Athens and the start of my 2012 Greek Odyssey. I don’t know where it will lead me but I have a broad plan, a Kindle and now, very much at the last minute, the Kindle edition of the 2012 Rough Guide to Greece. So, fully equipped, Greece is my oyster. I can find out everything about anywhere. Until the very last minute I had thought to take the book version, pre-ordered in February and published on 1 May, but it weighed close to a kilogram. Thankfully, the Kindle version was published just in time. Finished downloading it at 01.00.
When I left Grey Britain it was cold, wet and grey. Very cold, wet and grey. The day began unusually early though not as early as it should have done. Number One Son was to pick me up at 06.00 to drive me down to Newport bus station to make sure that I was in plenty of time for the Heathrow Express. So I re-set my alarm for 05.00 and planned an early night. Unfortunately, my determination to get to bed early was frustrated by my determination to minimise the weight of my baggage I didn’t get to bed until 01.00 when the Rough Guide download finished and come the morning I woke to find that the alarm had been shrieking at me incessantly for 20 minutes. Hardly surprising I suppose given that I sleep through the severest of thunderstorms. At least people tell me that there have been thunderstorms. But if there is an explosion in the desert and I don’t hear it how do I know they are not just winding me up. And for all I know the alarm sounded silently for 20 minutes. Enough wittering, I’ll get on with the rambling.
Notwithstanding philosophically silent alarm clocks, I was in good time for the coach which made good time through the early morning traffic in Bristol and at the London end of the M4 to get to the airport only slightly behind schedule. It even got to Terminal One before the woman in a car which screeched to a halt in front of the bus as it pulled out of the bus station in Bristol demanding to be let on because she had a ticket. Jobsworth driver he say ‘No!’ She wouldn’t budge blocking the narrow exit from the bus station completely until Jobsworth threatened to phone the fuzz. She and hubby had a long drive in the rain and arrived after the bus. I know, I saw them come into the terminal building.
Nothing whatever of interest on the plane journey, save to record that I was well impressed with Aegean Air, the new Greek flag carrier. Good alternative to BA for the trip and cheaper. Left Heathrow slightly late, arrived in Athens Airport bang on time.
I decided to take the Metro into Athens, not an option when I came in 2010 as they don’t run after midnight so I had to take the express bus. Finding the station wasn’t entirely straightforward as it entails meticulously following signs and I’m not very good at step-by-step stuff, I prefer to work out the bigger picture and extemporise But I gave in, backtracked across the maze of access roads and got to the right platform … having 28 minutes to wait for the next train which runs at 30 minute intervals. Work that one out.
I worked out the train I wanted despite the Greek penchant for putting public information entirely in capitals. The former Road Research Laboratory demonstrated to my complete satisfaction that the brain takes in lower case more rapidly than uppercase (allowing for initial capitals and Proper Nouns) and I really struggle reading messages in caps in English nevermind in Greek. But I triumphed and sat back for the journey to Monastiraki, the closest public transport stop to the Hotel Euripides. Once on foot I tried to follow the map to the hotel but in truth remembered the way from 2 years ago.
I commented then that it was in a rough area and the austerity measures haven’t helped since, the decrepitude seems more apparent. Nevertheless the hotel is still one of the oases of relatively affluent calm and orderliness in an otherwise pretty run-down part of the city. Some of the decay is actually attractive in its own way and I plan to investigate more tomorrow. Wednesday evening, the first of my two evenings here, I ambled through the grotty bits the short distance to Iroon Square and then on to Monastiraki and took just a few pics.