Day 25 – Athens Anxiety
21 April 2015
It was time to say goodbye to not only Italy but our friends from Como. We were off to our final leg of the trip which was in Greece. They took us to the airport in Milan early in the morning. Probably weren’t early enough as the check in line was so long and we actually didn’t have much time until boarding. We waited and waited, tried to check in online on our phones, that failed too. After nearly an hour of queuing, late passengers were called out to check in via a special booth #winning and so we quickly lined up. Katrina told us to push, be more aggressive as the other people queuing were doing the same thing. After checking in, we said our goodbyes and thank our friends for a wonderful time in Como. We invited them to come to Melbourne so we could repay the favour.
The flight took 2 and a half hours. We arrived at 11am in Athens. As soon as we got our bags we checked for Wi-Fi connection as we still had to figure out how we were supposed to get to our hotel. We decided that we would take the train. There were some signs in English and so it wasn’t hard to find, the Greek alphabet was too hard to comprehend. There was a man on the platform, we weren’t so sure if he worked there or not but he must have noticed the confusion in our faces and so he asked us in English if we knew where we were going. I told him not really and showed him the name of the station we were supposed to get off at and he was happy to show which platform and which train we were supposed to catch. There were already a few ‘tourists’ waiting on the platform and so we were a little relieved that we weren’t the only ones catching the train. The train got packed, stop after stop as more passengers would come in and not a lot were getting off. We got off a station where we had to catch another train. Wifey and I had a luggage each and as soon as we got on the train we were separated by the crowd. I was backed into a corner by a suspicious man. He seemed to be focused on my luggage and below my pants. As flattered as I was I knew he was up to no good, he was definitely a pickpocket. Luckily for me I already had my wallet at the front pocket of my pants as a precaution. He was still trying to go behind me but there was no space which pretty much gave away his intentions and so I was extra cautious and did not let him through. Giving up he tried to weave his way through the packed train and Wifey noticed that he was trying to feel up another person’s back pocket. Eventually we reached our stop and got out of the station as quickly as we could.
I got my phone out to track the location of the hotel. It was only a short walk from the station. I didn’t expect Athens to look so old and grungy. This place reminded me more of Manila than Rome. Already feeling unsafe from the train ride and walking out in the streets, we felt even more unsecured. We were so relieved when we finally reached our hotel, Lotus. Since we were still a little early to check in we had to wait at the lobby. Another couple came in, they looked Chinese to me. I overheard them talking to reception and saying that the woman’s wallet was stolen from her bag at the station, they wanted to report it to the police. That could have been us if we weren’t so careful.
As hesitant as we were to explore Athens, we didn’t want to waste the day. Plus we haven’t had lunch yet and so we decided to push on, we just had to be extra careful. I didn’t take out my camera even my phone on the way to the station and even on the train. We were off to Acropolis to see the Parthenon. Once we reached our stop we looked for a place to eat, we chose Yard Cafe. I had the moussaka and Wifey ordered some chicken skewers with salad. The moussaka was what I expected, like a vegetarian lasagne.
After a satisfying meal we made our way to the ticketing office which was located half way up the Acropolis, Athen’s ancient city. It was €12 per person to get in. We continued the climb up to the top, getting a decent view of the Odeon of Herodes, a stone theatre used as a concert venue built in 161 AD. The Parthenon stood in the middle, on top of the hill. It was heavily scaffolded but was still magnificent to look at. Built as a temple for the Greek goddess Athena in 447 BC, it was amazing to still see it standing after all these years. There was also the Erectheion, another Greek temple dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon. From the top of the hill, you could see the how big Athens was. It stretched from all directions as far as the eye could see.
We then headed down the hill to the Acropolis Museum. It was €5 per person. Photography was strictly prohibited. I was about to sneak a shot but was caught out immediately and so I didn’t bother trying again (ok I took one shot but that was it). There were more statues inside and other relics found from excavations such as pottery, jewellery and other household and personal items.
Time flew by and we realised it was late in the afternoon already. We didn’t want to stay out late as we were still paranoid about being robbed haha and so we decided to have an early dinner so we still had plenty of time to go back to our hotel. Wifey’s friend back in Australia recommended we try A for Athens, a rooftop bar which had an awesome view of the city. It was a decent walk from Acropolis but eventually we found the place. We took the elevator up and were met by a full bar at the top. It was just a lot of people enjoying their drinks, not much food was being consumed and so we decided it was not the place for dinner. We ended up eating at a restaurant below, I had forgotten what it was called. We were seated in a courtyard. While we waited for our food to come we were amused by the cats that passed by as we saw a lot of them! One decided to climb onto a table of leftovers and eat but was quickly shooed by the waiter. Wifey had the pork chop and I ordered the salmon. The food was a little dry. The baked eggplant dish for entree was delicious though.
We returned to our hotel at around 9pm. It would be another early morning start for us as we were to catch a ferry to our next Greek destination… Santorini.