My last day in Athens was sadly spent solo, and what remained was to hit up the rest of the tourist sights and do everything left on the list. First up, however, was to get a couple of boxes of that amazing baklava from our first full day. Gesturing again like a mad woman inside the pan-pastry bakery, speaking in English slowly but receiving only Greek replies, I left with about a kilogram of sugary treats in my bag and probably a couple of cavities in my teeth. I attempted to wait for the sun to creep our behind the thick white clouds, the weather having dramatically changed toward the end of the holiday, so I found a nearby cafe and sat outside with an iced coffee and a few pieces of ice-cream baklava. The Chelsea Hotel was the cafe I visited, located just opposite the bakery on a street corner. Inside, there’s a bar, serving up hot drinks in the day and cocktails in the evening, being clearly a great hit with local young people and professionals. Although the name may sound fancy as heck, the inside was hip and youthful, almost English rock-n-roll in style. With every coffee, which is crazy delicious by the way, you also get a tiny dish of homemade shortbread cookies – I can’t recommend this place enough.
The baklava shop, funnily with a dentist right above.
I gave up on waiting for the sun, so I walked the same way as we did on Saturday and decided to surrender 5 euros and enter the Panathenaic Stadium, which in the end was actually worth it. I walked up and down the steep stone stairs and seats, making my way around the Olympic arch-style structure. On the running track, I saw people running cheesy sprints, pretending to be ancient Greek athletes, racing toward victory. Underneath the stadium is also a small museum/gallery, featuring decades worth of Olympic posters, medals and various other artefacts.
Next to the stadium is the National Garden, which we only briefly visited the first time, so I took a slow walk through and around the gardens, breathing in the clean air and enjoying the beautiful trees and plants and tiny pools of water. Walking through and out back on to the main road, I then visited the famous Syntagma Square which is the central square of Athens which looks out onto the Old Royal Palace. The square leads to the busy main roads of Athens and leads back round to Monastiraki and the main shopping area of the city. I walked through, stopping to sample traditional Greek sesame seed bread which is sold everyone in small carts and in various styles. Nibbling at my bread, I decided to visit Monastariki square once again before I hopped on the metro to visit Mount Lycabettus.
Lycabettus Hill is the highest point in Athens, standing 277 meters above sea level but being about a 20-minute walk up from the base – longer if you visit in Summer as I did… make sure you take a couple of bottle of water and some suncream on the way. The winding paths up the mountain are lined with cacti and unusual looking plants and trees, looking almost desert like. Once you reach the top, it’s nothing short of a stunning view, the Acropolis being the main point of interest on the horizon, the Aegean sea being visible further on.
On the viewing platform is a beautiful tiny white-stuccoed chapel of St. George, inside being lit only by candlelight. I was desperate to climb this hill and see the beautiful view at twilight, just before sunset, but the weather let me down unfortunately and time was of the essence, my flight being in only a matter of hours. But alas, I breathed in the last of Athens, enjoying the 360 view and last of the hot sun before making my way back down the hill, which was a lot less strenuous than the journey to the top.
Enjoying one last gyros on my balcony before heading home.
Yamas to Athens!