Athens, Greece

19983943_10156344606878998_2776410245009737597_o

Greece, the birthplace of European civilization. The beginning of the sciences, the arts, philosophy, and democracy.

Do you know where the idea of using an owl to represent a teacher came from? Athens. The owl was a symbol of the Goddess Athena, who represented wisdom.

20368756_10156344619763998_3486897303989926996_o

First thing first, the Acropolis.

It towered over the entire city centre and so all one needed to do was to walk up the hill. You wouldn’t need to climb to one of the other hills for a photo like this (indeed that’d be a bit too far), as the best spot was actually very close to the entrance to it (halfway up the hill), with a massive group of rocks acting as a platform for the perfect picture.

This was pictured from another angle though.

20368894_10156344620673998_2956499042976535167_o

This was taken from the giant pile of rocks.

20368953_10156344615153998_2102624961457989716_o

Zeus’s temple from afar.

20369049_10156344615958998_1543800177728252721_o

The other side was under construction.

20369050_10156344614723998_6473762153906163053_o

A Greek-style theatre, one of the two near the Acropolis.

20369050_10156344619163998_2778693149188855178_o

A functioning theatre – I believe this was of a more Roman style, as there was a wall blocking the view.

20369125_10156344612918998_2795788923492992406_o

One of the more complete structures in the Acropolis.

20369781_10156344613473998_1457060848505192840_o

On the left, it’s female statues acting as pillars.

20413998_10156344616333998_1796941435147259219_o

The back of one of the most recognizable buildings in the world.

20414116_10156344613843998_8206795358851293163_o20414259_10156344617813998_1496463537808065207_o

A clearer view of the girls.

20451577_10156344616943998_4993892420785026007_o20451777_10156348553758998_9072053768003667339_o

There was no theatre in town (one would have to go for an afternoon trip that ends at 2am or something), so I settled for an opera. It’s not on every day so you’d have to go check. It’s possible to just go before 9pm and buy a ticket. Maybe not the best seats. Free seating based on zones.

Awfully hot.

20424037_10156348552833998_6007233240620956644_o

It was a pretty terrible experience actually. I couldn’t really figure out what they were doing in the story, up there the people were very small, there’s no English subtitles (it’s all in Greek), it’s very hot, the seats were very uncomfortable, and the speakers didn’t always work…Very often the singing just got cut off.

I left after two hours during the intermission.

20369573_10156344609248998_2871302170612788590_o

In Athens, you can either choose to buy the tickets separately, or you can buy a combo that includes seven sites (you can visit each of them once), all but one in the downtown within walkable distance.

This was a big marketplace back then. It now houses several things including this museum. It’s got plenty of busts.

20368760_10156344608068998_6071864640703190522_o

Climbing up the hill, you see this.

20369889_10156344603758998_2829222945963513450_o

After walking for around 15 minutes, you get to the supreme god’s temple.

20369935_10156344605603998_281196053116219367_o

Or rather, what’s left of it…

20414351_10156344611733998_8492943858305359068_o20424334_10156344605058998_4016726457225154217_o20507001_10156354824598998_4542111172418350563_o20507257_10156354823978998_2225671286201759003_o20449016_10156352242373998_6664662430718581107_o

View from another hill.

20449136_10156344622043998_3345929988498518676_o

Hadrian’s Library as you walk up to the Acropolis. This closed at 3pm.

20449263_10156344604673998_2117196525850603572_o

The first stadium of modern Olympics. Skip if you don’t have the time or the will to get there.

20449314_10156352244073998_6335295847116064761_o

The observatory on one of the nearby hills.

20507177_10156344620288998_7397489897456843023_o

Downtown.

20507297_10156344621388998_2857878200192373508_o

Tower of the Winds. The Radcliffe Observatory tower in Green Templeton College Oxford was modelled after this.

Not very tall or elaborated, but then it’s Roman.

20449283_10156344610973998_9036048008129223476_o20369755_10156344612268998_5079515373480115653_o

If you aren’t getting the combo, it may not be worth going at all, especially when you can see the whole thing from outside the gates.

20451953_10156354826128998_5961404192097072603_o20615613_10156354836523998_7049184006266661556_o

Hadrian’s Library. I don’t get why it’s closed so early when everything else was 5pm or 8pm.

20507723_10156352237038998_7366830676097258154_o

The hill opposite to the Acropolis.

20506883_10156354467358998_5844767835806505218_o

I took an Uber from the centre to what’s left of Plato’s Academy.

20507172_10156354466658998_630426438673504295_o

It’s literally mostly just grass and honestly I wasn’t sure what I was looking at. They didn’t even have signs.

20507670_10156354466333998_5836886253002455576_o

I think only one of these things might have been a part of The Academy, but I couldn’t figure out which one was it.

It’s free entry so I guess that’s OK.

20423865_10156354464708998_1591557472272017502_o

Aristotle’s school was a bit better maintained. It’s included in the combo.

20543686_10156354464043998_232633103837650247_o

But this was basically it.

20424122_10156354465403998_4024989571372467415_o

The Byzantine Museum, a nice building next to the above. Entry not included for this one.

20543971_10156352239508998_8499078135023926800_o

Socrates’s prison. Free entry. You can just walk around the hill below the Acropolis and see things like this. There are no signs though so you’d need to know where you’re going based on the map on the main path outside.

Rome, Italy

11011554_10154016267928998_794129441365102953_n

Rome, where the Roman Republic/Empire started. Coincidentally, also my favourite historical city. It has everything I like – impressive, imperial buildings, ancient ruins, and everything’s reasonably close.

The structure above was my absolute No 1 in the metropolis. It’s extraordinarily well-maintained and you can go on it and get a marvellous view of the city.

11174991_10154015211823998_1269383945821539479_n

Proof.

11174991_10154016262253998_2699015715294412924_n

It was awfully hot though – around 35 degrees. Would probably have died had there not been literally water fountains everywhere downtown!

But it was so hot that despite the fact that I kept drinking and drinking water, I never really needed to go to the loo.

11220076_10154013369448998_5807122969456957711_n

The complex looked much better in the evening with the lights, even though it might have been more difficult to take good photos of them.

11737819_10154016256128998_4317357868370677142_n

Rome is a highly walkable city (you’d need to be a big walker tho), ever if you want to walk from the central station (where I stayed) all the way to the Vatican and back. It’s quite a nice walk too, with all the unique and stylish ancient buildings at every corner.

11742766_10154016267308998_772811967006007569_n

One thing that stood out to me was the atmosphere in the city. The archaeological sites had all aged quite a bit, and they were all ruins beyond repair. Yet, Rome still felt like very much the seat of an empire, albeit one that had fallen a long, long time ago.

On another note, they projected videos and images on to some of the walls and that was cool.

11742846_10154015213723998_6154548851990168628_n

Still an impressive building but didn’t look as good as it was in the evening.

11755117_10154013343073998_8270185230391953275_n

The trouble with visiting Rome is that once you’ve got there, you won’t find Athens that special…

11760221_10154015211533998_4012638255221253961_n

The churches are all empty, btw. Very cool tho so good to visit during a heat wave.

11781701_10154016262718998_5766414036516416285_n

Apparently Italians are exceptionally sceptical of air-conditioning, so you can’t expect to have that in most places.

11781797_10154013368108998_1516888289621987249_n

Prague, Czech Republic

My adventure as a Czech hunter. (Didn’t hunt any actually.)

10407933_10154010989108998_7838699203533782359_n

Prague, the capital city of Czech Republic, is a historic capital of the Holy Roman Empire. It was a very different place to be, as even though it was still Europe, they didn’t have the level of wealth of development western Europe enjoys.

11169484_10154011000408998_9032728595121019744_n

The most famous landmark of the city, Charles Bridge.

The juxtaposition of this structure reminding one of the heavy Christian background of the country, and the fact that it’s now practically a pornography capital, was interesting at least. But then, the Vatican funded porn and Jesus never really said anything against it.

11188295_10154010997518998_3336748334245822102_n

One special thing about the Czech capital was how historic the whole city looked. It didn’t feel homogenous like Bath or Oxford, but you also wouldn’t see a modern building out of nowhere. It didn’t feel particularly imperial, despite its history, but still a nice sight to see.

11205528_10154011014553998_1270521851509667301_n

When I went to Vienna earlier, it was Prague it reminded me of. I’m not entirely who predates who, but it was the streets with old European plain buildings on the sides that made me feel that way.

Now, I didn’t actually find Prague all that interesting, perhaps due to the fact that I had only really an obsession with grand buildings, but it was nevertheless a decent town. Just don’t expect any recognizable landmarks or impressive, breathtaking structures towering over you.

11232900_10154011022433998_2609083218951948202_n11249701_10154010989753998_3291000771427460545_n

This was probably my favourite, especially the inside of it (pictured below).

11694957_10154011023188998_5993239876656603138_n11703375_10154010996753998_6459135090400351082_n

The river was not bad too. It’s a relatively relaxing place to be, and you can always just stroll around aimlessly.

11707459_10154011820268998_8730638237852787879_n11709548_10154012215193998_3051988346058479651_n

The inside of the aforementioned building.

11737819_10154010982843998_1854764730061199228_n11737876_10154011946163998_6044817897498679833_n

I believe my favourite composer, Mozart, performed here.

11738134_10154011819688998_4705214390614771260_n11745587_10154010994578998_895386889023729600_n

A typical street.

11745630_10154010987948998_3001215896913290950_n11745933_10154010998018998_1760724413950838469_n11751849_10154010989643998_7274256023986862994_n

Looked very much like the Bridge of Signs in Venice.

11751925_10154010998308998_1258576854858940955_n11754254_10154010993333998_1348057212062618395_n

Like elsewhere in Europe. there were likewise more than a handful of empty churches for you to rest in.

11755207_10154011023328998_6495182518881201371_n11755269_10154011024493998_791280163641831702_n11755671_10154010982968998_8019399197540174939_n11760146_10154011013473998_569418338771281874_n11760204_10154012215648998_3599601101166878754_n11781865_10154011018718998_4016217440084773770_n

Amsterdam, North Holland, The Netherlands

988586_10153998279508998_7739696137765252039_n

A’dam, the Venice of the west, film location of The Fault In Our Stars.

1610964_10153998279808998_9033529181087588627_n

Even though they didn’t have big, impressive architecture, I still quite liked it for its unique style (not just the canals).

I took a Megabus from London – Europe-bound we were on a train type of thing; coming back we were on a cruise-like thing. As far as I could tell, no refugees got in with us. We had to get off in Calais and there’s also a Rotterdam stop.

11225720_10153998304198998_2254810566929476650_n

Like the Cambodians, some Dutch residents live on the water, except their homes are much nicer. To me, it feels very public tho.

And yes, I did try smoking marijuana for the very first time. Or smoking anything actually. It did nothing to me but I might’ve done it wrong, as I might not have inhaled much due to the smoke choking me.

10410501_10153998291243998_2619407330418698989_n

In general, it felt like an extraordinarily young city, even though it wasn’t. Even its coat of arms, with the XXX looked very modern, but it wasn’t.

The entire city wasn’t like this, by the way – this was downtown, and there was still large parts of Amsterdam outside of this (even though it’s a bit uneventful).

10424293_10153998289048998_4059145405661273874_n

The cathedral was the only old-looking building but the interior looked extremely modern as well (no pic).

11011483_10153998315728998_4228206179777544948_n

Boom clap.

I went to the Anne Frank’s house but didn’t go in after seeing the exorbitantly long line. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

20408_10153998287588998_3064841299918362060_n

The houses in the city centre were all very narrow.

11745568_10153998315388998_8228670092231344795_n11742798_10153998288693998_1459591466893727529_n11700884_10153998267868998_7771809039700867413_n11760272_10153998309408998_5199505624132520143_n11011530_10153998299788998_4571723784019082791_n11698624_10153998298918998_4256141779951215082_n

My first time seeing something like that I think, and then I discovered how common they were in Mexico.

11695009_10153999397558998_8807409563727966257_n11017481_10153998278228998_6604538003803144179_n11224019_10153998278348998_6405352466244708196_n

The symbol of The Netherlands – think it was the only one in the city.

11046575_10153998281788998_6730506365449558359_n

The red light district. They were some women behind the doors and some other establishments.