Falling in Love With Athens
A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to win tickets from the lovely people at Travel Blog Success to a travel blogging conference, nay, THE travel blogging conference....TBEX. I was over the moon when I found out that it was in Athens, which is somewhere I've wanted to go for yonkers.
The conference was absolutely amazing, but I'm not going to talk in detail about that right now because for me, the biggest takeaway message from this trip was how much I loved Athens. From my journey to the amazing Athens Backpackers Hostel, where so many lovely people helped me find my way to the fantastic food and beautiful scenery, I'm sold.
It's no secret that Greece has suffered considerably, both financially and socially over the past few years but honestly, there is little trace in the resilience of the amazing locals and beauty of every little alleyway. I was pretty spoiled for choice on picture opportunities to be honest, especially as my hostel was about 2 minutes walk to both the metro and the Acropolis (which is as good as you'd imagine).
I was in Athens for 5 days, but almost all of them were taken up with the conference so I didn't get a chance to explore in depth but even so, what I did see and more importantly, eat, was epic. In all seriousness, the economic crisis in Greece really was devastating to tourism, which accounts for over 15% (approx) of GDP, so with tourism inexplicably down (Greece is epic people), these are the reasons I think you should visit Athens NOW:
- By European standards, it is a really affordable choice. My hostel was clean, comfy and had fantastic WiFi. I paid a reduced rate (thanks TBEX & Athens Backpackers!), however the standard rate for a 4 bed mixed dorm (single bed, not bunks) with a shared bathroom is €21 which believe me, is cheap for such a centrally located place. Getting good food is also really affordable - Christina, Jess and I had the most amazing lunch on our last day for €6 apiece.
- The architecture is breathtaking. And I'm not just talking about the obvious sites here. Obviously, the Parthenon is incredible but I found just as much beauty in the surronding streets. Wandering around, getting lost and finding cute little cafes with amazing views was a regular occurence.
- Greek people are beyond friendly! I knew this already, as I've been before, but I think i'd forgotten! They are so amazingly hospitable and gracious, you can't help but have a good time. The resilience of Greece post crisis is without question down to the strength of their people. Meeting the amazing Maria of MaryHop cemented this, and she has become one of my favourite people in the world!
- You will never eat better food. Oh EM Gee......the food is insanely good and if you don't believe me, check out Jessica's post on gaining weight in Greece. Being half Arabic, I am well aware of the comparisons between Greek and Egyptan food and have pretty much been brought up on baklava, flat bread, rice and mousakka so Athens was my culinary heaven. I'm not kidding guys, I reached my foodie nirvana.
Have you been to Greece? What do you think? Have I tempted you?