Was I lucky enough to live in Athens for a short time and for me to return? always an immense pleasure.
To a distracted visitor, Athens will seem? a city? ugly, nothing to do with splendid Rome. In fact, the error pi? great than who approaches Athens? think of finding the Greek version of the capital of Italy ... But to a careful traveler, who knows how to explore and enter the soul of the city? where it is located, Athens will enter? in the heart, with its calm and its intense traffic, with its passion for coffee? and its cinnamon smell, with the new embracing the old, with the crisis closing the shops but never the smiles of the people.
When my former colleague wrote to me to tell me she was getting married and baptizing her baby in Patras, the idea of extending my stay in Greece by stopping in Athens? was immediate.
We leave Rome Cimapino at dawn to reach the Athens airport in the early morning. From here, the express bus takes us downtown to Syntagma square in less than an hour. We stop for a coffee? in a bar in via Ermu and then, passing through Monastiraki and via Athens, we reach Omonia where our hotel is located. Omonia has a reputation for being a slum area, but 90% of downtown hotels are located here, from international chains to local guesthouses. We take possession of our room and go out for a walk downtown. From Monastiraki we see Adriano's library and walk towards Thissio where we stop to have lunch with an ice cream and then continue climbing towards the acropolis. Along the Odeon we walk towards the Acropolis museum and stop for a frapp ?, a cold drink similar to our coffee? shaken. From here we continue until we return to Syntagma square and, after seeing the fascinating changing of the guard of the unknown soldier, we enter the National Gardens. The national gardens of Athens are a riot of nature that hides a playground equipped for children of different ages, in which we lose a couple of hours. We go out and head to Plaka, the tourist heart of the city? but not only. Here, in a side street that goes up towards Anafiotika, there is a Greek inn not yet stormed by the tourist crowd and with a few euros, we have dinner.
We return to the hotel on foot, crossing in complete tranquility? Omonia square at night.
Having lived in Athens, I am far from the usual sightseeing and visiting monuments, although I admit that I walk around the city? carrying a pocket map with me. So, we decide to dedicate the second day to the sea. We reach Neo Faliro in about 40 minutes using the tram to Voula which starts from Syntagma square and we stop at the equipped beach of a hotel, where with € 10,00 we take an umbrella for the whole day. We spend a serene day on the beach, enjoying the excellent service of the bar which, without surcharge, serves us directly at the umbrella and playing with the sand and the waves. Upon returning, before taking the tram, we stop at the playground overlooking the sea, where we spend a good hour.
Back in the city, we take the blue metro to Keramikos and go to dinner in a place that prepares excellent souvlaki. The kindness of the Greek restaurant staff? amazing: the waiter warns us that we are ordering too many things and that it would be a waste, both of money and of food!
The Gazi area offers night clubs and entertainment of all kinds, but traveling with a small child we decide to return to the hotel after dinner.
We also opt for a peaceful day at the beach today! We reach Voula and stop at a bathhouse which for € 5,00 offers us an umbrella in the front row with bar service. We spend the day walking on the beach and taking a bath and halfway through? afternoon we return to the center. From Syntagma square we walk towards Accademia and from here we enter Exarchia. The anarchist area of the city, full of busy social centers, where contraband cigarettes are still sold and the air smells of marijuana. After wandering a bit 'of stairways and alleys, we decide to reach Psirr? through non-touristy streets and we stop to eat fish in an inn. Generous portions and ridiculous prices.
After dinner, with the baby asleep in the stroller, we walk to Keramikos and then return by subway to Omonia.
From Omonia we reach the port of Pirreo using the green metro (the journey takes about half an hour). Here we take the ferry to Eghina and spend the day on the island. Less than 5 minutes walk from the port is the beach column, aim? devoid of any equipment. But the sea it reserves is worthwhile. Nowhere me? never happened to be able to see fish swimming in front of me 20 meters from the shore!
We return in the late afternoon and stop for dinner in Plaka in a tourist restaurant.
We leave in the morning from Omonia and reach the airport where we rent a car and then head to Patras. Travel not? very short but made easy by the new highway. We arrive in Patras in the afternoon and stop at the hotel to change and go to the wedding-baptism, fortunately in an apolistic Catholic church (the Greek-Orthodox rites are very long compared to the Roman ones).
After the wedding, we move for the party to a village about half an hour from Patras, where we enjoy a wonderful scenery: in this area of the Peloponnese the Ionian Sea looks like a fjord and the sunset lights make everything even more so. suggestive.
In the morning we decide to return to Athens, as in the evening we will have had the return flight. The summer heat pushes us not to visit Patras or Corinth but to reach Glyfada for a last swim in the Aegean sea. From there, a few minutes drive takes us to the airport for our return flight to Rome.