This is part three of my four-part series about my trip to Greece. Check out the previous installments:
My trip to the monasteries was not an easy one. I had to squeeze it into my schedule. However, since Thessaloniki was closer to my accommodations, I decided to shoot that way first in order check out a few sites. I toured the renowned ottoman baths, the Roman Agora, the White Tower of Thessaloniki, and the Pirate Ship Cruise, just to name a few. I also received my permission slip for Mount Athos.
After the tour of Thessaloniki, I headed south towards Athens, where I experienced the worst traffic ever, especially since there aren’t any traffic laws for motorcycles. Seeing that I had already made plans to visit a few other places, I stopped in Delphi on my way to Athens.
The town of Delphi literally hangs alongside the edge of a mountain—a very narrow mountain! Delphi mainly consists of one-way streets with hotels that are quickly booked. Luckily, I was able to find a pretty nice spot to stay for the night. As I watched the sunset, I enjoyed my dinner with local wine and olives that were grown in the valley just below.
An interesting fact that I discovered during my time there was that the modern-day city of Delphi was built exactly on top of the old Delphi site. Once the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) got involved, they moved the native residents a few hundred meters to another site and limited the size and growth of this new village while protecting the new Delphi site with special permits that were now required in order to do anything outside of their original plans. They seriously moved an entire city! Nevertheless, I was able to tour the ruins of Delphi while learning some amazing facts as to why this site was so important. I’d definitely recommend spending a couple of nights there to enjoy the local wine and guided tours.
From Delphi, I headed off to Athens, but along the way I made a stop in Thermopylae, which is where the famous battle of the Hot Gates occurred. This battle took place at a narrow coastal passage in 400 BC between the Spartans and Persians. It was here where roughly 1,000 men surrendered their lives by following soldiers into battle with a common goal of protecting their families. This battle against the greatest of odds was truly amazing and was the very reason I insisted on stopping here. However, I found only a statue of a spartan holding a spear with the engraved words “Come and Get Us.” While this is just me paraphrasing, you get the point. How gangster was this response after being asked to surrender?
I left no brick unturned as far as visiting ancient sites in Athens. It is a very beautiful and popular city swarming with tourists, so consider yourself warned. While there weren’t as many motorcycles in Athens as there were in Thessaloniki, the ones you do come across are a bit troublesome, and that’s even with me doing more walking than driving. Depending on the time of year, I’d advise drinking plenty of water. It can get extremely hot during the summer, and tourist sites aren’t as close in proximity as they seem. There’s also a lot of hiking uphill on marble steps, which can become quite slippery, so be mindful of your footing. To avoid the crowds as much as possible, try to purchase tickets in advance. Also, make an effort to arrive first thing in the morning as soon as sites begin to open so that you have a better chance at taking some amazing pictures without masses of people blocking the view. Don’t forget that the off-season is typically the best time to visit. Trust me, tons of tourists travel to Greece, and there’s no secret why. After loving on Athens for a few days, I headed to the port to purchase tickets to my next stop. It was officially time to start island hopping as I made my way to Turkey.
Read the next post in the Greece series:
Traveling to Greece (Part IV): Island Hopping in Greece
Jonathan Dryer: The Unofficial Traveler.