Athens, Greece: The benefits of long layovers

One of the weirdest travel habits that Tommy and I have picked up this past year is looking for long layovers. It started on our journey from America to Europe, when WOW Airlines (now-bankrupt) had a steal of a deal from Chicago to Germany… with a 17-hour layover in Iceland. We decided to make the best of it and spent our afternoon soaking stress away in the beautiful Blue Lagoon. Ever since then, we’ve kept our eyes peeled for layovers just long enough to squeeze in a top attraction or two! On our way from Romania to Egypt in December 2018, we found another opportunity for a “free” mini-trip – this time to the Parthenon in Athens, Greece.

Our plane arrived mid-afternoon, and after the loooooong customs line we took a quick taxi to our nearby hotel (side note – arrange transportation through your hotel if they are in one of the small airport sea towns rather than Athens itself – our taxi got lost, didn’t want to follow our Google maps, and tried to wayyy overcharge us instead of following the meter. We stayed firm and it worked out, but it was more annoying than it needed to be). After checking in, we immediately hopped on a bus, and then the subway, to get to Athens city center. Our only goal was to get to the Parthenon (on the Acropolis), but we ended up getting just a little lost and found these views along the way:

Between customs/taxi/bus/subway/finding it we arrived shortly before closing time, so we decided that the high ticket prices weren’t worth the amount of time we would have inside. Next time, Athens! However, we did get there at the PERFECT time to enjoy sunset over the city. The spot we were at also happens to have some great views of nearby archaeological sites & beautiful buildings. We had a good time playing “guess what that used to be!”

Once it got dark we stuck around for a while to see it illuminated. Waiting… nearby attractions light up… waiting… Parthenon partially lights up… waiting… finally when we decided that maybe they don’t highlight everything, they powered up the remaining spotlights! Definitely worth hanging around for. We walked around a little bit and got a nice view of the columns closer up. Although we were bummed not to go inside, we were glad that we got to experience the views during golden hour, sunset, and evening. It was absolutely stunning, and made us want to come back even more! We didn’t see anything else in Athens, but we declare sitting on a rock and watching the sky/lights change a must-do for any visitors. 😁 😍

After declaring the Parthenon a success, we headed back down the hill to find some food. Along the way, we got to see a few of the ruins that we had seen from a distance up close!

Our dinner was one of Tommy’s all-time favorite travel meals. (Emily agreed that it was pretty good, but she has other favorites). Basically we got a huge plate of different kinds of meats, some french fries and flatbread, and a few roasted tomatoes. We also ordered a side of saganaki (fried cheese – guess who that was for 😉). Tommy was smart and just ordered a beer, while Emily gambled and lost on something called “ayran” – a frothy, salty, slightly sour, non-alcoholic yogurt drink which apparently is not even Greek (thanks to later research, we have learned that it’s Turkish). It wasn’t bad, but not something I’d order again.

After stuffing ourselves into a food coma, it was time to take the subway & bus back to the hotel for an short night of sleep before our early morning flight – and then we were on to Egypt! I’ll be back in another 10 days with another post from somewhere we’ve been in the last 8 months. Keep an eye out! 👀

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