I’m on my own, struggling to carry my suitcase down a flight of steps to a Metro station in Athens one October evening. I’ve been in the Greek capital since Wednesday for the the TBEX travel blogger conference and now I’m going to meet my husband and kids who’ve just arrived in the city. A Greek man stops and shows me where there’s a lift which I can use. He makes sure that I know which train to take and where to change for my stop.
I make my way to the HouseTrip apartment where we’re staying as a family. Later that evening the four of us are walking from the apartment to a restaurant which has been recommended to us by our host. It’s dark. We’re all tired. We’re not sure where we are and we stop to look at a map. A Greek man passing by stops to ask where we’re going and to point us in the right direction.
My son shivers as we sit at a table outside Liondi, a tiny restaurant near the Acropolis Museum which serves fabulous Greek food. We’ve nearly finished dinner but Stavros, the friendly restaurant owner, goes inside and comes back out with his own jacket. He places the jacket around my son’s shoulders. Later, as we leave, Stavros presents the children with a foil box. Inside is some home-made cake for them. (They eat it for breakfast the next morning and pronounce it ‘delicious’).
Stavros orders a taxi to take us from Liondi to our apartment. Half an hour after the taxi drops us off there’s a knock at our door. The taxi driver has found my purse in his car and has brought it back. It contains my cash and credit cards and I hadn’t noticed that it had fallen out of my bag.
We go to buy bread from the baker’s near our apartment en route to a walking tour of the city’s main sites. We’re intrigued by the wood-fired oven and stop to watch the baker at work. He gives us some delicious fresh pitta to taste.
We’re walking from our apartment to the Metro station, off to see the changing of the guard at the Athenian parliament. As we start going down the steps to the Metro a Greek woman smiles and hands us her ticket. It’s valid for 70 minutes and she’s only used 20 minutes.
It’s our last day in Athens and our flight leaves at 8pm. We’re due to check out of our apartment at 11am and so we ask our host, George, if we can store our luggage somewhere until it’s time for us to leave. ‘No problem’ says George. ‘Check out when you need to.’ We use the apartment until 5pm.
So, when someone asked me today what the best thing was about our trip to Athens I replied straight away: the food is great, the sightseeing amazing but the best aspect of the trip for me was the kindness and hospitality shown to us by the people that we met there.
Athens, thank you for having us to stay.
Family travel lowdown:
We stayed in a HouseTrip apartment in central Athens for four nights. The apartment sleeps up to eight people and costs from £113 per night. Thank you to HouseTrip for arranging our stay.