Saturday, 25 September 2010

Greek Island Hopping Adventure, Athens.

I am sorry to say that today is the last day of my holiday, and the sound of heavy rain, thunder and lightning work me. Athens was stormy and very wet, I am glad I did most of my sightseeing yesterday.
Yesterday we had put on our walking shoes and explored the Classical City of Athens,(once we had mastered crossing the road with its manic traffic). The city is large and sprawling, but the sights are located in a small and easily accessible area.
The Acropolis, was all that is should have been.
The Agors. The Roman Forum with its fascinating Tower of the Winds. The streets of Plaka, where we stopped and had a very overpriced soft drink. The Temple of Olypian Zeus. The new Acropolis Museum.
That was yesterday, today once the worst of the rain subsided, at around 11.00 we set off and walked to the Museum of Cycladic Art. It is not hard to see where modern sculptors like Henry Moore drew their inspiration from. The simple Cycladic figures, crafted in 3200 to 2000 BC are simply fascinating. The museum is a private collection and I am very pleased that the owners of the pieces have chosen to share them with the rest of the world.
The area of the Greek Parliament was surrounded by Police today, I don’t know if this is a regular occurrence or something special was happening today. Thankfully the fully armed Police compete with riot shields did not spoil the enjoyment of the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This happens on the hour, but if you want to see it go about 15 minutes to the hour as it was 13.47 when we watched the performance.

The main shopping area on Stadiou street was like walking down any UK high street or shopping mall, all the same brands. This monotony is broken when you arrive at the Meat, Fish and Veg markets, this is like a different world. The meat traders are chopping meat to order and all shouting at the same time, you can eat in one of the small cafes in the market if you like. There was a fantastic array of olives for sale, or to try prior to your purchase. It was a simple lunch of Kebab today, we called in at a very crowded shop called Thanassis near Hadrians Library. Four lamb sausage shaped Kebabs, more like a Kofta to look at, were served on a pitta bread with grilled tomatoes and flat leaf parsley. Thankfully the waiter let us split on serving between two, otherwise it would have been far to much for me.
I needed the sustenance provided by the lunch for the assault up to Lykavitos hill. The climb up to the funicular seemed to take forever, steps getting steeper and steeper. Once finally at the summit, the view over Athens in spectacular. However, I prefer the view of the Acropolis from Filopappou Hill where the view enhances the magnitude of the ancient building. From the top of Lykavitos hill I felt the Acropolis looked quite insignificant, and that would be an optical illusion.
I have not taken any photos of the Athens Green Apartment Number 4, as it is exactly as it shows on their web site. http://www.athensgreen.gr/
I booked this apartment via Trip Advisor, and when we arrived Yanis was waiting for us. We were given a tour of the apartment complex with its beautiful garden / eating area. We were also given a map of Athens and lots of really valuable information about the area.
As I have said, the apartment is exactly as described, it is clean, very stylish and has every thing you need to enjoy your stay in Athens. But the thing I was so pleased with about this apartment was its location. It is absolutely perfect. We could walk to all the attractions, and in the evening all the Bars, Restaurants and Tavernas in the area of Pagrati were all so good, for food and the value, that we did not have to go far.
This was the perfect place to stay for a break in Athens and thanks to Yanis for making our short stay so special.

The next day the pre ordered Taxi was punctual for our lift to Athens Airport, being so early on a Sunday morning the journey was quick and we soon check in for flight A3 602 to London Heathrow on Aegean, due to depart at 08.50.
The economy seats are fine and I would not bother to book business on this airline as all that you get is a window seat and an aisle seat with the middle seat blocked with a tray. Then all to quickly it was back to the madness of London Heathrow Airport and the Great British Motorway system.
So my impressions of the Greek Islands I visited are;
Mykonos, was clean, pristine and with an almost Disney like feel at times, it was the most expensive Island and has the best food.
Naxos, a real working Island, a place where the local population work in other trades, not just tourism. The beaches on Naxos are the best we saw.
Antiparos, this Island was to small and quiet to hold my interest for any length of time. I am glad I only did a Day trip to it.
Paros, has a little of it all , winding streets, fishing harbours, beaches. I would visit Paros again, it was my favorite.