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Hayley Travels

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GREECE | Sunday, 31 July 2016 | Views [374]

It's goodbye Southern Europe and hello Northern Europe! With the exception of returning to Barcelona in a few weeks, I finished up my time in the south with Rome, Naples, and Athens.

ROME

Rome is a cool city, no doubt, but if I'm being honest, I was kind of...underwhelmed, I guess. It's a huge city and there's a ton of history, which is awesome, but again, in the spirit of honesty, I was kind of bored. I was there three full days and really did not need all that time. BUT with all that being said, I am glad that I went because I saw some amazing things.

Throughout my blog posts I've offered y'all several pieces of advice and I am sure I will continue to do so. However, if you are only going to follow two pieces of my advice, let it be what I'm about to say. First, do NOT go to Rome during the summer, especially July, if you can help it. It's in the nineties pretty much everyday, it's humid, and there's almost no breeze or shade, plus there are thousands of tourists crammed together. It is not pleasant. Second, although it is possible, do NOT try to see all of Rome's famous landmarks in one day. Your legs and feet will hate you. I'm not speaking from experience or anything...or maybe I am

I spent ten hours during my last day sightseeing. I walked over 18,000 steps that day. I saw the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, a small glimpse of the Vatican, Piazza di Spagna, Piazza del Popolo, and Piazza Navona. The only thing I didn't see was the Pantheon and that was mostly because I simply could not find it. Not for lack of trying, however. But eventually I gave up because it was getting late and my legs and feet were aching.

In many cities in Europe you'll see hop on/hop off bus tours. Basically you pay for a period of time of your choice and they have stops by the major attractions. I was never willing to spend the money on one but decided to try it in Rome. One more piece of advice: don't waste your money. Instead of paying 21€ for a 24-hour bus pass, pay 7€ for a 24-hour metro pass. The metro is kind of dirty but it will take you to basically all of the major attractions and there are more of them.

Overall, I enjoyed my time in Rome, but not nearly as much as I thought I would.


NAPLES

Oh man, where do I begin with Naples? Naples differs drastically from Northern Italy (not so much from Rome but from Florence, Venice, etc.). The north is very cosmopolitan, stylish, expensive, and artistic. Naples is more laid back, historic, cheap, and electric.

I've stayed in a lot of hostels during my time in Europe. Some of them have been good, some have been just okay, and some I would not recommend. But until Naples, there weren't any that I would seriously recommend. I loved my hostel in Naples and if anyone is ever traveling there I would seriously recommend it. It is called 6 Small Rooms and is located right off Via Toledo. The amenities themselves are okay, but the real draw is the atmosphere. Hostels can really make or break your experience in a city, and atmosphere is one of the biggest contributors, especially if you're traveling alone, like me. If a hostel doesn't have a common/living area, it can be hard to meet people and be social. At 6 Small Rooms, basically everyone spends their free time in the living are or kitchen and because of that I met a ton of awesome, interesting people. The hostel is run mostly by people in their twenties who either live at the hostel or nearby and when they're not working, a lot of times they'll take guests out into the city. For instance, one night a bunch of us hiked up this huge hill to a castle go see Naples at dusk. Then we all hung out, getting to know each other and just having fun. Two of the nights one of their frequent guests cooked dinner for everybody.

I did do more things then just hang out at the hostel, however. The first day I went to the National Archaeology Museum and walked along Via Toledo, the main shopping district in Naples. To be honest, as much as I love archaeology museums, I was pretty underwhelmed by the one in Naples. It had some cool and interesting displays but it was not worth the price. The second day I walked around near city center and the waterfront. I do recommend doing that. It's not far from Via Toledo and has beautiful architecture and gorgeous views of the coast. My last day I went to Pompeii. I was really incredible. It's so much bigger and better preserved than I had imagined. If you go to Pompeii (which was, incredibly, cheaper than the National Archaeology Museum) do not forget to bring water! It gets really hot and there is very little shade. There are fountains throughout the complex with drinkable water to refill your water bottles. Plan on spending most of the day there because the complex is huge.

No matter what you see while in Naples, you must do one thing: eat pizza. Naples is the birthplace of pizza and it's obvious. If you want Naples style pizza there are only three things on it: mozzarella, tomato sauce, and basil (margherita). It's absolutely delicious and crazy cheap. I don't think I ever paid more than 5€ for a whole pizza. Oh yeah, that's the other thing, you get a whole pizza for yourself. Seriously, do yourself a favor and eat as much pizza as you can.


ATHENS

My stay in Athens had a bit of a rough start. I got up on my last day in Naples and took a bus to Bari, which is a city on Italy's eastern coast. I went to check in for my ferry, only to find out that there had been a mixup in the booking process and I didn't have a seat reserved. Luckily they still had seats available and I could buy one right there. Then I had to wait three hours for boarding to begin and another three hours for the ferry to depart. Hindsight being 20/20, I would have splurged and booked a cabin. But, since I'm on a budget I just booked a seat in the air seat gallery which is just a room with aircraft style seats. That wasn't a big deal in the evening when I was reading a book or walking around the ship, but it was highly uncomfortable to sleep there (the ferry ride was fifteen hours long). Then we got to Patras, Greece around midday the next day and I had to take another bus, this time to Athens. By the time I got to my hostel in Athens, I had basically been traveling for the better part of two days.

But once I got to Athens it was amazing. I had really cool roommates and I stayed in another great hostel. It was a five minute walk to the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum. There were two locations, both within about three minutes of each other. My location had a sports bar and restaurant and the other location had a rooftop bar with views of the Acropolis.

I was only in Athens a couple of days, so most of what I did was Acropolis related. Unlike in Rome where I did not go inside the Colosseum or Roman Forum (because I could see so much of it from the outside without having to deal with thousands of other tourists), I did go into the Acropolis. It's seriously amazing. There is some construction on the Pantheon but that doesn't make it any less amazing. On top of the gorgeous architecture and fascinating history of the Acropolis, it also offers stupendous views of the city.

While I was in Athens, I tried three staples: gyros, yogurt, and ouzo. If you're in Athens you have to try a gyro. There are different types of meat to choose from, but the most common are chicken and lamb. I had chicken. It's a pita filled with meat, lettuce, tomato, onion, French fries, and tzatzaki sauce which is a cucumber-yogurt sauce. Gyros are delicious and filling and super cheap (I paid just over 2€ for mine). You also must try yogurt. I don't know about y'all, but there's something about the texture of Greek yogurt sold in stores in the States that I cannot get on board with. But the yogurt I had there was incredible. I tried a sample at the yogurt shop and then got a smoothie made from it along with pineapple, mango, and local honey. I would take a hard pass on ouzo. It's disgusting. It is a licorice flavored liquor that is on every single menu you will find in Athens. Do. Not. Try it.


Now I'm on to Northern Europe. I've loved my time in the south, but I'm ready for more moderate temperatures!

 

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