Go to Athens

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Positively Greek / Martin Michalek / HEX Writer

Last year, near the end of March, I took a somewhat unplanned trip to Athens, Greece. I went alone (which is always an ideal way to travel) and stayed for three days. It was absolute bliss.

Greece is where the world begins. To call it Eden would be to cheapen paradise. The food is cheap (a pleasant side effect from an economic collapse) and — if you do it right — the historical sights are free. Here’s what you do:

First, spend all of your money on a great hotel. There’s no reason to spend any money in Athens on any of the sights, and you can eat cheaply enough so your food budget won’t be dented. I myself stayed at the Athens Gate Hotel, which was recently renovated into luxury beyond anything Alexander could have dreamt of. It’s positively modern

and its placement is ideal (the Acropolis is less than 400 feet away). On one side of the hotel, your balcony faces it. On the other side is the Temple of Zeus, which rests in sliced pieces of columns to the east under the sunrise. Each morning I watched the ruins of the temple turn scarlet from the sun, or Apollo’s chariot, if you will, because everything in Greece feels so personified: you start to see their gods.

Another positive of going to Athens: you can’t get lost. Finding the Acropolis is easy because it’s on the largest hill in the city, which is visible from every road. Now, getting in for free: once you get to the Acropolis, tell the help you’re British and ask if there are student prices. I did this six times in Athens at various museums and historic sights, and every time the response was the same: “You’re British? EU citizens get in for free.” Un- like other places in the EU (e.g., The Louvre in Paris,) no one asks for EU ID in Athens, so practice your best English accent before going.

Plan to spend an entire day at the Acropolis. The palace sits completely open, like
a playground (only the Parthenon is roped off). Most else is free to walk on, to touch, and to sit in. There’s the Temple of Dionysus where comedy and tragedy were invented, the Temple of Hephaestus which is now overrun with trees and birds, old Roman bath houses, the agora, beautiful gardens, ancient vineyards, and countless other ruins hidden all over the city’s hills. Escaping the tourists is very easy, too. The place feels something like a dream, or a movie set made into a theme park. You can wander alone on the Hill of Mars where Paul first shouted Christianity to the gentiles, or hide away to write in the theater where Sophocles and Aeschylus first debuted the greatest stage performances in history, or you can take day trips to islands. So make the Kickstarter now, or whatever the kids are doing these days, and fund your trip to Athens.