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BONK abroad: Athens



Athens, named after the goddess Athena, is the oldest capital city in Europe. Mythology states, that the city was named after a contest between the goddess of war, and Poseidon, god of the sea. Poseidon stuck his trident into the Acropolis, and it sprung out salt water, which the people couldn't drink, although it remained a symbol of naval power; Athena stuck the ground and created an olive tree, a symbol of peace and prosperity. It has been defined as the birthplace of Western democracy, with a rich hellenistic history with 5th Century BC monuments standing proudly throughout the city.


The capital city is also home to a rich contemporary culture, through performances, art and music, with metal and rock being a popular choice amongst Greeks, presumably through the pagan and hellenistic mythology. Alongside the pagan religions, Christianity is the reigning religion, and shown through an array of churches, shrines and iconography you are available to see and immerse yourself in. Athens is also home to a rich gastronomical scene, in which you can not only find traditional Greek dishes, but also lots of international restaurants, and yes, of course, vegans too!


Aside from seeing the Acropolis and Agora, and paying a visit to the Archaeology museum and art galleries - which are a must do, of course- there are an array of other interesting parts of Athens to explore. Here we have decided to collate some of the activities, sights, bars, restaurants and the like to really make sure you find your kooky groove on holiday:





MURALS AND GRAFFITI WALKS


As stated previously, there are plenty of striking visual to be greeted by in the city, and not just the ancient ones! Athens is full to the brim of graffiti and murals, especially around the historical centre. This is due to the rise in youth underemployment, apparent unrest, and lots of densely packed buildings in the city, which has given rise to spare walls telling the stories and politics of Athens. It helps shed some light on the reality of life there past tourism, and is worth taking note of as you walk through the city.





HALL OF HORRORs & little kook


Athens Hall of Horrors is a live scare attraction in which you are immersed in 2 floors of scary scenery and get to meet the creatures that lay inside. Tickets for these are 12 euros, and you can also visit the horror themed cafe for coffee and ice cream before or after your trip inside.


Little Kook is a themed fairytale cafe, with alternating themes throughout the seasons. We went in January, an were definitely surprised to find a street lavishly decorated in Christmas lights, candy canes and people in elves costumes. Through some more research, we found that through summer it became an Alice in Wonderland theme, and of course, best of all, a fully decked out Halloween extravaganza in October. ( We'll be sure to be going then next time!)





SEE A GIG AT THE ROCK AND METAL VENUES


Athens is home to a variety of metal and rock venues, whether you're looking for a chilled drink in the bar, or see live bands perform. January is a bit quiet in terms of gigs, and unfortunately we didn't get to stay long enough to see one, however you're not short of options:


  • Rainbow Metal Club

  • Rezin Rock and Metal Cafe Bar

  • Kyttaro

  • Intrepid Fox

  • Fuzz Club






Remember fashion athens


This is a walk in art exhibition, and once you're at the top you're met with a variety of bold and daring, handmade and vintage clothing. "Since 1978 we design unique pieces with Avant Garde aesthetics for people with special personality and unique style". Remember fashion has gained visits from a variety of creatives, having a catalogue in which features artists, such as; Sex Pistols, Lemy, Slayer, Iron Maiden, Nick Cave, Lana Del Rey and a hundreds more!


This is definitely worth a visit to rummage through bondage wear, band shirts, hand knitted and painted items, and vintage jewellery. Some other shops selling alternative clothing are; FULL MOON, Top Man and Monsterville. Your vintage shops include kilo-shop, Rennaisance, Zensofel, and the Concept store Art & Industry






hike to the holy monestery of kaisarini


About a 1 hour hike away from the university building is the Kaisarini monastery, a byzantine church which you can visit inside, and the accompanying gardens. You can also visit the Church of the Ascension nearby, as well as the Asteriou Monastery of the Taxiarchs if you're feeling especially active. It's a perfect way to immerse yourself in nature, and get out the way of noise pollution.


For other noise pollution get aways, you can also visit Pynx Hill, which has treasures such as "The Prison of Socrates" and "Deaf man's cave" for you to explore as you take a quiet stroll. Looking for botanicals? Then there Athens has it's own National Gardens within walking distance of the historical centre.






Visit the first cemetery of athens


For the more gothic of the audience, you can also visit the cemetery of Athens, in which hosts an array of detailed tombstones and architecture, some nearing almost 200 years old and featuring some of Greece's most influential figures.






See a performance in an ancient theatre


The Odeon of Herodes Atticus and Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus are two theatres from the 2nd and 4th Centuries respectively which are still in use today to host operas and live theatre performances. This is within the Summer months when it is warm enough on an evening from June to September, with scheduled performances being found online for the Athens and Epidaurus Festival 2024.







cat sightseeing


The number of stray cats in Greece are well known, and can be seen around the restaurants looking for food, or the ancient ruin sites, as they're usually caged off and safer at night. Some of these cats have gained enough notoriety to be pinned as attractions on Google maps. These stars are 'Flora the singing cat', 'The Goliat Cat' and 'Titan the chonky Cat'. A lot of tourists recommend buying cat food and feeding them, especially Titan.


Unfortunately, we could not find them on our last day, but we headed over to the Roman Forum where another group of cats like to hang out.






BAMBOO VEGAN & OTHERS


Since a lot of the readers are vegetarian and vegan, not just me, it makes sense to share our favourite spots with you to make sure you're never out of scran's reach. Greece is full of vegan options; felafel, stuffed vine leaves, stuffed peppers and tomatoes, plenty of salads, and vegan moussaka options. Athens if also full to the brim of of vegan eateries and options, on par with the UK.


Bamboo Vegan easily topped that list, with its homemade sandwiches and sweet treats. It is also full of flyers for the next hardcore and metal gigs, zines from the Athenian youth, and also has a small selection of herbal goods. Other notable vegan stops include:


  • Vegan Beat Athens

  • Nudie Foodie Psiri

  • Anana Coffee & Food

  • Mama Tierra

  • Felafelo Street food

  • Plan(e)t Ice Cream

  • Happy Blender

  • The Vegan Vandal

  • Veganaki


And that's only a quarter of whats available!



Nevertheless, Athens is full of vibrant culture wherever you look, and you are guaranteed to find something up your street in this city. What struck us most what how colourful and decorated it was, and we were grateful to have lots of eating options when we arrived, and access to those quiet and peaceful areas within a walking distance. Athens can very easily become quiet within a matter of streets, with most of the noice from traffic. The Athenians couldn't have been more welcoming, and I would recommend learning a couple words in Greek, especially for if you're taking the Metro to places and also just to say hi!


(We would also recommend going to the Acropolis first thing in the morning, on your first day while you're still catching up with the 2 hour time difference. This got us photos in front of the Acropolis without anyone in it, and we could walk uphill to the sunrise).



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