Athens and the Lycabettus Hill
Acropolis wasn’t the first hill on our visit. A couple of locals recommended us to climb the Lycabettus mountain, which from a distance looks a bit like a volcano growing in the heart of Athens. For Nico, the idea of visiting this hill during sunset was especially tempting, as he could capture the sun setting behind the Acropolis. As we decided to take it one step at a time and leave the Acropolis visit for the end, as a cherry on top, Lycabettus was a great idea for a trip on the second day of our stay in Greece.
First, the Lycabettus itself
We would be lying if we said that we climbed the 300m tall Lycabettus mountain – we got there by “Uber”. I know that you can also go up from the Kolonaki district (it was supposed to be a very luxurious area) by a cliff railway. However, keeping in mind we had 10 kilos of equipment with us, and the sun sets early in winter time, we decided to just drive up and climb only a few last meters to the 19th century Chapel of Saint George, which crowns the hill. To our surprise, we found not only rocks and old church up there but also a modern restaurant, which could be a promising idea for dinner on summer days. In a run to see the sunset over Athens at the right time, we, unfortunately, didn’t have time to have closer look at the amphitheater on Lycabettus, which is supposed to be famous and a common place for Greek and international concerts.
The Lycabettus hill is created from limestone, which is especially visible on the top of the hill. However, the whole bottom is covered by evergreen pines, which gives this place unique character, reminiscent of a tropical volcano hill. There are two main legends connected to this place. The first is about the name. The name “Lycabettus” is supposed to come from the Greek word “Lycos” which means “wolf”. According to this legend, the hill was supposed to be a refuge for the predators. The second legend tells about the creation of the hill. According to Greek mythology, the hill was created by Athena, who dropped a limestone here, which she was carrying from the Pallene Peninsula to create Acropolis hill.
Second, the sight of Acropolis from Lycabettus
When we walked a little down from the top to the southern part of Lycabettus’ slope, the unforgettable view unfolded in front of our eyes. Most people chose to stay on top of the Lycabettus hill, but Nico was hoping to find a better angle from which the Acropolis hill rose over the city, instead of losing itself in it. The erosion of limestone created a sort of terraces in some places, which were ended in sudden precipices, from which you could see the crowns of pines. We watched the sunset over the Acropolis from one of such slopes.
On one site, we saw symmetrical buildings of leaving area in Athens, which looked like they were made from sand or marble in the light of the late afternoon. It made an impression of abstract – almost cubism – style paintings. But what really excited us was the view of the Acropolis gently rising from the city with the background of the Mediterranean Sea and a port behind it. We spent almost three hours in this spot, and Nico shot photos of the city in the golden light of setting sun. The effect of marble reflecting warm light was worth our time, Athens with the Acropolis looked like they were on fire.
Third, Greek cuisine, “a good German” and Greek wine (of course)
When the sun set behind the horizon of the sea, it became cold to a degree that even Daria lost feeling in her toes (despite sunny days in January, the nights get cold in Athens). The situation became dramatic. We were starving and freezing, so we almost ran down in darkness on icy stairs to catch an Uber, which would hopefully bring us to a restaurant in the city. On Tripadvisor, we quickly found a place which calls “Karamanlidika”. It was a restaurant that looked like a typical butcher shop, just with tables around for the guests. The food was delicious, the people were extremely nice, but what made Daria laugh for the next few days to come was a sentence a lady from the restaurant said to Nico when we were leaving and she found out he is from Germany. She gave him a restaurant’s leaflet with the words: “You are good German, you are not like Merkel. You will give us a recommendation on Tripadvisor?”.
This was a long evening, after a tough trip, taking photos and sampling food was checked off our checklist, but there was still something very important on it. If you are ever in Greece, you absolutely should try their wines. On this evening, we grabbed a bottle, and Nico gave Daria a lesson of the lyrics from the song “Griechischer Wein….” From Udo Jürgens:
In the end, Nico really is a good German…J