Not only was this my first day in Athens, it was the first day of my seven week journey. I had slept one hour in 32 hours.
In retrospect, beginning in Athens was obvious. While I had two different countries I knew I was going to visit, I was overwhelmed with routes and possibilities. I had quit my full-time job, so I was obsessed with finding the cheapest flights. That’s where Norwegian came in. Norwegian has a soft spot in my heart because it was the airline I took to return to Europe for the first time in 18 years. In this case I scoured the route map the right price point.
I booked a flight to Gatwick Airport in London, an airport I previously flew to and felt confident in navigating a transfer with limited sleep. I landed at midnight, London time. My flight to Athens via Easyjet was at 6am. I was surprised that transfer flights with Easyjet require additional security. I hold a European Union passport, so I normally “swipe” into countries part of the union as if I were entering a subway station. Which was mind-blowing when I landed at Oslo Airport in 2017, my last trip to Europe being 4 years before Poland had joined the European Union.
The view of Greece from the airplane in the morning light was one of the most ethereal things I’ve ever seen.
I instantly fell in love with Greece and understood what was meant by the “mediterranean light” just walking through the airport. The surrounding mountains made the Athens Airport one of the most scenic rides to the city.
Maybe it was the long travel, but I had some trouble locating the public transportation at the airport. It’s a decent walk outside past the bus lanes and parking, and a row of escalators will take you to the metro platform. I learned my first lesson after purchasing the wrong ticket: just ask an employee. While all the metro tickets look the same, the price from the airport to the city is 10 euro. An employee who checked tickets on board held a wad of cash and a credit card machine, presumably to charge you for a ticket, but it’s best to avoid the possibility of paying a violation fee for boarding a train without the correct ticket. (Looking at you, Warsaw.)
I felt horrible from the lack of sleep. I napped for what felt like blinking my eyes, leading to one hour of sleep in 32 hours. At around 3pm, I made a deal with myself to walk around Athens for three miles. I was also hungry, the first of many days where I learned to ignore hunger. As always, I took some of my favorite photographs on my airplane travel day. I don’t like to plan my walks, and my style of navigation is to turn on streets that will make for a good photograph, whether it be content or the light. The three mile pact turned into a voluntarily six mile walk up to Philopappos Hill.