Travelling solo, a lot of people think it means to travel alone to find yourself. But there is a twist right there. You make so many friends out of stranger along the way; you are not so alone anymore. That is the charm of a solo backpacking trip. However, the daring part comes when you have to travel to another country for a solo trip—adapting to a different climate, view, culture, history and people. It is a plan that takes you through some of the most unplanned roads.
Such was the experience of Nafeesa when she embarked on a solo backpacking trip to Greece. Since the beginning of solo travelling ideology, Nafeesa had wanted to visit Europe. Finally landing on Greece, she managed to secure to visa to her dream place. Greece is known to be at the 4th position with 98% visa approval rate. The history of Greece had always enticed her. Witnessing the magnificence of Athens, breathtaking sunset of Santorini, parties of Mykonos and otherworldly Meteora is one kind of a lifetime experience to have.
Arrival In Athens
An unplanned trip makes for the best trips, especially during a solo trip. Especially for Nafeesa, she wanted to see Greece as it is, exploring the neighbourhood and finding the best of eateries.
An unwelcoming sight of the metro strike made her look for alternatives to head out of the airport. With 6 Euros, she caught a bus to Syntagma Square. Choosing a safe and happening place for her solo trip in Syntagma, she discovered the Athenian life on her very first day.
A Visit To The Athenian Marvel
History has always been a point of interest and Acropolis was a ticket back in time to Ancient Greece. Moreover, Nafeesa recommended spending 5-6 hours to see the site. Its towering pillars from before BC and the history attached to it was truly enlightening. The construction of the temple of Athena on the hill was baffling. Furthermore, Its iconic Doric style pillars and the detailed carvings of the stories of the Olympian gods on its arches, its survival through the eras is fascinating. Nafeesa recommends not going on crowded Sundays if one wanted to explore the place to its best. Taking a lunch break for a gyro, she headed to the Acropolis Museum.
The Acropolis Museum was rather well organised. One could get the imagery of the original story of the place as they walked along, Nafeesa discovered some of the important artefacts from a variety of archaeological locations around Greece from prehistory to late antiquity era. It takes you through civilisations like no other.
For her solo trip, Nafeesa had chosen to stay at Athens Backpackers and hence, chose their tour known to be one of the top-rated ones. Their guide, Andrew, was an Australian guy who was very informative. The tour started Hadrian’s Arch, Temple Of Olympia and went through Zappeion, Olympic Stadium and the national gardens to see the change of guard ceremony at the white house.
Further on, after explaining all the iconic ancient greek places, Andrew took the group to Metropolitan Cathedral. As they were done discovering the enlightening transitions from Ancient Greek to early Christianity, they moved to see the street shops. Moreover, Andrew even explained how to bargain in Athens style. Walking through the streets of Plaka, Nafeesa found some gorgeous street art along the narrow streets. Also, she talked about how each tour of Athens Backpackers takes a different route and gives a different experience. With a lunch of minced lamb in wine leaf and lemon sauce at a family-owned tavern, she continued her solo tour to the Temple of Olympian Zeus.
Reaching half an hour before its closing time, Nafeesa was lucky to get a free entry. The heightened corinthian columns and the magnificence of the arched ruins left her in awe. The next day, the plan was a day tour with 75 Euros to oracle land of mysterious Delhi and Epidaurus.
Tour to Corinth Canal, Nafplop, Epidaurus and Mycenae
The fourth day of her solo trip started with a small stop at the Corinth Canal. It was definitely an idyllic spot for breakfast with a view. Further on, taking a tour into the seaport town of Nafplio was a scenic and refreshing one. This Peloponnese town in Greece is one of the most beautiful and romantic towns with its cobblestone streets against a misty mountainous backdrop. Nafeesa reminisced how if not for the tour, she would have spent two days strolling around the streets or relaxing by the port.
Next stop of the tour was Epidaurus, a small city of ancient Greece on the Argolid Peninsula. It was famous for its classical style of the amphitheatre. For her, it felt like a rift in time. The Theatre of Epidaurus was once used as a therapeutic and religious centre dedicated to Asklepios, God Of Healing, With its impressive ruins and excellent acoustics, it is regarded as one of the best-preserved ancient theatres in Greece.
Moving on, the stop was the Acropolis site of Mycenae. People have continuously inhabited this site since the early neolithic period. It was the first acropolis ever built and though most of the place is in ruins, nothing compared to its spectacularity.
Roman Forum, Ancient Agora, Hadrian’s Library
The fifth day landed on a Sunday making all the attractions free. With a walking distance to one another, Nafeesa walked the way to explore the Roman Forum, Ancient Agora and Hadrian’s Library. The long day of walking across the town to the Kerameikos Cemetry was a satisfying one with frozen yoghurt in hand.
With the day coming to an end, it was the perfect occasion to try the Greek white wine with mousaka and slow-cooked lamb.
Touring the Village of Arachova and Delphi
The ancient times knew Delhi as the naval of the world. It’s the site of the 4th-century temple of Apollo, once home to a legendary oracle. This great mountainous complex stores the remains of sanctuaries of Apollo and Athena Pronaia along with a stadium and theatre. Nafeesa recalled the changing air of Delphi that brought a mysterious calm and peace to her. It was a cloudy affair.
Travel to Kalambaka
Taking the metro the next day to Kalambaka from Athens, she checked into Meteora Central Hostel. With plenty of mountains to hike up in Kalambaka, it was a stunning view of the picturesque town and heaving sunset.
Once in Kalambaka, the solo trip started in Meteora with hiking trails up to the monasteries. The path was secluded yet safe covered with jungles from all sides. The first monastery on the way was Monastery of the Holy trinity followed by Monastery of St Stephen. However, for Nafeesa, it was the serenity of the place that was so magical. She talked about how it wasn’t very popular with tourists, especially during the winters. But the beauty of the place was incomparable! Walking alone in the trail with nobody around was probably the best thing to be done.
With that, she headed to watch the sunset across the town of Kalambaka. Unfortunately for her, the day ended with some clouds and rain. But the path she had taken was unforgettable.
Learning from her previous day’s mistakes, Nafeesa booked a cab to take her up to the Monastery of Great Meteroron. Most monasteries were similar-looking but each with a different kind of silence and peace. Moreover, Nafeesa advised dressing conservatively inside them with a skirt for girls. However, they provide wrap-around for free too.
Heading To Santorini
Nafeesa spent her tenth day to take a road trip on a bus to Santorini through Athens. Booking a stay at the Georgia Studios, she headed to experience the famed sunset of the white cocooned Santorini.
The tour in Santorini started with great excitement to see the beautiful streets in Bollywood movies. Streets after streets led to another beautiful street. However, unfortunately for Nafeesa, the weather was plotting against it. Moreover, there was a strong wind that made her trip twice along with heavy rains.
The first day of Santorini was in Fira. Ignoring the crackling weather, she took a bus to Imerovigli. She recalled, compared to Fira, how beautiful and calm it was. The town was exactly as seen in movies with its white domes and blue contrasts.
Next stop of the solo trip was Santorini’s Oia. Nafeesa accepted that the prices pf accommodations in Oia were a nightmare. However, it was the most picturesque towns she had seen in her life. Moreover, to her luck, the sun replaces the darkening clouds as soon as she had entered. That is when she witnessed the dream-like sunset view above the skyline of the town and the beach. With that, she hopped on to a bus to Fira.
If one were to take flights to islands, the only way was through Athens. However, it was still the cheapest mode of transport. Nafeesa suggests if one were to travel in summer though, then ferries are a regular commute to these islands.
Chania’s old town is the most stunning in Greece. Nafeesa even talked about the Athenians she had met who would say. “Everybody comes to Santorini for a holiday, but Greeks go to Chania for a holiday.”
Nafeesa holds memories of Chania’s people dearest. She talked about the owner of the hotel she stayed at, Julies Studios and how she had felt like an old friend. Furthermore, during her solo trip in Chania, she had met four strangers while watching the sunset. The next thing she knew, they were having coffee together.
Last night at Chania, she had had her special seafood dinner at a restaurant, Apostolis. During that, she had met and spent time with a Greek family. They had spent time humming along with Greek songs, sharing stories and listening to them. Dancing till 3 in the night, she had finally walked back to her hotel without the slightest worry.
Back To India
It was finally an end to her solo backpacking trip. A beautiful country filled with even more beautiful people and past, Greece had a special place in her heart. Furthermore, she suggested travelling to Naxos for authentic Greek culture and Crete for a nightlife experience.
You can also check out her solo backpacking trip video below:
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