Would you purposely schedule an overnight layover in a foreign city just to get a glimpse of one of your long-standing bucket list destinations? Hell yes!
En route back to Athens from a glorious 8 days hiking on the island of Crete and a spontaneous 2 days in Santorini, I arrived into a deserted airport around 10pm. Prearranging for a driver is a must when dealing with after hours arrivals and I was off to find my hostel for the night. Hostels are not very common in America, but I really only needed a pad to crash in for a few hours, a reputable & clean spot, a cheaper lodging option and something semi close to the ancient ruins.
I originally booked a four person room for approximately $22 and of course got assigned a top bunk. My roomies were all out so I quickly got settled (the key is repacking the night prior to ease the stress) and actually got offered my own 6 bed room instead. Mmmmm….. yes please!
Odds would have it that I couldn’t sleep, so with 3.5 hours of shut eye, I ventured out into the Athens streets to make the most of my only morning. Ruins and archeological sites adorned almost every corner leading straight uphill for a mere 15 min walk to the majestic Acropolis. I climbed to Areopagus Hill at 7:50am to get my first glimpse of this iconic monument.
It was surreal to be standing in the shadows of ancient gods and structures so important to the Greek culture. And at 8am opening, I had the place all to myself to revel in. Truly a gift.
Restoration efforts were in full force and it was humbling to just sit in silence to imagine day to day life back in the site’s heyday. I’ve experienced a lot of ruins over the past month in Egypt and throughout Greece, but nothing compares to this massive site perched upon the top of the hill overseeing the Greek people far below.
I even got yelled at for setting up my mini tripod to get my own instagram worthy shot perched on the lone limestone block in a field of other rocks. I’m still not sure what I did wrong but I listened to the guide yelling at me in Greek, smiled and went along to explore the rest of the site in peace. (Pic #1 below)
My two hours were up and I backtracked down to the city center along narrow cobblestone stairways, found the metro station only 1 block away from my accommodations, grabbed my 2 book bags and was off to my next adventure!