Translation: It is all Greek to me (us). Something we have learned from our travels, it is much easier to find our way around in a country that at least uses the same alphabet to us than one that doesn't. Anyway we arrived without any major problems with Easy Jet, the plane was a little late but thankfully that was the only thing, also we managed to luck out on the air attendants. One attendant was very amusing and asked the passengers for marks out of ten for the flight safety demonstration. At the end of the flight she reminded us to check for bags, coats and small children before disembarking the aircraft, I suggested to her she should try stand up comedy.
We managed to get to our hotel without any problems also. Amber has become such a pro at this by now that I don't even get that worried about it anymore. When we first started doing this I used to worry that we would not be able to find our accommodations or transport and we would end up spending our holiday under a bridge somewhere, well except for that time when we went to Malta and booked the tickets before checking available accommodation and very nearly did have to spend the week under a bridge...
Our first look at the area around where we were staying was not too inviting, it was pretty run down, some abandoned buildings, lots of graffiti and litter and some sort of dodgy looking people milling about on the street. Also we three are all agreed that we definitely walked passed a group of transvestite prostitutes who were in 'work' mode, so that was pretty much the first indication that we had not booked ourselves into the Hilton. Thankfully the hotel was very nice. It was very clean and the concierge was very friendly and he also spoke English.
The next morning we slept a bit later than planned and missed the breakfast provided by the hotel and so set off to hunt and gather our own. Just down the street we found a cafe with some outdoor tables where we parked ourselves in the sun in time to watch a group across the road converging, it appeared that a group of about 4 men where trying to 'encourage' another man to go with them. It looked like this man really did not want to go with this group of men and was attempting to resist while the rest of the group just stood there and looked on. Eventually they managed to get on either side of him and marched him down the street. We three looked at each other and tried to figure out what the hell we had just witnessed. It looked pretty suspect but I suppose there could be some innocent explanation for it all?
After a brief discussion we set of for the Acropolis. In the olden days to get to the site on which the Acropolis is located, it would have taken many days of travel and many horses. In the modern era all it takes is a tube ride. There is a rather largish hill to traverse though.
It is pretty amazing to think that these structures were built in 432BC and are 2568 years old. These are the oldest things Shelley has ever seen. The first 3 photos are the Parthenon, A temple to the Greek Goddess Athena, which Athens was named after and so is the patron god of the city. The last photo is of the Temple of Athena, which was built before the Parthenon, and dedicated to Athena's warrior aspect as she was also considered the God of war strategy. We think Athena must have also had an affinity for dogs as there were lots of them lying about in the shade of these various temples.
The view of Athens from the Acropolis.
Next on our exploration was the Theatre of Dionysus which is located at the bottom of the Acropolis.
This amphitheatre was one we were allowed to enter, and had some very pretty statues carved on what remained of the stage.
We got kicked out of here before we were able to look around much as we think it was time for the Greek siesta. We caught a tube back to the centre square and went for a walk. Without realising we ended up pretty near our hotel and along the way we saw a display stating that the temperature was 28 degrees. We disagreed with this as we were not melting but a little later on we saw another one saying 21 degrees but this was at about 7pm and it had cooled down quite a bit.
We stopped at a semi swanky looking place for lunch, mainly because it had outside tables and we were all trying to soak up as much sun as possible to make it through the pathetic excuse the English call 'summer'. We planned to have cake and wine for lunch (hold your nagging, we were on holiday) and Amber and I decided to order a bottle of wine to make things easier. Not too easy though at the damn menu wasn't very helpful at all to foreigners. In the end we asked for a bottle of medium white wine. Instead we got, a little who was dressed in a suit who came out to our table especially to open and pour our wine, (by this stage another person had brought us glasses). We came to the conclusion that this little man is kept in a box behind the bar and they only let him out when somebody orders a bottle of wine, that might explain why he seemed so happy when he was at our table, maybe he doesn't get exercised much! On top of the man we also were brought plates of canapes which we hadn't ordered and were not charged for. We assumed that it was because we ordered wine, maybe they were being responsible hosts and didn't think the cake we had ordered was enough of a meal to drink on. At any rate we certainly were not complaining.
Back at the hotel we asked our friendly concierge for information about an island tour that we wanted to take for the following day. Having spent a day in the city of Athens, we were keen to leave it. He advised us that we could get on a tour for the following day and the bus would pick us up from the hotel at 7:30am. At 7:45 the next morning he knocked on our door to ask if we could get ready quickly as the bus was downstairs waiting for us. It would appear that we had an alarm malfunction and didn't notice. Long story short we ended up taking a taxi to the wharf to meet the boat. Well this was an experience. We now know what Formula One drivers feel when they are racing. Our Taxi was a race car and all the other cars in Athens were competing against us. At several points I was too scared to look, Amber however did not have this luxury as she was stuck in the middle of the back seat and therefore could see all of our very near misses. She is lucky her hair did not turn white from this experience.
We made it to the wharf on time and boarded the boat and went in search of coffee. Not too long after we set sail for the first island named Hydra. It was beautiful, like something out of a postcard, or a travel magazine, People who picture Greece usually think of islands like Santorini. The lines of white and blue stone houses, and the clear blue of the sky and sea. Athens in nothing like this but Hydra is like a mini Santorini with purple flowers draping everywhere. If Athens is Dog Capital then Hydra is Cat Central. Cats were sun bathing everywhere and we only saw two cat sized dogs on the whole island. Hydra has no vehicles and all the transport of goods and people is done with donkeys. The men driving the donkeys are in charge of sweeping up the donkey's leavings and are very diligent in this task.
Back on board it was time for lunch while we cruised our way to the next island named Poros. Poros is a larger more populated version of Hydra without any of the smaller islands charm. Next stop was Aeginas. By this time we had all had a bit of a kip on the boat so were were all pretty dopey and decided to find a cafe for ice cream. then it was back on board to play cards for the trip home. The next day we actually managed to get up on time for our trip to the airport for our flight to Rome.
So that was Greece. In a nut shell, Athens is a noisy, smelly, dirty city, but the people are lovely and that makes all the difference when travelling somewhere new.