Sunday, February 14, 2010

Athens Day 1

Athens is now in off peak season, and I was in two minds whether to go or not. In the end, I decided to just bite the bullet and go with whatever happened. I was lucky in the sense that on the 10th of Feb there was a demonstration of sorts, and the air ports were supposedly shut down. Thankfully, my British Airways flight on the 11th proved to be uneventful.

Getting off the Athens International Airport, I now had to find a way to the city (challenge 1!) and to actually find where my hotel is (challenge 2!).

Getting to the city itself wasn't too bad, there were many choices such as Taxis, Buses and the train network. Decided to take the trains, as there was a 3 day visitor pass available that allows you to use unlimited public transport during those days. The transport system has greek and english text, so navigating around generally wasn't an issue. The airport also has a very very good map of Athens - well of the city center at least. That served me very well during my stay. Get a compass! It's a life saver. There are two sets of trains departing from the airport, the suburban trains, and the metro. Don't jump on the wrong one!

I was booked into Airotel Parthenon (I got the trip setup using Expedia btw - perfect flight timing there) as it was in a very very nice location, smack dab besides all the major attractions. In fact, the Acropolis can be seen just one street from the hotel itself.

The hotel is located just a street away from the Acropolis rail station, but I don't enjoy huge crowds, so I got off at the seemingly main station, Syntagma, and decided to walk the half km or so to the hotel.

I didn't know where the hotel was located to be honest, but my t-mobile pay as you go worked in Athens (luck!) and with the annoying iphone, able to pull up google maps to find out exactly where I needed to go from Syntagma rail station.

Hotel wise, the staff were very friendly, the continental breakfast was good, with a wide range of choices. The room was clean, no complaints really.

After a quick rest and a cup of tea, I left the hotel bound for... somewhere. Having no clear cut plans for the day, I just tromped around the hotel, and decided to just go visit the Acropolis. Not knowing where the entrance was, I just waltzed around looking for any path that would take me upwards.

View from the North Slope of the Acropolis, Lykavittos Hill in the distance.

At this stage in time, I wasn't aware that the Acropolis closes by 3pm during the off-season (....) and it was about half 4 when I was climbing up the North slope. Didn't find a way in anyways, but I did find a very nice path along the slope that gave a really really awesome view of the city, as well as Lykavittos Hill. Took many panorama shots, still haven't processed/stitched them yet.

It was slowly becoming dark - which is nice, instead of the sudden darkness that greets London - and I was rather hungry, and visited one of the restaurants in the Plaka for dinner. The Plaka is an area around the Acropolis filled with tourist, shops and food places. I guess as it's off season, it's pretty quiet.

Dinner consisted of lamb wrapped in spinach and stuffed with feta cheese, with some rice. I was frankly quite shocked at the prices of food here, as a cup of tea cost me 2.50 Euros!

After dinner, I headed home and spent the night drinking tea and reading a novel. I have to be the most boring vfx td ever.

Oh, on my way out from the restaurant, I met this really well dressed Greek who appeared to be very friendly, and proceeded to chat me up. I thought it was a really friendly person, but he slowly tried to get me to head over to his pub for a drink and meet some girls (LOL!!!!). I was in a good mood so I spent like 5 minutes politely declining his ministrations. I think he gave up after that ;-)


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