Saturday, 7 April 2018

Welcome Back, Me!

After taking a one-year hiatus, I found myself lusting over the idea of writing. It occurred to me that writing isn’t something that I only enjoy doing, but rather an emotional outlet for me to identify my emotions too.

Exactly one year ago, I went on a 16-day adventure in Europe. For people who know me (really) well, there is no need to explain THAT dream of having a nomadic life. I fell in love with traveling, started a new life, and moved to a different country at the age of 24. Since then I traveled all over Asia, Australia, and some parts of Europe where I met wonderful people and became friends with them right away, without minding our so many differences - the language that we speak, the education we attained, and religion that we believe. I lost count of the endless times when traveling opened my eyes not only to the world, but to myself; those uncountable moments when I didn’t have any other option and only had myself to rely on; not to mention that point in my life when traveling healed the broken me. Can you blame me for wanting to experience more?

I came back from that trip filled with memories which will surely be there for a lifetime. I was completely in awe of the amazing journey I’ve gone through. As usual I found myself wanting more. Without any second thought (except of course from asking Jhem whether I should do it or not - apparently she said I should, although I think I still would even if by any chance she said I shouldn’t), I booked another flight. It would be nice to go and visit Northern Europe this time, that was what I was thinking. Less than a year after my last visit, I was again on the plane bound for Europe. During this trip I have witnessed how big and unique our world is. I visited several beautiful countries and experienced a lot of unforgettable moments - from wandering the streets of Vienna ( thinking about Jesse and Celine), to visiting an Old Cemetery in Hallstatt, to reliving my memories of The Sound of Music in Salzburg, to admiring the view of Prague on top of the Old Town Hall Tower, to walking around the quaint town of Bamberg, to cycling on snow and catching snowflakes in Amsterdam, to beer tasting in Copenhagen, to experiencing reindeer sledding and chasing the Northern Lights in Tromso, to cruising to see the wildest and most beautiful fjords from Oslo to Bergen, and to exploring the Old Town of Stockholm.  I indulged myself in food too - from veal schnitzel, to hot wine, to Trdelnik doughnut ice cream, to pretzels, to bagels, to coffee, to fresh oysters on the street, to das italienische Frühstück, to goat cheese sandwich, to smørrebrød, to danish rum balls, to brown ale, and to reindeer burger. I literally lusted over breads for two weeks. Europe is indeed a foodie’s haven.

It sounded a whole lot of fun and adventure but these are just the highlights, and it wasn't all flawless. I did have some struggles too when I had to endure the overnight bus ride from Bamberg to Amsterdam, when I had to deal with guys who wanted to have a one-night stand (yes, it happens), when it was freezing cold and seemed like no matter how many layers of clothing you wear, nothing will ever make you feel warm. Yes , that was a dilemma at least for me. I came back home and of course, even more eager to see more. Traveling for me is not only an enriching experience. It is not just about hopping from one place to another, or feasting eyes on scenic views, or indulging and eating best dishes gluttonously. It is more about learning from rich cultures of every place I visit, meeting people of different personas, making new friends, and learning to be independent. I haven’t experienced nor seen a lot and I am not even halfway there. But it’s on my list.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

How to Get to Cape Sounion from Athens by Public Transport

I visited the Temple of Poseidon on my own. It was really easy and cheap plus I didn’t have to worry about a given limited time and wandered freely on my own. The sacred temple which is located 70 km south from Athens was totally worth it! Standing in front of the temple which offers great views of the Aegean Sea was just surreal!
I left my apartment at 6:25 am to catch the 6:39 am Metro Line 1 at Monastiraki Station and got off at Victoria Station. I have to say that I really love Google maps because of its reliable and accurate information! From Victoria Station, I walked to the bus station located at Mavromateon St., Areos Park - cor Leoforos Alexandras & 28 Οκτωβριου-Patision Pedion Areos. The travel time from Athens to Cape Sounion was around 2 hours and 30 minutes. I made sure I was at the terminal early to get a seat on the right side of the bus to fully enjoy the beautiful coastal views. I took the first bus which left at 7:05 am. From my experience, it was really difficult to enjoy a view with a crowd that was why I wanted to be there as early as I can, basically to avoid them. I arrived at Cape Sounion at 9:30 am, went straight to the entrance gate, paid the 8 euros admission fee and started to wander around the picturesque temple ground. According to the legend, Cape Sounion is the spot where King of Athens, Aegeus, jumped off the cliff upon learning his son’s death. I sat on a bench for a few minutes while looking at the temple and the Aegean Sea. After feasting my eyes on the lovely view and after taking as much photos and selfies as I can, I went to a café nearby to have a cup of coffee and to admire the temple from afar. The Temple of Poseidon is indeed one of the most spectacular temples in Greece, not only because of its rich ancient Greek history but because of its incredible location too.
I didn’t spend a lot of time in Sounion. At exactly 11:00 am, I was already sitting comfortably on the bus. It was again another long and scenic journey going back to Athens.

How to Get to Cape Sounion from Athens by Public Transport:

  1. Take the Metro going to Victoria Station.
  2. Walk to the bus terminal located at Mavromateon St., Areos Park - cor Leoforos Alexandras & 28 Οκτωβριου-Patision Pedion Areos.
  3. Take the KTEL bus going to Sounion (via coast) (7.50 euros). Read the signs because there are lots of buses at the station. Take note of the buses timetable too! 
  4. Get off at Cape Sounion after approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes.
  5. Enjoy the beautiful views, spend as much time as you want wandering around the temple ground, and have coffee at the cafe nearby while enjoying the view from afar.

Travel tip : If you plan to leave Cape Sounion at 11:00 am, you will be just in time for the changing of guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Athens. Make sure to tell the driver that you want to get off at Syntagma Square in advance though!

For an easier way to travel to Sounion from Athens, book your tour with Welcome Pickups! They provide an easy, friendly, and personal travel experience! Click the link below for more information about the tours they offer in Athens, which includes airport transfers that provides a personalized service throughout your stay!

Book Your Half-Day Athens Sightseeing Tour with Food Tasting

Book Your Day Trip to Cape Sounion from Athens

Happy travels! xxx

Sunday, 14 May 2017

How To Spend Two Days in Athens, Greece

I spent the first two days of my European adventure in Athens, Greece. The plane from Doha arrived in Athens at 12:00 noon, but it took me an hour to get out of the airport because of the long line at the immigration. Apparently, April is a busy time in Athens. As soon as I was done with the immigration formalities, I pulled my luggage and left the airport. I bought a two-way metro ticket for the airport at the train station and travelled for approximately 45 minutes until I arrived at Monastiraki. I walked for another 10 minutes going to my airbnb apartment located at the bustling neighbourhood near Monastiraki Station. My hosts, Evi and George, were waiting and welcomed me warmly as soon as I got to their apartment. I felt home and they were the sweetest!

My first day was spent exploring the city. I leisurely walked and went on a journey through time from my apartment to Monastiraki Square, made a few stops to admire the Tower of Winds and the Agora, ate some gelato, took as much photos as I can, strolled around the charming area of Plaka, climbed up to Acropolis, and watched the sunset from Mars Hills. At the end of the day, I sat at the corner of Greco's Project, ordered a glass of red wine, chicken gyros, fita, and their traditional greek salad, while watching other travellers walked by. My first day went pretty well. It was a tiring day, but I didn't care. I was in Europe!

An inexpensive early morning visit to the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion which is located 80 km away from Athens was totally worth it too! Standing in front of the temple which offers great views of the Aegean Sea and is believed to be a sacred area was just surreal! I was also lucky to have witnessed the changing of guards at the Parliament building when I got back to Athens from Sounion. I spent a few minutes standing in front of the Parliament House to watch lovely kids playing with pigeons, and to give my feet some rest as well. My next stop was The Temple of Olympian Zeus which was completed in 131 AD. The classical architecture was dedicated to Olympian Zeus, the head of of the Olympian Gods. Nearby is the Arch of Hadrian which was built in 132 AD, the gate between the Ancient and the Roman City in Athens. A few minutes walk away from Arch of Adrian is the Panathenaic Stadium, which was constructed in 4th Century BC for the Panathenaic Games.

Athens was really impressive. It is a country filled with rich ancient history! I was a little overwhelmed when I was planning this trip. I wanted to see almost everything but was worried that my two days won't be enough. I am grateful that I was able to see the major historical sites in Athens, even had plenty of time to learn about their culture through food!

Here's the itinerary I prepared for my 2-day adventure in Athens!

Day 1. 

  1. Monastiraki Square
  2. The Agora
  3. Tower of Winds
  4. Plaka Stairs
  5. Acropolis
  6. The Parthenon
  7. Sunset at Mars Hill
Day 2.
  1. Half day Tour from Athens to Cape Sounion
  2. Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens
  3. The Temple of Poseidon
  4. Syntagma Square
  5. Changing of Guards (Tomb of the unknown soldiers)
  6. Temple of Olympian Zeus
  7. Hadrian's Gate
For an easier way to travel to Sounion from Athens, book your tour with Welcome Pickups! They provide an easy, friendly, and personal travel experience! Click the link below for more information about the tours they offer in Athens, which includes airport transfers which provides a personalized service throughout your stay!

And here are some photos I took in Athens!

Ciao for now! Happy travels! xxx