Athens ~ a dodgy guide

3 days in Athens. That’s what I gave myself before heading out to the islands. I have another four days there once I get back from the island tour.
Day one ~ rock up exhausted after an overnight flight and I catch the metro train into the city (don’t get a taxi, the metro goes every half hour and only costs €10 and a taxi will set you back at least €50 and it’s not any quicker). Syntagma is the central stop and I was staying closest to Omonoia station. Trip took me about 45 minutes and was kind of scenic in parts.

Got to my hostel and it was only around 11am so my room wasn’t ready. I stayed at Sparta Team Hotel. It was a nice enough hostel for the price but the area I wouldn’t recommend for single female travellers as I felt a bit uncomfortable, especially at night.

So I headed down the street to find myself some food and just wander around Athens for a few hours. Walked into Monastraki Square (really nice area for food and just hanging out in general) and I walked all the way through the flea market and literally walked into the ruins where the Acropolis was. I bought the €15 ticket (€30 if you don’t have a student card) and that gave me 5 days for pretty much the main things in Athens. I headed through the ruins in the summer heat and headed up the dreaded and steep Acropolis hill. There’s a look out point just before which is great but be careful, the rocks are very slippery. Almost broke my camera more than once.

Once in the Acropolis there’s also the Parthenon and the South Slope (I think) to see. You honestly don’t need hours there, it is really just the buildings, some photos, soak in the view and then move on. Especially in the heat. Then I headed back down the hill and over to the Temple of Apolllo which is still in the same big area just down the hill a bit. After that I headed back to the hostel and just rested for a bit getting ready for dinner. I went to a little restaurant called Nonna’s which was not bad, pretty cheap and easy for a first day. I ended up falling asleep pretty early because of the jet lag so didn’t do anything that night.
Day two ~ I woke up and walked around through to a few other key areas. Went to look at the Parliament Buti. zildxinzgs and check out other main squares. Then I made my way over to Zeus’ temple g check out the jother side of the Acropolis. Zeus’ temple was included in the ticket I had bought the day before. I also headed into the Panatheanic Stadium (the one that basically started the Modern Olympic Games). It’s only €2.50 to get in on a student card (again €5 for full fare). In there you can get a free audio tour which I would definitely recommend. Try not to go there in the middle of the day like I did because there isn’t any shade whatsoever. Overall it was a good day, would recommend taking your time to really walk through this city. In the evening I hiked up Mount Lycabettus which is about 25 minutes from the bottom to the top. I got up there for sunset and it looks over all of Athens and you can see back across to the Acropolis and everything. Pretty amazing views up there, would definitely recommend a sunset walk up there just leave yourself enough time to get there before sunset!
Day three ~ I met someone in my dorm room and he had been studying tourism so now he was trying to travel through as much of Europe as he could before going into the industry. He told me about heading down to Cape Sunion. I got on the bus at 10am from Athens and headed all the way down to the southern tip of the main land of Greece. Here you’ll find a little mini harbour, a beach, some epic cliffs and possibly most importantly, the Temple of Poseidon. Poseidon was the God of Water so  they built his temple there so that it was the last thing people saw when they left the mainland. At least I think that was it. There’s also a restaurant there so because the buses only come every hour or so, you can get something to eat or drink (of course there is a bar too) and just take in the beautiful view. Everyone says this, but you have to be careful getting back because I think the last bus leaves for Athens areound 5pm (might be 7pm or something like that). There is a town down the hill you could explore but if not then you would only need about an hour or two to really take it all in. When I got back my Busabout tour was meeting up for happy hour drinks and then we went for dinner at the 360 rooftop bar in Athens, which as expected, gives beautiful views of Athens again.

Eventually I headed off to bed ready to head to Mykonos at 5.30am the next day. More on that to come.
Jax Goes OUT.

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The first 24 hours

To begin with, I am extremely tired right now so I’m hoping what I’m typing makes sense.

I did it.

I’m currently in Athens, Greece. Typing this from a nice little ‘alternative’ cafe with lots of colours and trinkets.

To make this quick, here’s an overview of what has happened so far:

– my bag got bird shit on it

– my computer broke

– my drink bottle broke

– I literally stumbled into the Ancient Ruins

– I witnessed a catwalk (followed by cheer votes) at 3.30am on my flight

– I made it all the way to my hostel without freaking out or getting lost

– I got extremely sunburnt

So… basically now I am sitting in “Nonna”, my back burning with my broken drink bottle, my bird poo bag and I’m waiting for a sand which so I can eat, go home and sleep… and it’s currently only 7.38pm. Kinda sad really, but I did just go for an aimless walk while I waited for my room to be ready. Didn’t even have a map open and I look up and see the infamous Acropolis above me with all the other ruins standing right before me. What are the chances? I mean I guess it is in the middle of the city and it’s a really big space but still, kind of cool that it was the first thing I really saw today.

On my way I also bought half a kilo of strawberries, you know why? Because it was 99 cents.. I don’t even like strawberries that much, they were just so cheap!

Athens is mayhem by the way. In contrast to Singapore, Athens is insane. Firstly the airport takes twice as long and they ask half as many questions, I brought in all sorts of food I didn’t eat on the plane and when I asked about it they laughed at me. People just drive wherever they want and if you want to cross the road you just sort of do and hope for the best, not that anyone slows down for you.

That all being said, Athens is beautiful – and I am very excited to go to bed early and have a really big day across the city tomorrow!

Jax Goes OUT.

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what’s my plan?

a question i have been asked countless times in the past few weeks. there’s something that is very unsettling to a lot of people about not having a plan and not knowing what i am doing.

even if i tell people where i’m aiming to go or what i know so far, once i get to the part where i have no idea, people ask me over and over again. what i know and what is planned is this; i will fly out of Singapore in a few days and start my travels. i will fly to Athens and spend a few days there, then i will catch a ferry to Mykonos where i will start my Greek Island tour sort of thing (not really a tour – basically just my transfers paid for etc.).

once i have finished all of the Greek Islands i will fly to London to see my friend who is there for an internship. i am planning to be there for about a week (none of this is booked yet) and then i will head down to Spain for a family friends wedding. this takes me to the very end of July where my plan ends. i will head to Germany and The Netherlands to visit a few friends and i would like to go to Portugal and eastern Europe (Romania, Hungary, the Balkan states, all that good stuff).

it is okay not to have a plan. i will be okay. if i am not, i will come home and start again. some of my friends think i’m just going to run out of money and end up coming home in a month. if that is the case, fine. do i regret going over? no. people keep trying to ask me ‘my plan’ in different ways to see if they can get an answer so they can understand my trip. they want to put it into a box but the truth is, i don’t have any answers, i don’t have a plan and i don’t have a box. ‘what if you run out of money?’ – is it not the same as if i ran out of money in Australia at home? i ask; why is money everything? sure money buys you things but we really don’t need as much as we think we do. i can couch surf, i can sleep on a beach, i can work for my accommodation. i am happy to do whatever i need to do to make the trip work. ‘when are you coming home?’ – well i don’t really have a home right now so it’s an invalid question to start with. also why do i have to be in such a rush to come back to Australia in the first place? i have been there for 20 years. i have no idea when i will ‘go home’ but if i can help it, it will be a while.

you can’t plan for travel even if you want to. things will inevitably go wrong and pre-booking and planning everything down to the final detail will only make things more stressful when it all unravels because a plane was delayed or a hotel missed your booking. by going with the flow as much as i can, i have ultimate freedom and LESS stress overall.

food for thought. where is your next trip? no idea? great, give it a go and see how that goes for you.

Jax Goes OUT.

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photo at Gardens By The Bay ~ SingaporeIMG_8607

the importance of importance

i really do believe that people in today’s society have lost sight of what is really important. people’s values and beliefs are getting caught up in media, movies and consumerism. we have become so detached from the natural world and the things that we really value.

in saying this, i am not trying to shame anyone for being a consumer or for living in the concrete jungles that we call cities. i am analysing what we are doing and why we are doing it. hopefully some of you can appreciate that and maybe take something away from it as well.

i have been focusing a lot lately on taking a step back from my emotions and situations and analysing what is making me feel a certain way and what is making me respond the way i am. for instance, i may go to leave the house and then i stop and i think i should change my clothes because they don’t ‘match’. but i’m wearing a top and pants so why don’t they match? more importantly why do they need to match? how do i know what matches and what doesn’t? if it fits and i feel good then why should i change into something that is uncomfortable yet is ‘socially acceptable’? again, i am not bashing people for wanting to look nice, i’m bashing society for giving us such a strict set of rules on what we can and can’t wear, how we can and can’t behave and what we can and can’t do.

as Claire Michelle (@plantifulsoul on social media) has said in countless posts, videos and stories; “we are worth so much more than a physical body”. this idea that it is so important for us to do certain things and to really value certain things is kind of odd to me. after really stepping back and thinking about why i’m thinking things and why i am doing things, i’ve really come to find that a lot of what society tells us is crap. people tell us how important it is to eat meat to survive, yet so many studies have shown how bad it can be for our health. society tells us that you have to be a certain body shape or that you have to go to university or get a 9-5 job. why do we have to do these things if that’s not what we want to be doing? we’re constantly being brainwashed about what we should and shouldn’t be doing.

i ask all of you, the next time you find yourself doing something you’re uncomfortable with, think about it and really ask yourself why. if it’s because it’s the ‘right thing to do’ in society, maybe raincheck that and do what is right for you.

find your own truth, don’t let society give one to you.

Jax Goes

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the wrong place.

i am so uncomfortable. i feel like there’s a voice inside me that has been stifled for so long. as i get closer to my leaving date, it gets more and more restless. sitting at this working desk, willing the days to go by. i was never meant to be chained to this 9 to 5 lifestyle. i knew this from a young age.

usually its’s excitement leading up to a trip, and perhaps even a bit nerve racking. i am excited but i am also ready to go. i feel so uncomfortable sitting in this lifestyle. i am not doing what i need to be doing. what i was made to do. what i was brought here to do. nor do i know what that is specifically, i just know that organising events, working in an office, catching the train and commuting everyday, sitting in this consumerism culture is not right for me. no judgement on those who like this lifestyle or are doing these things. for me though, i am meant to be outside of australia, outside of sydney. with less than three weeks till i go, the voice that i can only assume is my intuition is only getting louder everyday i wake up in this life. your intuition is like a puppy, once you recognise it, it gets excited and makes more and more noise. it’s great on one hand because i am able to be directed to what i need to do, but on the other hand i’m still sitting here waiting while it bugs me day in and day out.

nineteen days.

jax goes out.

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it’s time.

finally it is time for me to release my secrets and let everyone know. i am going away. most people are asking me where i’m going for my holiday; to me though, it’s not a holiday. it’s so much more. it’s a move, a journey of self exploration and finding the people i am meant to be with. i have an unwavering pull to leave my surroundings and societal norms have been pressuring me and crumpling the voice inside me that has always told me the same thing.

go. go as far as you can. learn through experiences and truly live out the life you’re meant to live.

so that’s what i am doing. in twenty nine days i will fly out of this country and be off on a life changing journey. i don’t have very much money saved. i don’t know anyone over there and i don’t have a particular plan. i just know i need to be there.

i have told my work that i will be leaving and a huge weight has been lifted. i feel like i am able to get excited now. i was never meant to be in an office, climbing the corporate ladder. i knew that and said that from a young age. i am a part of this earth, and i am meant to live in it. not in the concrete jungle that we see in our cities today.

i ask you to join me as i go.

Jax Goes Out.

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Being Alone?

As many people across Australia celebrated the Easter long weekend with the last ‘warm’ trip to the coast, or with hot cross buns and a family egg hunt, I was waking up on the side of the highway. In the back seat of my Toyota Camry, with a kink in my neck and some seriously cramped up legs. At least I was warm, unlike the group of people outside in swags next to me in the rest area.

Headed for Melbourne with pieces of a plan I set off with some snacks, my car and a camera with an empty SD card. Not even thinking about the fact that I would end up driving at least 4,000km completely solo. Not the slightest bit concerned about where I would be sleeping, eating or showering. No cares in the world. Just a determination to see as much as I could and enjoy myself while I was at it.

Headed for the Great Ocean Road after a long night of driving, I bypassed Melbourne and headed on the ring road for Geelong. After making it to Torquay, I got out and had a look at the first sight of ocean I’d had since leaving Sydney and Canberra. I only made it another beach down to Jan Juc before getting out to enjoy the coastal walk that was engrained with local footprints. Jumping the fence I headed towards the cliff side to admire the beautiful landscape. Hours flew by while I was enjoying the sea breeze and the incredible cliffs before me.

I was going to meet a few old school friends in the city for dinner – lets go with Beth and Megan (mostly because that is their names). The drive away from the ocean seemed so much longer than the one on the way there but eventually I made it. It was the first time I had worn shoes since I had left but I suppose for dinner in the city it was necessary. After a great catch up, Beth invited me to stay with her. Little did I know she lived on Floor 53 right in the heart of the city. The view was breath taking to say the least. The room (yes I know) I stayed in had an ensuite AND a floor to ceiling window overlooking the south-west side of the city so on a clear day I could see Port Phillip Bay.

When I woke up, Beth had already left for work and I headed straight out for the Twelve Apostles. Luckily I made it there in time for all the crowds. It was a fairly cloudy day but the lighting proved perfect for bringing out the raw colours of the rocks themselves. Regardless of the people, it was great to have that time in nature to appreciate some of the incredible things it can create. Finally it was time to tick of one of those Aussie bucket list items. I went straight for the Great Ocean Road stopping for snacks and a toilet break – it was Easter Saturday and most shops would be closed the next day to I wanted to stock up on what I could.

Here’s the thing… The Great Ocean Road, isn’t that great. There’s actually really not that much ocean. It’s a lot of beautiful countryside but I think I’ve been spoilt living in the south coast where Grand Pacific Drive literally parallels the ocean for most of the way. Eventually I turned off and went via the highway because it was nearly dinner time and I was going to be driving Beth into town.

For my final day before heading home I decided to explore the city I was in a bit more. I had always wanted to see all the amazing street art and graffiti in Melbourne. I found a website with all the street names and even a map. (https://whatson.melbourne.vic.gov.au/Placestogo/PublicArt/Pages/StreetArt.aspx)
Unfortunately I only got to see a few streets and laneways because then I lost my car for about two and a half hours in the city somewhere.

After filling a 32GB SD card and draining three camera batteries I started my way back up the coast to Sydney (via Lakes Entrance, Canberra and Wollongong). Listening to all manner of podcasts, music, radio on the way. It was an amazing moment when I was almost in Canberra and realised I wasn’t lonely once. Not even for a second. Sometimes you just have to learn to appreciate what is around you and you forget the things you thought you ‘needed’. It’s a very humbling experience learning to live with the basics. Learning to live with what you need and not just what you want is great and I would recommend it to anyone who’s open minded enough to try it.

That’s it for Jax Goes (to Melbz).