Thursday 20 June 2013

Greece: Day Three - Athens

Our plane from Philly arrived in Athens at almost 9am local time which would be 2am Toronto time. The rest of the flight was okay - just really cramped quarters to be in for 10 hours. (I have decided that I am never going to Australia unless I take a ship to get there). Brian didn't sleep on the plane, and mine was limited. 

(The youngest ones on the trip during landing)

We disembarked the plane with no problems and breezed through customs. I don't know if its due to the economy troubles or what, but the woman didn't even look at us, or ask questions. She stamped our passports and that was it. It was the easiest customs experience I have ever had. From what I saw the airport is awesome. There was even this plexiglass enclosure inside which was a smoking lounge. There was a ton of gourmet Greek food, oil, candy and bread places as well as cafes and bars/lounges. It's also next to a huge Ikea which was weird. 

(An odd statue on the street)

The travel company the trip was arranged with, met us and we met our guide and driver that we would have from next Monday-Thursday. We loaded into the bus and made our way to the hotel. Some of the streets are very narrow, some of the worst I have seen in my Europe travels. The street in front of the hotel is so narrow the bus couldn't even get there. It had to let us off 5 minutes away outside a Hard Rock Cafe, move our bags to a smaller van and then have us walk to the hotel with our hand luggage/carry ons. Despite that, it's a beautiful hotel. Beautiful decor, great amenities, comfortable room. There is a an outdoor pool on the terrace and an indoor one in the basement near the gym. I would definitely return here. 

(Brian and our niece Eva)

(Our room)

(Us at lunch)

Our rooms weren't ready so half the group went directly out to see the sights and the rest of us stayed behind to have lunch and wait for the rooms to be ready. Lunch was really nice, but the service was so slow. Nick - who is from Greece - warned us that this tends to be the case more often then not. After lunch, Brian and I got into our rooms, put away the luggage and then went out. We had some trouble understanding the map, so a local woman guided us toward the right area. We still didn't fully understand where to go, so we picked a route based on what we wanted to see. By this point it was after noon, and 95 degrees out. We first stopped and saw the ruins of an ancient Hadrians library which was interesting. Just being among the ruins was an incredible feeling. We made our way toward the Roman Agora and looked around a little. It offered stunning views if the Acropolis. By this time the heat, jet lag, lack of sleep and headache started to get to me and I was ready to head back, but we pushed on. We made the mistake of taking the long way around to get to the top where the Acropolis and Parthenon started --- it was then another walk to get up to the actual area. At this point I was done. Then headache was worsening and I could hardly stand. Despite really wanting to see both, I opted to head back and leave Brian to finish. 

(The Library)

(Brian at the Library being all Mr. Photographer!)

(The market area)

(Streets of Athens)

(Roman Angora)

(The Angora - you can see the Acropolis way in the background)

(Close-up of it - it's way at the top)

(Brian and I)

Below are some photos Brian took of the Acropolis, Pantheon and various temples. 

I made it to the hotel, cooled off for a few minutes in the cold indoor pool and then laid down to try and fix my head. Brian returned an hour and a half later and we went out and found a small Greek restaurant for a light dinner. While we were eating there were these homeless cats coming over to the tables looking for scraps. It was so sad, the looked like little hungry versions of my brothers cat Randy - so of course I had to feed them. 

(The cats)

Athens is different then I expected. The ruins and such you always see in photos are there, along with the scenery but the atmosphere is surprising. Again maybe it's due to the economic troubles but there is so much panhandling and begging on the streets. You can hardly go anywhere without someone trying to sell you something or get you to eat in their restaurant. One woman came over to us 3 times trying to sell a tablecloth. I am interested in seeing if this is something you see all over Greece, or just in this area.

Overall I am disappointed that I didn't see the Acropolis etc up close the way I wanted to, but I know coming back was the best thing. Pushing myself too hard on such little sleep and dehydration wouldn't fare well for tomorrow which is another busy day. Seriously, it's like being in Ireland all over just this time with family and where I am NOT the youngest! 

Tomorrow we need to be up early to head to the port for our three night Greek island cruise. So that's it for my blog tonight as I need to head to bed and finally get some sleep! 

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