The Greek authorities made a new law during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Anybody entering Greece has to fill out a PLF form online, has to notify the authorities about the stay, a few information about their travel companion, and so on.
The problem is you have to do it at least 24 hours before your departure date, precisely before midnight.
Also, as we were flying from Spain, they asked for a Covid-19 test result – of course a negative one.
We had the test and everything was fine. We had a transit in Milan and there, before the flight, the airline said our PLF had not yet been accepted by the automatic system of the Greek authorities, and therefore, we could not take the flight!
This is how we faced the pandemic during our last travelling and got stuck in Milan for one night.
We bought a new flight ticket to Athens the next day and when the PLF confirmation came, we got on the flight the very next day.
Athens has been my city of wonder since my first visit almost a decade ago. There is no other city on earth that has so many archaeological ruins, all of which are around 3,000 years old.
You can feel the history in its air, and at the same the time, the beauty of the landscape and the taste of Greek cuisine will make your stay more enjoyable.
On the first Sunday of the month, all the historical ruins and museums are free to enter in Greece. Thus, you can easily save almost 100 euros if you select your date carefully. We chose a homestay at Monastiraki near the Acropolis Hill, and there is a direct metro from the airport.
The Acropolis Hill is the link crown of Athens. You can see it from almost anywhere both during the day and at night and wonder that it was built 3,000 years ago by master architects with supreme perfection.
Our journey towards history started early in the morning. We walked the slopes of the hill and entered the ancient area. Due to the pandemic, there was much less crowd than expected. But still a few hundred history lovers were roaming around the ancient temple which was built 2,500 years ago. The giant columns were spectacular.
From the top you can see the whole Athens, almost all the main ruins, and the Aegean Sea.
We were spotting the places we were going to visit after a while like the Roman Agora, the Greek Agora, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Hadrian's Arch, etc.
Then we went to see the most famous of all Greek temples – the Erechtheion, widely known as the old temple of Athena.
It is mainly known to the world because of its "Porch of the Maidens", the iconic six female figure-like columns which have been holding the ceiling of the temple for the last 2,500 years.
It has long been a mystery how the narrow necks of the six statues could hold the weight for ages.
In 1979, five of the statues were replaced by exact replicas and they are now on display at the Acropolis Museum which we were going to visit later. The other statue is in the British Museum, taken by Lord Elgin long ago.
On the way down, we stopped by the famous Herodes Atticus, an arena or stadium built 2,000 years ago in memory of Aspasia, wife of Herodes who was a wealthy official of that era.
The arena has 5,000 seats and it is still in use, especially for opera or play. What a wonderful feeling it was to know that time has stopped here, and it is serving mankind for the purpose it was built.
These architectures are symbols of not only the glorious Greek past but also human civilisation. They still make us speechless by their perfect beauty and accuracy.
Our next destination was the Greek Agora, the place where the Greek met each other after everyday work in the foothills, and where the great philosopher Socrates preached to his disciples in that golden era. It occupied a bigger area in the past.
At one corner, there is the beautiful giant temple of Hephaestus. On the other, there is a museum which has a marvellous collection of historical artifacts and sculptures.
The neighbouring Roman Agora was much smaller. We found the Prison of Socrates by the forest.
The rooms there were built by making holes in the hill and might have been used as a prison, but there is no proof that Socrates spent his last days here. It got its name because of rumours.
After that, we went to visit the grandest of all architectures of ancient Greece – the Temple of Olympian Zeus. It took 638 years to build the temple which has 104 columns.
All those were 55.6 feet high, though only 21 are standing today and there is no ceiling at all. Still, this ruin will take your breath away by its colossal size.
The place had crowd but much less than normal times in Athens. Security officials were strict about putting face masks on and maintaining social distance.
During the next few days, we visited several museums, a few famous ruins, and the Piraeus port. We also discovered Bangla street! On that street, almost all shop owners are Bangladeshis and they named it "Bangla Goli" (alleyway).
We were delighted to find some Bengali restaurants which have excellent food at a much cheaper price. They were selling milk tea with "shingara" and samosa.
Among all the museums, my most favourite is the National Archaeological Museum which has many masterpieces and the golden death mask of Agamemnon.
The mask was discovered by Heinrich Schliemann in Troy, and is believed to have belonged to Agamemnon, the great king of united Greece.
But later, the mask was proved to be 3,700 years old, a few centuries older than the Trojan War.
We were amazed to see the 2,000-year-old sculpture of Plato and Aristotle, which were replicated from original Greek sculptures.
The museum has thousands of artifacts and it took us one whole day to explore it. That was also the case when we visited the Benaki Museum that offers a wide collection.
Among all the pandemic safety measures, the change of the guards wearing pom pom shoes in front of the Greek parliament remainsed the same. Every hour, the show was going on, which drew tourists.
One late evening, we went to see the only marble stadium of our planet, which was used in 2004 Summer Olympics. However, it had been used in ancient Olympic Games.
I would love to spend a few weeks in Athens any time just to sit in any of the cafés, looking at the Acropolis and breathing in the history. Though a few things had changed due to Covid-19, it still kept us wondering about its exquisiteness.
But alas, we had to catch a flight to the dream island named Santorini. So, we had to say goodbye to Athens this time.