Spring Break Continuation:
Following Italy, Greece was the second stop on my spring break adventure. Unfortunately, I only had three days to enjoy this beautiful country.
TIP 1: If you want to save money traveling from Italy to Greece, your best option is to fly from Rome to Athens. Our plane ticket was about $33!
Once Grace, Sue, and I arrived in Syntagma Square (center of Athens), we met our Airbnb host, Jim, who showed us the way to our place, which was a cozy little studio in Plaka, one of the main tourist locations in Athens. We were lucky to find a last minute room that was very central and within walking distance from all the sites we wanted to visit.
TIP 2: When in Athens, stay in Plaka.
Day 1: Athens, April 9
I’d like to say that Athens is small enough to complete in one day if you’re organized and on schedule.
TIP 3: Bring your student ID with you and you’ll get reduced tickets (or free tickets) to all the ancient Greek sites.
We first made our way to the Acropolis to see the Theatre of Dionysus and the Parthenon, among other remains of several ancient buildings. This site was filled with ancient and historical archeological stones that were destructed from centuries of existence, yet still incredibly beautiful. We climbed to the very top to see the Parthenon, a former temple that has been around since 447 BC, and is dedicated to Athena, the goddess of wisdom, and crafts.
TIP 4: Wear comfortable shoes. I would like to admit, that I was wrong to wear booties with my outfit when we visited the Acropolis, because of all the walking and steps we had to climb. But to my own defense, they were the only pair of shoes I had with me that would keep we warm (ha ha).
After the Acropolis, we had lunch at Yard Cafe, which had the best Greek food I’ve ever tasted. We ordered three delicious plates to share along with a strawberry cake for desert. I recommend this place to anyone visiting Athens and looking for an authentic Greek restaurant!
We then walked to the Temple of Olympian Zeus, king of the Olympian Gods. The building of the temple started in the 6th century and was finally completed in 2nd century AD, and was considered to be the largest temple in Greece at the time. Out of the original 104 columns, only fifteen of them are still standing today, and a sixteenth column is laying on the ground when it fell over in 1852.
After the Temple of Olympian Zeus, we went to see the Temple of Hephaestus, dedicated to the Greek God of volcanoes and metalworkers. This temple was very well-preserved in comparison to the ones mentioned earlier. Construction for this temple began just two years before the Parthenon in 449 BC, and was the first in Athens to be made out of marble. From the 7th century to 1834, the Temple of Hephaestus served as the Greek Orthodox church of St. George Akamates.
In just one day, we were able to see so many beautiful sites in Athens, and we were ready to leave for Santorini the next day. We had booked an early ferry the next morning, departing from Greece to Santorini. However, because of strong winds and waves, all the ferries to the islands were cancelled. Poseidon (Greek King of the sea) was probably having a bad day. Our Airbnb host, Jim, notified us about the news and went out of his way to help us make alternative travel arrangements, which we were extremely grateful for. Luckily, the ferry company was willing to refund us for the ticket, and we instead booked a flight to Santorini for the next morning. This actually worked out perfectly because 1, we avoided what could have been a very bumpy and nauseating ferry ride, and 2, we had more time to spend in Santorini.
Day 2: Santorini (Thira in Greek), April 10
I remember watching The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants when I was younger and dreaming to one day go to the beautiful Greek island where Lena meets Kostas. Well, I can tell you that the Greek island of Santorini is just as beautiful in person as it was in the movie.
Santorini is stunning from every angle. Our room was in the small town of Oia, the exact location where several scenes from The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants were filmed, and where tourists come to see the typical white and blue painted houses. This was no coincidence. We specifically wanted to spend our only day in Santorini with the picture-perfect view we’ve always imagined. We did not have a specific itinerary for Santorini, so we just decided to walk around Oia and admire the breathtaking views.
The pictures below already say a thousand beautiful words about Santorini.
The last two days of spring break was dedicated to transportation and relaxation. To return back to Athens, we took a 7 hour ferry from Santorini (thankfully wasn’t cancelled), and finally arrived in Athens at around midnight, and flew back to London the next day.
I would like to say that everyone we met in Greece was extremely kind and helpful. Many of the locals went out of their way to guide us to the right direction when we were lost, and also give us some background information about the city. We will never forget our host the first night, Jim, who was a tremendous help in acquainting us with Athens, helping us with our travel arrangements, and driving us to the airport early morning the next day. From Jim, and many of the locals, we learned the Greek secret of Philotimo which means “love to honor.” Philotimo is the highest of Greek virtues, and is essential to a way of life. A person is said to have philotimo by doing good to others and simply performing random acts of kindness.
Please watch this video to better understand this Greek secret.
Spending my spring break in Italy and Greece has been an experience I will never forget. I have always dreamed about what it would be like to go to those countries, and the reality of it surpassed my expectations. I am very happy to have met two amazing girls here at NYU London, Grace and Sue, who have been the best travel buddies anyone could ask for. As mentioned before, we managed to do everything that we had planned to do in both Italy and Greece, with no conflict and only minuscule changes. I hope you have enjoyed reading about my spring break travels as much as I enjoyed sharing them with you. Please feel free to ask me any questions about the trip, as well as share any of your experiences in Italy and/or Greece. Thank you for reading and stay tuned for the next post… Amsterdam!