Landing in Athens I felt hot, sticky and slightly sad that I had left the Greek Islands behind. I really bonded with the blissful sandy island life, and know that I will return one day soon. It seemed a travesty to fly out from Athens and leave it unexplored; so this was my mission in only a few days, I am pleased to report it was mission accomplished… in more ways than one!
I made my way with my heavy backpack on the train towards my new Airbnb address. I wore my slightly ridiculous blue straw trilby hat, a remnant from a crazy hat party with my new Norwegian friends from Naxos island. We got right into party mood and had needed hats to go with our raging good moods!
My new and final abode was in the home of a graphic designer. A modern home with nice marble tiles everywhere, and loads of impressive paintings on all the walls. Very inspiring actually, it made me want to take out the paints and get creative! Anastasia was a lovely lady, regardless of our language barrier we managed to exchange a fair amount about ourselves, and this is what a good cultural exchanging Airbnb experience is all about.
I rested for a few hours then made my way to a local restaurant for a good greek meal of greek salad and pork souvlaki. I was getting really used to that combination! I sat in a quiet garden restaurant, with only mosquitos keeping me company. Apparently Greeks go out to eat anytime after 9pm onwards, so it was more like I was having afternoon tea.
The next day I was determined to make a full day of it. The sun was up early and scorching, getting used to sweaty sauna like conditions I soldiered on. Onto the train and into the centre part of Athens, I began to explore the sites. Now let’s make this clear, I am a bad tourist. I generally do not like to go where most tourists like to go. And I plan poorly too! I like to simply go towards what looks good for me on the day, talk to people, and discover as I go. Kind of like a choose your own adventure story, where you get the chance to change tracks at every chapter, and you never know how the story will end. Well this is precisely what my day was like, and I was loving it.
I stumbled across the central markets, wandering in and out of stores, keen to buy a few little things to remember Greece. After some time exploring I came across a leather bag store and soon was engaged in a good conversation with the shop owner, a friendly greek man. We chatted for ages, talking about life; he told me his favourite island was Mylos, even though he never been there, for him this was the paradise island. Adonios was a colourful man, he had plans to write a book but insisted no one would believe the wonderful stories he could tell. He showed me some old photos from his past, when he was very handsome in his flared 70’s pants, apparently he was quite the catch, I could see why! We talked and talked, and it was great. This is why I travel, to engage in meaningful conversation with new people, to learn, to discover and to understand people from different places. At the end of the conversation he invited me to go fishing with him that night. The offer was delightful; I would have said yes, except I already had a date lined up. Yes, you read right. More on that later…
After more walking and exploring, I made my way to a coffee shop for my frappe, iced cold coffee with this whizzed up froth, only in Greece! There I chatted to the waiter asking for suggestions on activities. I was already over the city, I wanted to get back to the islands! A wild idea occurred to me, I could get back to Piraeus the port and slip right out to an island close by for a few hours! The waiter brought me to my senses, he suggested I go to the local beach instead, brilliant idea! So this was my new mission, get to the water and cool off!
I made my way to the hop on hop off bus of Athens, seeing they circled the city and made a route along the coastline. While waiting for the bus I meet a Colombian lady and an American lady, who lived in Sweden. They had met in Malaysia years ago and had stayed in touch and were traveling in Athens together. Their teenage boys trailed along too, keeping themselves occupied with their phones and each others company. I tagged along with them for awhile and even jumped off the bus to join them at the Acropolis Museum.
I zoomed around pretty quick, admiring the ancient relics, for the 245th time, there really was a lot of old stuff in Greece! In speedy gonzales mode, I power walked around all floors in about 7 minutes. I was ready for the beach! I want sea water!! I want my clothes off! I want sunshine! So off I went, solo again and this time ready to stick to the plan.
After realising the hop on hop off bus had another hour before its beach route, I took a local tram to the coast. After what felt like 3 hours finally we were travelling along the coastline. It was recommended to go as far along the coast as possible for the cleanest water. Okay, I had made it this far, I might as well see what is at the end of the line.
Much to my delight I hear American accents behind me just before the tram was coming to the final station. We introduce ourselves and decide quickly to join and go to the beach all together, perfect! This lovely couple had been living in Athens for over a year and had been really enjoying themselves so far. We walked to just the spot we liked, and with only a little bit of embarrassment I jumped into the sea in my underwear! Things you do on holidays right? Undies are actually not much different from a swimsuit, but the racey lacies were a bad choice for the day…
Satisfied and refreshed from my swim it was time to make my mad dash back to Athens, back to my apartment, freshen up and get ready for my hot date! Dates are rare in my life, the man versions any way, so I was really looking forward to some good company for my last night of my trip.
We meet for drinks first, immediately connecting and talking and smiling and laughing. A good start! We then go for Japanese, which felt strange to be eating sushi after so much Greek food, but it was really good for a change. Conversation continued to flow and I discovered this Canadian man was very interesting, engaging, hilarious and a very dedicated business entrepreneur. The night ended well with more drinks and an invitation to continue. Sure why not? My trip had reached its end, but wow, didn’t it end well!?
The next morning I packed up and had my final breakfast while chatting to my host Anastasia. My time in Greece had really gone fast, just like every country. I had loved every single minute of it, and I know I will be back to explore more of that blue and white awesomeness.
Once at the airport, all stress had completely left me. With my bags loaded onto the plane, I knew their final destination would be Perth. There was no more navigating, no more maps, no more trying to figure out where to go any longer. And this was a very sad thing!!! I knew exactly where I was going. But did I?
Travelling really shakes you up, it makes you question everything. It breaks you out of all your familiar routines and forces new ones on you. Constant changes of scenery, people, weather, food, airports, landscapes, this is what a traveller craves, and this is what I love. Satisfied for the time being, it was time to get back into Perth life again and back to normality. Urgh, reality can be harsh!!
Thank you so much for following my journey around the globe on this 6 week trip. I have thoroughly enjoyed all the places I have seen; countries including England, Scotland, Latvia, Finland and Greece. It was lovely to see my old friends around the globe again and make new friends too! I hope to see you all again and stay connected.