Looking out through the aircraft
window, it was pitch black. Occasionally a small village would loom into
view, given away by scattered lights. We were on a night flight over
the Greek mainland. Theo and I were off to the Athens boat show. No sooner
had we taken off and climbed to a safe altitude, we started to descend. The
flight from Corfu to Athens only lasts a short while. As the plane banked,
the glow of the city could be seen on the horizon.
We arrived at the
new Athens airport. It is large, clean and efficient. Indeed, within minutes we had
collected our luggage and were in search of a taxi. Taxis in Athens are
the most popular way to get around. They are easily identifiable as they are
all yellow. Often while taking a ride, the driver will collect another
passenger on route - an interesting way to meet new people!
Anyway, it was
late at night, we found a taxi and headed into the heart of the city. For
the first time, I had not already pre-booked a hotel via the Internet.
Normally when ever we travel, I am always hyper organised and have a schedule
as to where we will stay and at exactly what times! With this trip though, it
was arranged at the last moment. We asked 'Spiros' our taxi man to suggest a
nice hotel. This proved a mistake. The moment we arrived, he ran inside - I
can only assume to collect his 'commission'.
With my limited Greek,
I think I read the sign at the door as saying - "Rooms available by the hour!" This should have
put us off, but it was late. The room was awful, the beds soft and do not ask what the bathroom was like. I
slept on the floor and had a surprisingly good sleep - my years of back pain
disappeared over night! The next morning
we headed to the boat show. Arrived at 10am only to be told that they did not
open until 5pm! We spent the rest
of the day sightseeing.
Athens is a city
that never sleeps. Traffic, smog, people trying to sell you something at
every set of traffic lights, and busy Athenians. Having lived in Corfu
for ten years, this brought back my nightmare memories of being back in
will find around every corner an ancient relic or quiet street. Not all of
Athens is so built-up. Just a short drive, and you will see quieter suburban
Athens is talking about the Olympic games which will be held here
in 2004. Old buildings are being knocked down to make way for new roads.
Impressive buildings are being built at a frantic rate - especially as they
are behind schedule. Construction is everywhere.
Talking of old
buildings, this one is being repaired. The Acropolis, dominates Athens being
high up on a hill and can be seen from nearly everywhere. At night it is lit
up and looks stunning. To visit, you need to walk up. Not for the elderly,
especially as the ancient rocky paths have become smooth and slippery through
Its sheer size is
impressive, and the views over Athens are breathtaking. From here (see the
above panoramic), you can see that Athens is actually built in a large dip -
hence the smog.
For lunch, we
walked down to the "Plaka". This is the old part of Athens, quaint
narrow streets lined with tourist shops!
The buildings are
old and architecturally interesting. The flea market is touristy. But, the
little 'Plattias' where you can stop for lunch are a delight.
After our first
hotel experience, we excelled on our second choice.
The 'Oasis' hotel
(www.oasishotel.gr) in Glyfada, as its
name suggests was very welcome after a hot day of sightseeing along the dusty
Our room even had internet access!
Theo and I
wrecked it though!
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Athens - Useful
Tap water is
heavily chlorinated and fluoridated and supposedly safe to drink. Even having
a shower in it, you can taste the chemicals, so drink bottled water.
accepted everywhere (unlike the rest of Greece).
With sunny, hot
(but dry) summers, and mild winters, (it was 25c when we were there in
November), Athens has an ideal climate.
local 'corner' shops often stay open until 10pm.
hours are: Monday and Wednesday 9.00am - 14.30pm; Tuesday, Thursday and
Friday 9.00am-13.30pm and 17.30pm - 20.30pm; and Saturday 9.00am - 15.00pm.
I almost forgot,
we returned to the boat show and bought the following:
It is the 'Pelkios
10m' 22 person boat taxi, with a top speed of 32 knots. We use it as
our boat taxi to the Taverna each evening during the summer from the surrounding bays.