I’ve always been a major history lover, and one thing I greatly appreciate about travel is the opportunity to connect with other from the past. Although I had been to Greece before, I hadn’t visit the capital of Athens and seen the wonders that had been described to me in textbooks. My boyfriend and I decided to check it out this summer, and we walked around the city, astonished at the chance to experience history the way it was meant to be viewed.
It was also incredibly hot. We had been willing to go in the summer because we were entitled to some excellent deals not only on airfare, but also on hostels. Most aren’t willing to head to the heat of Athens in the summer, when the stone burns and you find yourself gulping water like you will never see it again. (Fortunately, the price of water is regulated—it costs the same everywhere you go, even in the busiest tourist spots.)
It took only a few minutes before I was sweating, but we were ambitious. We bought a ticket to see all of the surrounding sights on the acropolis. Working our way up to the Parthenon, we stopped by libraries, walked through the forum where meetings were conducted in both Ancient Greek and Roman times, and began the hike up the huge hill where we would get a glimpse of one of the most iconic structures from the past.
Sweating some more and downing our water bottles as quickly as possible, we trudged up the steps to get to the top of the hill. At some point, the modern, cement steps gave way to more ancient ones made of marble. There were dips and you could see where people from thousands of years had stopped to admire this unworldly temple just as we did. It was also clear why the Athenians had picked this location to build their tribute to the goddess Athena—you could see the entirety of the city from up above.
After making a few friends with a mutual hatred of the heat and taking our time peeking through the giant columns, we journeyed down to the museum at the bottom of the hill. Art history was one of my minors in college, and to see these works up close and personal was an experience I’m not sure to forget any time soon. There is something about seeing history in person that you can’t experience just through a history textbook.
I’m looking forward to visiting again this summer with a new perspective and a new take on the Greek culture after visiting a first time.
What are some of your favorite historic cities?