As much as I love travelling solo, I have been fortunate enough to have a slew of opportunities to travel with friends and loved ones over the last couple of years. In fact, It has been almost four years since my last solo travel adventure in Berlin.
When invited to explore the food in Athens, I tacked on a few extra days past ‘work’ to explore the city on my own.
It came with high highs and low lows.
I had been warned by a few locals to take extra safety precautions when walking around on my own and – as an experienced traveller – I took them with a grain of salt. Perhaps to my own dismay. Within the first two minutes after leaving my apartment on my first day of solo exploration, I was followed, harassed, and grabbed by a man trying to hit on me in a mix of Greek and English cat-calls. I did what I always do (ignore them, don’t make eye contact, look strong and charge ahead) but it seemed to only escalate the situation in this case.
I managed to sprint away. But probably should have thrown a roundhouse kick towards his face and/or genitals.
This, of course, didn’t (and couldn’t) put me off solo travel. I enjoyed the city, adventures and my own company immensely.
Later that evening I met back up with Johanna (from the previous blog) to check out a few of the more fantastical local bars, the best of which – The Clumsies – wouldn’t feel out of place alongside any of Soho’s best. The owner, Vasilis Kyritsis, has created a bar as sexy as they come; a red-tinted cavern of cocktails, couples, girl gangs and – at certain times of the day – some truly delicious nibbles. Absolutely everything is made in-house and there is even a balcony-adjacent hideaway in a secret lair upstairs for parties, events, and extra personalised service.
Don’t leave without trying the #ClumsyNegroni – the old school favourite reinvented with their own ‘Old Tom’ gin, house blend vermouth, Campari, beeswax, and pepper.
After recovering from the prior evening’s fun, I set off to celebrate my final day with a luxurious jaunt throughout the InterContinental Athens. As a massive fan of the hotel group, I thought I would meet up with an industry friend of a friend at the hotel for lunch after a little bit of a pampering in their spa.
The latter was supreme. So much so I almost blissfully missed my lunch reservations. I indulged in the ‘Magical Monoi’ – a massage blend of 1001 Monoi flowers (the self-healing powder releases thousands of microscopic bubbles to ease tension in the body) and honey to moisturise – before sipping some tea in the relaxation area (and, to be honest, considering booking into the hotel for another week or two of pure relaxation).
Food won out, as per usual, so I unrobed and headed upstairs to Cafezoe for one of the best meals throughout my entire foodie adventures in Athens. Like all Intercontinental restaurants, Cafezoe sources everything locally to create a refined menu of local favourites. A bit of greek salad, traditional “sioufikta” (a rich pasta with beef & cream cheese) and panfried ravioli?? – washed down with a perfectly balanced bottle of Asirtiko (Moderne Trilogie Greek Wine Cellar’s PGI Sterea Ellada, to be exact).
Having accidentally chatted our way straight through a potential hike up to the Acropolis, my dining companion and I took a quick ride to Le Greche for some of the most unusual and delicious gelato outside of Italy (flavours include aperol and ricotta) before one final pre-airport stop…
The stunning rooftop bar at A for Athens offers, without a doubt, the best view of the Acropolis from anywhere in the city. When you visit, you must ask for Thodoris (the head bartender) and let him take your tastebuds on an accolade-worthy journey like no other. Almost literally. His current ‘Time Machine’ menu is inspired by the evolution of the cocktail (four major changes in four major cocktail capitals), is curated to perfection, and – having had a sneak peek into his next menu – seems to only be the starting line for one of the most promising bartenders in Europe.
But you’ll see all of that in the vlog…
Tips for solo female travel in Athens (and beyond):
– Familiarise yourself with local emergency numbers.
– If you’re walking, stick to main roads and know your route before you leave. At night, use Uber. It is safe and significantly cheaper than local “tourist” fares (I asked local taxis for quotes on two separate occasions and they were both over 4x more expensive than Uber’s quote). The code uberlela will also get you a discount on your first ride!
– Carry a battery pack. If you use your phone for safety, Maps, Uber, etc – you don’t want it dying on you.
– Be careful about showing your ‘wealth’. I didn’t take my camera out unless I was eating or in a location that I felt particularly safe. I also carried my bag on shoulder farthest from the road (there have been many cases of bags been stolen from scooters/bikes as they drive past).
– Stay positive! Athens is a beautiful place with wonderful people, but is currently in a period of loss and struggle. It’s nothing a little common sense and preparation can’t handle.