I loved Athens… again

Letter 13

 Returning to Athens a second time (after only 6 weeks), I immediately felt at home. In this letter I will continue to tell about the things I did in this charming city.

The 1st part of this is here.

On the day I returned I had one thing on my agenda. Find food. I wanted to conserve my money for when I flew out to Italy, so I was in search of a supermarket. I might just be stupid, but it took so long to find one! They must not have many food shops in the centre because I looked everywhere! I eventually found one, but I went on a little adventure first. I just headed north of my hostel and walked until I got lost. I ended up finding some lovely areas with stunning architecture, large squares and even some ruins preserved in the centre of a square.

After lying on a beach for 6 weeks I began to miss it quickly. But no worries – Athens has an answer for that! I took the metro down to Elliniko beach with a plan to just relax. The metro is easy to navigate and at the other end you just have to catch a shuttle and get off wherever you want. I was very impressed with the beach considering it was so close to the city. However I went on a Sunday so it was packed. When I arrived at the beach I just walked for a while, following the endless sandy beaches and finding small cafes as well as large hotels on my way. I found a quiet stretch of beach eventually and slept for a while in the shade. It’s a nice break from the city if you have the time.

For my final day in Athens, I actually spent it away from Athens. Although I love the city, I had seen everything and wanted to check out where else I could go. I headed to Pireus, Athens’ port (once again, on the wonderful metro). I liked Pireus. It was very big and quite industrial, but with beautiful mountains as a backdrop. Quite bizarre really. Essentially, I wanted to find out what islands I could visit cheaply in a day, and also how much it is to get to other islands, for future reference. Aegina is one of the closest, and the one I chose to visit. It’s also quite big and with a decent amount to explore in a day. Shamefully, I can’t actually remember how much it was – but I’m almost certain it was 10€ return on the ferry.

When I got to the island I went for a walk, following the coastline. In hindsight I wish I had planned a proper route and walked further. Instead I got a bit afraid I might get lost in the middle of nowhere as I was on my own. I walked for a couple of hours and then headed back through small villages further inland. I actually thought it was a very pretty island and would love to spend a sleepy few days there. When I got back to the main town I stopped for a drink on the harbour, which was horrendously overpriced, but offered a good view. In the town there are some pretty churches and a little further is an archaeological site which is really interesting to visit, but was closed off when I was there. All around the coast are stunning beaches not to be missed. I relaxed for a while on a quiet shaded one I found hiding around the corner from the ruins. I enjoyed my day on Aegina very much and only hope I can visit again and see more of the island. I’m also dying to get to Poros and Spetses at some point as well! I just couldn’t justify the ferry prices for a day trip.

The 6 weeks I spent away from Athens was in Koroni volunteering. I wanted to quickly just mention how I got there and therefore the buses you can take from Athens. To get to Koroni you have to get a bus to Kalamata and then a bus to Koroni (there is one line daily at 7am which goes straight there). The whole trip takes 5-6 hours. Along the way there are loads of stops which have some really interesting things to see, and I wish I had stopped off! If you are staying in Athens for a while, you might want to take a bus trip out of the city. It’s really cheap – 27.50€ – and that’s for the whole 6 hour trip. The journey itself is absolutely stunning as it takes you through the mountains and farmland of mainland Greece. It is so beautiful.

One stop you could consider is Corinth. This is an ancient city with beautiful ruins and also a canal which splits the mainland and technically makes the Peloponnese region an island. You could also stop in Tripoli which is a city surrounded by mountains. It’s these places where you’ll find real Greek life going on around you and there are archaeological sites to visit nearby. Further away you have Kalamata. This is a really lovely city with a lot to offer, and great places nearby. It will take about 5 hours to reach from Athens, and cost 22.50€, but it’s definitely worth visiting if you have a few days or a week to spare. It also has an airport where there are daily flights from Gatwick I believe. From Kalamata the Southern Peloponnese can be reached and this is a truly wonderful underrated place. I will certainly be returning.

This is a letter I wrote about Koroni.

I hope you enjoyed this letter,

From Lou

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