Athens has been a dream destination of mine for quite a while. I’ve had a love of ancient Greece since I was a kid and my Dad used to read Greek myths to me and my brothers before bed. I even ended up studying it at university, but I have never actually made it to Athens. I did try and make it destination for a family holiday but my Dad said he didn’t like the place. It was too noisy and busy for him. However, I am now happy to inform you that I finally made it.
This year, I didn’t manage to have a summer holiday so planned to go to Iceland with The Flatmate to find the Northern Lights this winter instead. Sadly, however, we realised we couldn’t afford it. Then I was chatting to one of my old university housemates, who had already been to Iceland, who said if we decided to go anywhere else she’d come along. We started comparing destinations that we’d never been to but wanted to go to and Athens popped up. The Flatmate was also up for Athens so we picked a date, found some very reasonable flights and we were ready to go.
Finally, the day of our trip came. After a casual start to the morning, spent watching Friends on my sofa, I headed off to Stanstead airport for my Ryannair flight, meeting The Flatmate and The Uni Friend on my way. Upon arrival, we soon realised that our flight had been delayed by an hour. Of course. Not that we were given any explanation for the reason why. We passed the time by grabbing some dinner and I treated myself to my first Starbucks red cup of the year (a Gingerbread Latte to be precise).
Eventually we were on our plane and on our way. The flight was 3 and a half hours and with the two hour time difference, plus the delay, we landed after 1am to find our driver, Dimitris, waiting for us. Knowing that by the time we landed on Thursday night the metro would have stopped running, we figured we’d splash out on a taxi instead of a bus. That turned out to be an excellent decision since there had been national strikes on public transport that day.
As we drove through Athens, we noticed that the first floor of nearly every building was covered in graffiti. We even spotted a shop window that had been smashed several times. We started to worry what exactly we were going to find in Athens. Of course, we had known about the financial crisis that Greece had been experiencing but we didn’t know exactly what effects it was still having on the city of Athens itself. Finally, our car turned a corner and the graffiti changed into street art and we pulled up outside our hostel, City Circus.
We’d found the City Circus hostel recommended in several places so it seemed like the place to stay for holidaymakers and travels on a budget. The cheapest option for our stay seemed to be an 8-bed mixed dorm but for a few extra £s we could get a 4-bed female dorm.
Now I usually go for the cheapest possible option when booking hostels but the last time I’d done that I’d ended up in a massive dorm room in Venice, where I didn’t sleep for three days because the dude in the bunk next to me snored like nothing I have ever heard before. It was impossible to drown out and it was continuous. The Uni Friend also noted that the last time she had stayed in a big dorm, someone had grabbed her foot in the middle of the night. We figured since we are all working now we could afford the luxury of a smaller room. We also hoped, as there were three of us, we might even get it to ourselves.
We got through check in quickly and made it into our room to find a bed had already been taken. Since it was now after 2am, we tried our hardest to keep quiet and used our phone lights to avoid putting the main light on. Helpfully, our room came with an en-suite bathroom, so we could sort ourselves out in there. We didn’t seem to wake our new roommate.
I got into one of the top bunks to find a incredibly comfy mattress, I could sink into. Sadly however, perhaps because I’m used to a harder, wider mattress, I didn’t sleep a wink. Literally, I must have got 10 minutes at best. The later it got, the more worried I became. I had a 2.5 hour free walking tour in the morning, which would not be pretty if I had no sleep. I’d tried to do that before in Berlin and literally fell asleep standing at one point. This was going to be interesting.