When arriving in Athens on a Lufthansa flight in September 1995, the smog hung over the city like a big cloud. But you could make out the Acropolis. The airport was right at the sea so the view was fantastic. After our arrival we took a bus into the city centre and went to look for a cheap hotel. The hotel was so cheap that nobody could speak English and the bed was far too soft so the night was absolutely terrible. In the afternoon we had visited the Acropolis which offers a great view over the city (entrance fee 1000 drachmas) and the old town called Pláka.
On Tuesday, 5th September,
we took a taxi to the car rental agency which wasn't so easy to find. We
had booked a car from Germany for one week. Finally we set off north towards
the famous Metéora monasteries. Driving in the chaotic traffic of
Athens was horror, so we were relieved when we got out of the city. It
was a long drive up to Tríkala and Kalambáka (about
The following morning we almost didn't get to see the monasteries as the road of access was blocked due to a strike! The only way to get up now was to share a taxi with several people and eventually we managed to get one. It was a shame we couldn't stop where we wanted as the scenery was breathtaking. But at least we didn't come in vain. It's amazing how the monks lived up there as the monasteries are built on top of steep pinnacles of rock up to 600 m high. There used to be 24 monasteries. Only 7 of them remain today and 5 are still inhabited. The taxi dropped us off at the monastery Ágios Stefanos which we visited (entrance fee is 400 drachmas). Afterwards we started to walk back down but we found someone to take us along to our car. Then we returned back south towards Delphi which was quite a long drive again. The camp site 3.5 km from Delphi had a swimming pool and offered a beautiful view over Itéa bay.
The archaeological site of Delphi which we visited the following day was very interesting. People used to come here for its famous oracle. From the amphitheatre you have a nice view over the valley. We had lunch in the town of Delphi at a restaurant with a great view over the bay of Itéa where we enjoyed a quick bath in the sea later on. Then we took the ferry to the Peloponessos. We spent the night at a camp site near Pátras.
On Friday, 8th September, we visited the ruins of the ancient fortress Mycanae and the Treasury of Atreus, a grave resembling a beehive which you can enter. Finally we arrived in the pretty town of Náfplio, the former capital, and climbed the 1000 steps up to the fortress Palamídi. Very tiring in the heat, but the view over the town and out to the sea was well worth it. The entrance for German students was free. This was often the case in Greece, or at least there was a discount. All you needed was an International Student Card. We stayed at the Nicolas II Beach camp site close to the old part of Epídavros (Paléa Epídavros), 18 km from the ancient theatre.
The following morning we visited the amphitheatre of Epídavros which is very well preserved and the town of Paléa Epídavros. In the afternoon we spent some time at the beach of the camp site. In the evening we went to a local restaurant right next to the camp site. The cuisine was superb, not at all touristy and even inexpensive. There was no menu and the dishes changed every day. To avoid making a mistake we stuck to something we knew like Moussaka. Besides the restaurant was right at the sea so you could watch the sunset, very romantic!
On 10th September we made a little tour of the coast south of Epídavros down to Ermióni and spent some time at the beach again.
The day afterwards we crossed the Isthmus Canal at Corinth which separates the Peloponessos from the mainland and arrived at Piraeus, the port of Athens. We lost our way to the centre and were glad to find a Hertz agency where we could leave the car without trying to make our way back through the horrendous traffic. For the last two nights we found a cheap hotel in Piraeus which was a bit better than the first one.
On our last day we took the ferry (962 drachmas) to the island of Aegina. There we only stayed in the port town which was quite nice. After our return we visited some more of Athens (there's a train connection from Pireaus), namely the University and the Parliament in front of which is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier guarded by two Evzones dressed in traditional uniforms.
The weather in September
was still very hot, but not too hot to go visiting. We tried the varieties
of Greek food. Often it was cheaper to take a menu than pay for everything
extra. I was surprised though that the portions were much smaller than
what we are used to at Greek restaurants in Germany which are known for
their abundance. And one curiosity was: you should never throw toilet paper
into the toilet bowl as it will clog the canalisation!