Athens – Round One

I arrived in Athens late Tuesday night. I scheduled my pickup from the airport through Welcome. This is similar to a service that I used in Cartagena. They come into the arrivals hall with a sign so you know it’s your ride. My driver was friendly and gave me a hug welcoming to Athens. He grabbed my bags and took me to the car. In the car was a nice clothe bag with their logo and a bottle of water.

He took me straight to Tropical Hotel and I checked in with ease. This last year I would say that I’ve been traveling extensively. During this time I’ve been using Booking.com to secure my hotels. My rule of thumb has been a 7.0 or higher rating and reading the most recent reviews. For the most part the reviews have been accurate and I’m satisfied. The best part is you can sort reviews based on solo travel vs. families. That gives me an idea of how someone like me experienced the accommodation.

The one thing I have learned about European travel is if says the bathroom is small…then it’s smaller. The room was suitable and clean. The best part was the ocean view from the balcony. I also choose this hotel as a landing spot for its proximity to the Port of Pireaus. After a good night’s sleep I headed out Wednesday morning to explore Glyfáda. This was a recommendation from my driver.

Glyfáda is a neighborhood with plenty of shopping and eateries. Somehow I ended up in Mark’s and Spencers purchasing a dress for my photo shoot later that evening. I walked around Glyfáda for a while, capturing a few pictures and trying to figure out how to get a ticket for the tram. I finally found a store that sold the pass. I got on the tram and rode it to the last stop taking in the scenary. The best part of this vacation is time. I have time to explore with no set agenda. I rode until I found an area with plenty of food options. I had fries and a gyro. The taziki sauce was to die for. I got back on the tram and headed to hotel. However, I got on the wrong one and ended up getting off and reserving a Beat (taxi) to take me back.

I got up and dressed myself for a night photo shoot with Michalis. I found him on Airbnb experiences. With everything going on in the world it can be a little scary at times booking excursions and experiences online. However, I did follow him on Instagram @Michalis_m prior to just to vet him and the photos. I met him at the Hellinic Parliament in central Athens. We met prior to the changing of the guards so it was special to see that. Afterwards we started the photo shoot. He even brought a Santa hat to help me get in the spirit. He took a few pictures in front of the parliament and then we strolled over to Syntagma Square.

Michalis is great behind the camera for the simple fact that he makes the person in front of the camera feel comfortable. I’ve always looked at photos and wondered how the photographer was able to get a certain pose, and now I know. The funniest part for me was when he says to look off into space and he takes the pictures. Obviously I’m no model, but I definitely have a different respect for them now. We had a lovely time walking around finding areas with the perfect light or backdrop. Some many different places. In front of flowers, Christmas lights, graffiti, restaurants and Acropolis at night. We walked the winding streets of Athens for two hours taking fancy pictures and it was a little bit of a tour as well.

In the middle of the photo shoot this guy named Bradley started singing, which brought a smile to my face for the perfect picture. He was an odd character by the way. He proceeded to share with me how much he loved black culture, music, etc. Bradley was familiar with Charlotte and Charleston. He even went as far as to tell me he feels African American. I kindly reminded him that he wasn’t. It’s always weird to me when Caucasian people share with you that they want to be African American. Just know this life is not easy, but I would have it no other way.

(Weird and odd Bradley)

Michalis and I continued our hunt for the perfect photos. We wrapped up our evening over food, drinks and shisha overlooking Acropolis. We reviewed the pictures which I thought looked amazing even without editing. I am currently in Santorini, but I will be returning to Athens in a few days to get my sightseeing in along with a ride on the hop on hop off tour.

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