I arrived in Athens to gloomy, polluted skies, perfect to match my mood. I hadn’t wanted to fly to Athens so early, and the thought of stopping and spending a few night in my stop-over only occurred to me once I was already on my way to Athens. I spent 8 stupid hours, starting in Croatia, to get to a place I didn’t even want to be.
To top it all off, the place I was going to stay in Greece had fallen through. Scamming some free wifi and sipping a latte in Stockholm’s International Airport, I hastily booked myself a one-night stay at the first (and cheapest) place I saw on hostelworld.
Imagine the sketchiest street you’ve ever seen: peeling, graffitied apartment buildings with cracked windows and crooked blinds. Add it the constant wail of screaming sirens, causal hookers, and junkies shooting up outside. Welcome to Athens International Hostel!
A large Greek man checked me in and asked me if I’d eaten yet. “I’m ordering, what would you like?” He leaned towards me and grinned, baring green-stained teeth. I shrank away slightly. “I’m alright,” I said. “Fine,” the Greek man replied. His co-worker blew smoke into my face. “Leave your key at the desk when you go out.” I almost laughed. There was no way I was venturing out onto those streets again.
The hostel itself felt safe enough, but outside was teeming with the type of nightlife I try to avoid as a solo female traveller. I managed to brave the bug-infested shower and springy bed for one night, enduring the screaming of French school kids that overran the decaying tower throughout all hours.
Early the next morning, my British roommate and I checked out of the Greek ghetto and stalked into Athens streets. Following the advice of hostel world reviews, we found ourselves at Hostel Pella Inn and booked a dorm room boasting an incredible view. What started out as a horrible, unplanned roadblock in Athens ended up in a dire love for the city and it’s people. Once I was comfortable with where I was staying, I was free to explore and adore the city.