The bus from Sofia brought me into Greece and, after a pit stop in Thessaloniki, I went straight down to Athens where I stayed for two nights (i.e., more than I’d stayed in the previous three countries combined). I spent these nights in the Apollo Hotel which was reasonably priced and only a short subway ride to the city’s main attraction: the hills and temples of (and around) the Acropolis.
Now that I think about it, I may actually have gone from Bulgaria into Greece on Christmas Eve as opposed to Christmas day. Anyway—
After finally getting some rest in a proper bed (and not the Train from Hell as described in my last post), I took the subway in the A.M. to Acropoli station and began to explore. The first place I tried to get into was the Acropolis to see the Parthenon, but the place was closed for Christmas.
It wasn’t a big deal, though, I just had to come back the next day; there was still a lot of Athens to see. Somewhat aimlessly, I wandered southeast to the Arch of Hadrian and followed the road up to Zappio Megaro where there were a bunch of people doing holiday stuff, and tiny horses which now reminds me of Parks and Recreation:
For some reason, after going east of the Acropolis I circled all the way around to the southwest (quite a walk) to the Hill of Muses (Philopappou Hill) and its surrounding woods and whatnot. There, I visited the jail cell where Socrates was supposedly held. Then, I moseyed over to Areopagus Hill. According to myth and Wikipedia, that giant rock was where Ares, the god of war, was tried and acquitted for murder (Halirrhothius raped Ares’ daughter, Alcippe, and Ares killed him for it).
Eventually, I wandered down from the hills to find some food (and alcoholic beverages).
After another restful night at Apollo Hotel, I woke up early to return to the Acropolis. I took some photos of the Odeon of Herodes Atticus on the way.
There was a small fee to get into the Acropolis; it was worth it.
Sometime between all the touristy stuff, I did my laundry at a laundromat located between the Fish Cafe, where I ate one of my meals, and Athens Sports Bar, where I spent one of my evenings drinking with some Englishman (his wife and children had gone to Japan for a funeral; rather than go with them, he went to vacation in Athens).
The next morning, I took a bus to Patras and hopped onto a cruise ship. Since it was so close to Christmas (and cold out), people weren’t looking to go on cruises, so the ship wasn’t anywhere close to capacity. Parts of the vessel were entirely empty and rather eerie (aka fun). I wasn’t looking for a cruise either; I just needed to get back to Western Europe and my Eurail pass gave me passage.
The ship sailed past the home of Odysseus, up the Adrian Sea and left me at Ancona, Italy to fend for myself.
On the way, I watched Hairspray in the ship’s lounge, downed a number of alcoholic drinks, ate some mediocre cafeteria food, and slept in a creepy dorm with about 23 empty bunks all around me.
Arriving in Ancona, I grabbed some food and walked 3.5 kilometers (2.17 miles) to a tiny train station to catch my ride to Paris which would see so much more of my shenanigans than Athens (still, between the ghost ship and the ancient ruins, I think Athens provided decent fuel for writing inspiration).