One Day in Athens

I am aware that my blog over the past few days may have become a little like that slightly annoying neighbour. You know the one, reasonably pleasant most of the time but with an irritating tendancy to invite you round to see their boring holiday snaps.

Well, I promise that this is the last Greek Holiday post and no more trips away planned now until October, when we have a 3 week visit to Tasmania.

So, back to Greece.  We caught the 11 a.m. intercity bus from Nafplio to Athens.  It was a modern, air conditioned coach and a smooth journey, stopping only at a half dozen or so towns along the way.  All the tickets have allocated seat numbers and the tickets have to be bought in advance of travel.  

We do have a surprising knack when travelling of attracting some of the more eccentric characters on our journeys.  On this bus trip we were amused to follow the antics of one particular lady *of a certain age*. She had boarded at Nafplio and seated herself in the first row, talking the whole time on her mobile 'phone.  A couple of stops along the route, a gentleman and his wife got on and spoke to her - it appears that she was in their seat.  She was very reluctant to move and just carried on shouting even louder into her 'phone. Eventually she gathered all her possessions and got up.  By this time the bus had moved on again so she was swaying around a little before collapsing rather heavily into the seat right behind P.  The next 2 hours of the journey were spent listening to her - still very loud - conversation on the 'phone.  I actually switched off my hearing aids at one point as it was so bad.

Anyway, we arrived safely at Kifissos bus station in Athens and walked across to the taxi rank to catch a taxi to our hotel. We had been warned that some Athens taxi drivers could be a little *dodgy* and sure enough, the first one on the rank did not seem exactly trustworthy.  He had started to pick up the girl in front of us in the queue and we were signalled by the taxi driver behind him that he would take us. As we approached the second taxi, the first driver abandoned his passenger and came up to us asking where we were going.  The poor girl looked a little bemused by being abandoned and I didn't like his attitude. We got into the second taxi and our driver said that that happened a lot.  He was not amused.  He was a very nice man who explained about some of the taxi scams and what to look out for.  We trusted him and asked for his card so that we could book him to take us to the airport later.

Our hotel was situated right beneath the Acropolis and we had booked an Acropolis view room with a balcony.  I took this photo that evening as we sat out on our balcony enjoying a glass or two of wine we bought from the mini market around the corner.

We spent the late afternoon and early evening just walking around the streets close to the hotel and scouting out what was available nearby.  As we were both tired, we decided to have dinner in the hotel restaurant - something we don't usually do - however, we had been given a voucher for free wine with a meal if we ate there so that clinched it.

We only had the next day in Athens and would be returning to the airport the morning after that.  Our plan for the day was to visit the new Acropolis Museum after breakfast, handily right beside our hotel, then to walk around the main city centre sites and, depending on the queues, go up to the Acropolis and visit the Parthenon after lunch.

The Acropolis Museum was well worth a visit.  We got reduced entry by virtue of being senior citizens!  Sections of the ground floor outside and inside were glassed over so that you could see the excavation and restoration works going on underneath.

There is a wealth of information in the museum and it was quite unsual for us to be so close to the actual artefacts moved down from the Acropolis - statues, friezes etc - and not have them placed behind glass. Of course, you are not allowed to touch them but it would be so easy to just reach out and place your hand on something that was originally from the settlement and temples of the ancient Greeks.    No photography is allowed inside the museum but here is a link to show you what it is like...

After visiting the museum we walked along to Hadrian's Arch,  apparently built around 132 AD to celebrate the arrival of the Roman emperor Hadrian. 

It stands beside the site of the Temple of Zeus. Although only a few columns remain standing, it is not hard to imagine how colossal this would once have been.

From here, we walked along to Syntagma Square and the old royal palace, now housing the Greek Parliament, to take a peek at the National Guard with their wonderful uniforms and pom pom shoes.

From here we walked down to Monastiraki Square, a very busy throng of locals, tourists, street hawkers and scammers all coming and going between the metro station and the flea market.

We bought a smoked salmon roll from the bakery on the square and sat on a low wall in front of the ruins of Hadrians Library to watch the action.  At one point we noticed that there was a young man lying face down on the square. We were not sure if it was a scam or not as we had heard that this was a typical distraction ploy for pickpocket teams. Other people were also hesitant to go over to help but eventually two women bent down to speak to him. A minute or so later three police officers arrived and spoke to him. Miraculously he then jumped up, fully recovered and was led away. It is very sad that scammers like this mean that perhaps someone who is genuinely ill may just be ignored in future.

After watching the fun for a while we set off to walk the streets of the Plaka district, Athens' oldest and most picturesque area.

Some very spooky looking dummies outside one of the many tourist shops.

We had intended to make our way up to the Acropolis at this point, to spend the rest of the afternoon wandering around the Parthenon and the temples, however, some very menacing dark clouds were rolling in so we hurriedly returned to our hotel for a cup of tea and to wait out the rain. 

The rain shower turned into a very violent thunderstorm and we had a ringside view of the magnificent lightning flashes from our room. We didn't bother with the balcony at that point. We were both quietly reading when there was a sudden huge flash of lightning and the loudest clap of thunder either of us have ever heard. It was directly overhead and we later discovered that the lightning had struck the Acropolis, causing burns to 4 people and demolishing a ticket booth.  The site was closed for the afternoon so we never did get to visit.

We ventured out once the rain eased off and had dinner in one of the crowded touristy restaurants nearby. It was OK but we would have preferred something more authentic if the weather had allowed us to venture further afield.

A very pleasant breakfast the next morning then Kostas the taxi driver took us to the airport for our - delayed - flight back to London.

One last photo, taken from our hotel room balcony...


  1. Wonderful wonderful wonderul. You can keep on writing about greece or Tasmania as long as you like. I'm still catching up on your posts because of the greek easter. Worse is over now so I can relax and read!! Well a little anyway.

  2. Aw thanks. There will not be too many Greece posts I fear. This was my first ever visit and we don't have more planned yet. Althiugh I have a feeling that may change. I have a hankering to visit one of the beautiful islands. Just have to persuade my Grumpy Old Man :)


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