It’s sunrise in Greece. I throw open the curtains and peer out at the pink sky, excited to start my weekend in Athens. I grab my camera, snap a few photos, and head out to explore the city.
Weekend in Athens
I’m technically here to speak about social media at a conference, so I have to get my sightseeing in early. This is my third trip to Athens in two years, and I saw the main sights on my first trip and covered more ground on my second. It takes the pressure off and allows me to focus this trip on getting to know the less obvious parts of the city.
Plaka and the Environs
I still start my weekend in Athens in Plaka, though. This area beneath the Acropolis is firmly on the beaten path, but it’s one of my favorite places here.
The tangle of narrow streets and stairways always surprises me with a new discovery or view, and as I wander I find doors, facades, and glimpses of the Acropolis.
And that’s to say nothing of cats. This being Greece, there are lots of friendly cats around.
From Plaka I wander out to the National Garden to soak up the purple and yellow flowers. As I meander, the sweet scent of orange blossoms mingles with the sound of birdsong, making me feel like I’m immersed in nature.
It’s deceptive, though, as the streets around me are buzzing with excitement for the Greek Independence Day parade.
People have lined up all around Syntagma Square to watch the military and others march in commemoration of Greece winning its freedom from the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century.
Next to the garden I find the Temple of Olympian Zeus and Panathenaic Stadium. The former is an ancient Greek ruin with tall columns that dominate the field around it.
The latter is an ancient stadium that was refurbished for the first modern Olympics in 1896 and used again in the 2004 Olympics. Built of white marble, it’s impressive to see up close.
After visiting, I head up the road and wander through the side streets in Pangrati.
Colorful cafes like Petite Fleur lend the area a cheerful tone, and there’s lots of wisteria cascading over walls and down facades.
I round corners to find myself face-to-face with tile-roofed Orthodox churches and walk down streets lined with orange and lemon trees heavy with fruit. Everywhere there are purple blossoms brightening up the neighborhood.
Museums in Athens
Not far from Pangrati, I come across the Byzantine and Christian Museum. The gates are open so I pop in and stroll through the garden.
I have the place to myself, and a sense of peace filters through the lavender and Cypress trees. It’s a great spot to stop and rest my legs, not to mention soak up the sun.
Further afield, I get a chance to visit the Vorres Museum in Paiania. This gem is part contemporary art museum, part folk museum, and all gorgeous. The modern spaces are filled with everything from paintings to monumental sculptures. The traditional ones are straight out of a 19th-century Greek home, offering a balance of old and new.
Venues in Athens
My weekend in Athens also takes me to some great restaurants and venues. A highlight is Ble Pavilion, where I spend an evening during my trip. Right on one of the best beaches in the city, this event space has panoramic views of the Aegean Sea. It’s popular with those who like to take advantage of the outdoor terrace and admire the surroundings.
As evening melts into morning, my trip comes full-circle. Another sunrise heralds my departure and it’s time to travel back to London. It’s been a great two days, and I’m glad I’ve had a chance to discover some new-to-me parts of Athens. I like this city more with each visit, and given life keeps bringing me back, I look forward to what my next trip reveals.
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