A Blog post from one of our overseas hosts – Cheryl – on her recent solo travel to host our guests on a Athens City Break –

A is for Athens!

The hip urban sprawl of Athens is not entirely what you would expect when you first arrive in this city of immense cultural layers. If you are like me, you may have envisaged a grand Acropolis amid an up and running Ephesus. If you know me, you know my imagination often gets the better of me, yet I have never been to a place that appeals to my inner storyteller more than Athens does, and it was a treat to Host Friendship Travel’s short break to the city for some solo travel.

As most love affairs do, this one started in the jewellery store! Myself and my solo guests had taken a wrong turn (don’t tell anyone, it is pretty impossible), around the wonderful Acropolis, and wandered straight into a great find, the Ilias Lalaounis Jewellery Museum. This really was a surprise and is well worth visiting. https://whyathens.com/ilias-lalaounis-jewelry-museum

Here, jewellery is by definition an ornament that is worn, and they have displayed pieces from all over the world with great taste. Go – and feel free to bring me back a very expensive souvenir!

Having successfully pretended that ‘I meant to do that’ our next stop was the Acropolis Museum, which is an extremely impressive exhibit. It is a humbling display of ancient artefacts and treasures of great beauty. It is a must-see for any trip to Athens, and something you should do before you actually see the Acropolis itself: visiting the museum gives you a context that you may miss otherwise.

I reckon I am a lucky Host: things generally work out quite well for me and my fellow single travellers and on this occasion, we had timed our trip perfectly to coincide with the Athens Gardens Music festival, which was effortlessly superseded by the very vibrant Pride Festivities in Santygama Square: Pride won out and we couldn’t help but join in on ‘Raining men, Alleluia!’

FT guests on Athens City Break 2

You can walk a lot of this city with great ease. Our chosen hotel, the Athens Cypria is a neat three-star which is well set amid the main shopping street Ermou. We were a ten minute walk from the lively Monastiraki and Plaka areas which are great to get a little lost in!

The Metropolitan Cathedral is on the next street and is well worth viewing on a Sunday morning, but if you are short on time and want a quick run around I would highly recommend a bus tour. Our group decided to take the blue Hop-on-hop-off bus: personally I think they help orientate visitors very quickly.

The Acropolis itself is stunning and accessible each day from 8am to 8pm with the last entry at 7.30pm. I recommend buying a prepaid ticket (currently €30) to give you access to a few of the attractions.

No matter where I go I look for three things: good food, a great bar and… art, so for art with a capital A I’d say do not miss the Benaki Museum. https://www.benaki.gr/index.php?lang=el And after the art, you can enjoy a coffee or beer upstairs on the marble terrace afterward, with a great view of the more affluent area of the city on Vasilissis Sofias Avenue where the Hellenic Parliament sits (do make time for the changing of the guard here: great theatre).

You will not be short of places to explore in Athens, and if you can appreciate the graffitt you will be in for a treat.

This long weekend was rounded off nicely with lunch at a hotel called A is for Athens, whose roof-top terrace is above the hustle and bustle that is Monastiriki and is a great spot for a drink with a view.

FT guests on Athens City Break 1

A is for Athens – B is for Bravo!