At Patras harbour, all the backpackers followed each other in a line from the port to the train station to get to Athens.
When Sarah and I arrived in Athens, we headed to Syntagma Square to meet John who was the brother of a friend of mine from Australia. He lived in an apartment block on the top floor in a busy street where we would be staying while we were here. John knew a lot of people in the neighbourhood as he taught English in a nearby university.
On our first day we headed to the Acropolis of course. We climbed to the top of Mars Rock to catch the sun beautifully casting a shadow over the city. The Parthenon was under scaffolding and the Erechtheum had replica statues because the real ones were getting damaged by pollution. It was easy to see the layout of the Theatre of Dionysus and the Temple of Zeus from up here and it was a nice feeling to be on top of the city.
Heading back down, we went through the ruins of the Agora- the ancient commercial centre-to the markets of Athens old town in Plaka. We saw the bizarrely small Panaghia Kapnikarea church surrounded by the office blocks of modern Athens.
We visited the National Gardens behind the Parliament Houses which had tall palm trees, lots of winding paths and cats and dogs everywhere.
When John came home we went to meet one of his students Dimitri in a crowded pub with good music and a lively atmosphere. We all drank lots of ouzo and then headed to a house music nightclub.
The following day, we went to the original modern Olympic stadium (first used in 1896) and ate chicken souvlaki for lunch in Plaka.
That night, I saw on MTV that Michael Hutchence died at age 37 in a hotel in Rose Bay- police were still investigating the cause of death.
John drove us to Likavitos summit- the highest mountain in Athens that rises up out of the middle of the concrete buildings. We got a great view of the stadium, the Acropolis and the rest of the city by night. We went on a long drive to the beach lined with bars and coffee shops. It must be packed here in summer and totally different place.
The following morning it was raining, so Sarah and I decided it was time to move on. We took the overnight train to Alexandroupoli on the Turkish border. From there, we got the train to Istanbul in a carriage with Nat from Atlanta and Laurano from Argentina.
Related posts: Italy, 1997, Part 2: Bella Italia, Italy, 1997, Part 1: From Rome to Florence, Spain, 1997, Part 2: Beyond Barcelona, Spain, 1997, Part 1: Barcelona, France, 1997, Part 2: The South of France, France, 1997, Part 1: Paris, Belgium, 1997, Holland, 1997, England, 1997, I first started travelling, By special request, Home is where you make it, I first started writing