Over this past weekend I visited Athens as the guest of Discover Greece – an interactive digital platform for “community building and social media campaigns” related to Greek tourism. I was there as a “Digital Influencer” to attend a “Blogtrotters” workshop alongside a handful of other UK based influencers, a few German counterparts, and some on-the-ground Athenians involved with Discover Greece and tourism in Athens. Yawnsville, right? Not at all!
Beyond the workshopped chin wags and our digitally influential pontifications, there was plenty of epic sightseeing, exuberant merrymaking and even an idyllic day at the beach – all stuff I’d suspect any visitor to Athens would enjoy thoroughly and all stuff that I would be more than happy to recommend.
To be completely honest, Athens wasn’t the most attractive city I had ever seen. As anyone who’s been paying any attention at all to the news over the past few years might expect, it looked a little down on its heels. And by no stretch of imagination did it come close to being as beautiful as any number of other European cities (or even other destinations within Greece) vying for your holiday considerations.
But that’s kinda what I liked about it. Athens’ street art was edgy and ubiquitous. The nightlife was laid back and F-U-N. The centre of town felt like a perfectly safe place to navigate even late at night and with a slight buzz. Cabs were abundant. Everything was considerably less expensive than in London (and most anywhere else in the EU for that matter). Folks were super friendly. And pretty much every Athenian whom I encountered seemed to speak perfect English. I left with the impression that I could spend a long time exploring Athens before ever contemplated moving on. I certainly did not get enough of it this go round and would be keen to return soon.
Of course, it wasn’t just the street life that I loved about Athens. My tour of the Acropolis was the very essence of a bucket-list-cross-off dream. Set loftily above the city, the ancient ruins served as a surreal reminder of the roots of democracy and Western Civilisation – almost always in my periphery engaging with the most current sights before, sometimes in celebration of how far we’ve come in “the West” and other times how much more there is do accomplish with respect to how a 21st century society should be. Actually being there among the ruins though – well, that was an awesome geek out for anyone with even the mildest interest in history.
And then there was the beach. No urban edge, no historic awe – just blue sky and blue sea (and maybe a few beers). Yabanaki Beach on the so called Athens Riviera about 30 minutes or so from the city centre (Saturday morning traffic) was an ideal spot for weekend relaxation.
So, in closing, what exactly is a blogtrotter? After 72 hours of being one, I still have no idea other than to say it was an absolute blast.
Here’s the rundown of the other influential peeps who attended the trip:
- Backpacker Becki
- black dots white spots
- Family Affairs and Other Matters
- Off the Path
- Planet Backpack
- Rosie Scribble
- Travels with Kat
We had a great time together. And despite being a fairly diverse lot with a rather divergent range of interests, we all concluded Athens is ace. Whether on its own as a cheap and cheerful city break or as a pivotal component to an extended Greek vacation, Athens is a wonderful destination and one that I’ll be raving about for awhile.
I’ll get into the particular highlights from my time in Athens in future pieces for this blog and some other outlets to which I contribute. Did you notice how I didn’t even mentioned how amazing the food and drink were or how much I loved my hotel? Just wait.
Until then, have a look at this handy online resource – discovergreece.com – now online in Greek, English, German, Russian and French.
In Athens, I stayed at the super convenient four star Grecotel Pallas Athena and flew hassle free via Heathrow compliments of Aegean Airlines. I would be pleased to do the same again, and I’m happy to recommend both.