked them to help us and they pointed us in the right direction – a good first impression! At the hostel they gave us free juice and a recommendation for a good restaurant, but we couldn’t find it and ate at another one instead, which was still good because they gave us free dessert! Like I said, I loved Greece. Also, tap water was free! Yay!!!
Feta with olive oil and oregano – the most important thing that happened in Thessaloniki
Fun fact about Greece (Thessaloniki in particular): there are stray dogs and cats everywhere. They bombarded us at dinner because we were sitting outside. They kept going under the table and a dog kept booping my leg with his nose, it was pretty hilarious actually. After dinner we wandered down to the harbor and sat for a bit and then went back to the hostel and went to bed literally while it was still light out. Like I said, we were tired, haha!
We left the hostel early in the morning to catch flight number 3 to Athens. The hostel there was pretty easy to find and was relatively close to everything we needed to get to. What’s nice about Athens is that besides the Parthenon, the city is pretty flat so walking’s not that bad.
We dropped our stuff off and headed pretty much straight to the Acropolis, trying to get most of the historic stuff done of the first day so we could chill on the last day of vacation. We stopped at a little restaurant to get some cheap gyros (which were amazing) and we got MORE free food! Yay, I love Greece! Another nice thing about Greece: student discounts count for students outside the EU, which is something that Italy does not seem to be a fan of. So, our tickets for all the ruins and stuff were not expensive at all considering it got us into everything.
First was Hadrian’s Library and then the Roman Agora. After that it was pretty much a straight shot uphill to the Acropolis. Some friendly locals directed us in the right direction when we almost turned the wrong way (without us even having to ask) so that was cool. At the top we saw the Parthenon and Dionysus’ Theatre, though we couldn’t get into the theatre, oh well.
Rear of the Parthenon
The Parthenon was covered in scaffolding in the front, but the back was nice and clear which was good. The sky was so blue which looked so pretty against the white marble. The views were also very nice. After looking around at the top, we made our way down to Zeus’ temple, stopping for greek yogurt along the way – I got a smoothie!
After the temple we split into groups and I went with the people who went to the Acropolis museum. I got in for free since I’m an international student, yay! By the time we left it was starting to rain and we went back to the hostel. We got a little lost, but we stopped to get souvlaki gyros on the way, which were very interesting, and helped a woman with her moped. We got back to the hostel very hungry, but not that tired, which was great!
The second day in Athens and last day in Greece/on spring break was very chill. We had basically done all the historic things and spent the day around all the markets at the foot of the Acropolis. They were really nice, they had a big open antique area, but also more modern stuff. The vendors weren’t as aggressive as Italian ones which was cool too.
We stopped into the Ancient Agora at about midday which was extensive and more like a park than ruins. They really let natural plant life just grow, which I really liked – it was very serene.
We tried to get to the harbor, but the closest metro stop was closed, so we just got dinner and pastries to go and went back to the hostel, which was great. At that’s basically it! It seems a lot more compact in these posts. One thing I really liked about Greece and Athens in general was that it seemed more authentic (if that’s even the word I’m looking for). Not that Italy was fake, but we went to very touristy cities and I remember just being very aware that I’m probably eating at touristy restaurants and going into touristy shops. I’m not saying that we completely avoided that in Greece, but besides the stuff right near the Acropolis, a lot of the shops and restaurants felt like places locals might go eat (we went into a bakery that had signs only in Greek, for example). I don’t know, maybe they’re just more subtle, haha.
Overall, spring break was amazing. I knocked off three bucket list places in the course of one week! I ate amazing food and saw amazing sites and everything went nearly without a hitch, which was such a relief! I’m very happy to be back in Bath now and relaxing, but I’m so grateful for this experience.