Tony & Cynthea Zurich, Turkey, Greece, Mallorca travel blog

Athens, Syntagma Sq

Athens, Pireaus port


Wednesday 27 April, Day of rest!!

This is our do nothing day. We are up at 8am for breakfast. It is supposed to be in the bar, but the bar is still locked. We go to reception, they unlock the bar and Tony is shown where everything is and we are left to fend for ourselves. Breakfast is two slices of bread, jam, orange juice and one coffee or tea, and they have the cheek to charge EUR4.50 ($8) for THAT!!! It is included in our room rate, and is better than nothing We are asked to make just one breakfast each, and to tell reception when finished so they can lock up again. One or two others join us, but it is not busy.

It is cold and wet outside and the bar stays locked, so we can only stay in our room or go out. We stay in, Cynthea sleeps and Tony is on the internet for a while. He goes back to the room to talk to Cynthea as it is getting near lunch, but he sits on his bed and falls asleep too. It is 3pm when we wake up, and it is still cold and wet. We have done nothing all day, haven’t even looked at the shops nearby.

The streets around are really confusing, many are one way, there are lots of small alleyways, and graffiti is everywhere. We are told to avoid a couple of areas after dark, and a guy we met at breakfast shows us where the nicer restaurants are. Trouble is they don’t open until late, and by 7.30 we are really hungry. There isn’t a lot open (it is too early), but we found the Irish Bar we had been told about and had a meal there. It wasn’t a very Irish bar, but they did sell Guinness. The hookers were out and about as we made our way home.

Thursday 28 April

Another really noisy night with the traffic, but it didn’t worry us too much. We look at where to head tomorrow, and decide to go to a travel agent and look at ferry sailings to the islands. We have not been able to find a lot of tourist info on Athens either, so hope to pick something up for that as well. We walk to the metro station at Omonia Sq, a couple of hundred metres from our hotel. We can get a 90 minute ticket for EUR1.70 ($3) or a 24 hour ticket for EUR4 ($7), valid for trains, trams, metro and buses, so we opt for that one.

We head for Syntagma Sq to find the tourism office, but when we find it, it is not as we expected. We were thinking it would have a huge pile of brochures and leaflets to choose from. Two booklets were all that was available from this huge bare office. We should expect the unexpected over here, but still we are still a bit stunned. The two booklets are only for Athens, nothing about the islands, or anywhere else for that matter! We recheck the sign to make sure that we are in the national tourism office, and yes, we are.

There is a travel agency next door, but they are not a lot of help either. Tony is reading the book from the tourism office, and sees that the ferry head office is along the road. We head there and book the early boat to Santorini. We have to be at Pireaus, Athens’ main port, at 7am, another early start. Tickets cost EUR38.50 ($71) each, and the trip will take 7 ½ hours.

We have the afternoon to explore the city, but we give the Acropolis a miss because it closes at 3pm. We decide to head to Pireaus to check things out for the morning. There we find it will be quite a hike from the metro to the ferry terminal, but if we get there early enough we will be ok. If we allow a good half-hour we will be fine. We won’t need anything like that much time though. We wander around the port area, and check out the massive cruise ships in port.

The tram system looks good, and will take us through the suburbs back to the square, so we head off around the coast, taking the long way back to town. There are dogs everywhere in Athens, and wonder if they are strays or not (surprisingly the footpaths are clean). We grab a bite to eat and take the metro back to our hotel. At Omonia station Tony realises that the direct line from there to the port is closed, and if we are to use the Metro in the morning we will have to change trains twice, a bloody pain with our packs. We walk back to the hotel, and take a different route through slightly better looking streets, something to remember in the morning when it will still be dark!

We have been taking very little out with us since arriving here. We haven’t been carrying wallets in our pockets, just a bit of cash and one credit card in the money belt on the inside of our pants.

Later when we are talking to the guys at hotel reception they tell us a number 49 bus will drop us at the ferry terminal, and that the bus stop is just beyond Omonia Square, about 300 metres from the hotel. The other option is a taxi at EUR15 ($28), but we already have valid bus/metro tickets from yesterday.

We look on line for accommodation in Santorini. Lonely Planet has a booking service, and the hotels are still in off-season mode. We can chose from three areas, and decide to head for the beach, it is cheaper than the cliff tops where you are paying mega Euros for a stunning view. We find a place on the beach at Perissa, EUR15 ($28) a night for a room with ensuite, and there is a pickup and drop off service at the port some 30-40 minutes drive away, so we book that.

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