Athens was such a delight to fly into. The views were beautiful and the airport uncrowded. Our bikes appeared off the plane about an hour after we did, and we wandered over to the train station and put them on a nearly empty train.
Then the train started to fill, and fill, and fill until 2 or 3 stations from where we were due to get off I was packed in like a sardine, separated from Christie, the bikes and even my small bag with my passports and money which had disappeared off somewhere. I was just starting to get a bit woried how I would gather these back together and get us off the train when fortunately everyone else on the train got off at the same station that we did so our luggage sort of disgorged with the crowd and we found a quiet corner to hide and let the crowds go by, before hauling our bikes and luggage up three escaltors, two flights of stair and out into the Athens sunshine.
Christie guarded the bikes (read she was too tired to carry them randomly around while we tried to find where we were) while I set off to find our hostel. Directions in hand, we proceeded to lug, push, pull, cart and curse our bikes the half kilometre or so to the hostel, including my carrying the two bikes (one over each shoulder) across four lanes of chaotic traffic where no traffic lights existed. This is when I first got a glimmer that I might really like Greece. Drivers weren't running me over, or cursing out windows, in fact just the oppposite, many stopped, and made gaps in the trafic for this poor idiot with the big blue bags over his shoulder to get across the road. I liked Greece.
We escaped into our room in the hostel and basically just collapsed. It was late afternoon and we slept through until early in the evening when the noise of drunken revelary woke us. Our room was right above the courtyard and as we tried to get back off to sleep, the $200 a night we paid for our nice quite room in Dubai started to look so much more worth it.
After a fitful, noisy night, we got up early and went for a walk through the old quarter and around the Acropolis. The whole place was deserated and as such it was magical. It was just us and the cats and dogs playing in the street. Although we couldn't get into the Acropolis itself, just gazing out over the city as it woke up was wonderful enough.
We spent the rest of the day sightseeing around Athens, discovering a we went that it was some special celebration and so all the main tourist sites were free for the day. Unfortunately it was vey hard to appreciate or get a sense for the history as you dodged between cruise boat tour groups and well basically all of the other tour groups with their guides out front jumping up and down as the groups in their matching red caps or blue t-shirts followed on obidiently behind. Furthermore, standing and gazing at all these old buildings you'd go up to the interpretative signs to get some histroy and find out absolutely nothing other than who had last spent money trying to excavate or preserve the area. All up, by early afternoon we felt pretty touristed out, and I kind of wish we'd just left it with the morning walk and gone away with that feeling of awe and beauty.
So we stopped for lunch at one of the cafes, drank some beer and wine, moved on to another cafe, drank some more beer and basically whiled the afternoon away. Finally, we decided that we had better head back to the hostel and put the bikes together for our trip out to Antiparos early the next morning.
To get a feel for how his went, fast forward an hour, or an hour and a half. Imagine two very tired (it was about 3am by our body clocks), tipsy people putting together their bikes in a cramped, hot luggage room in a noisy hostel when as Christie was pumping up her back tyre, you heard the dreaded "Phssssshhhh". Christie had managed to rip the valve out of the tyre.
Somewhat annoyed, and probably not helped by my "don't you remember how I told you to pump up a tyre" remark, she pulled out her spare tube, but quickly realised that she'd brought an old tube which already had a puncture in it. So with increased frustration out came her puncture repair kit ... No glue. Apparently I was meant to bring that.
So out came my puncture kit ... I'd brought a full tube of glue .. at last it looked that way until we opened it, and sure enough it too was empty. 9pm at night, we were both very tired, cranky, hot and dirty. We had a ferry to catch the next morning at 8am about 10kms away, you can't take bikes on the metro and so we had no way of getting our bikes to the island. You can imagine the atmosphere. we managed to get enough glue out of the tube to get the patch on, waited 10 minutes, put it all back together, pumped up the tyre ... and proceeded to watc it quickly go down all over again.
Resolving to solve it the next morning we went to bed (this time in a dorm room) and tried to get to sleep betwen the crashing and banging of the street crowds dining below and the snoring of the asian guy in the bed beside us.
6am came far too quickly, and after a hasty conference in the morning, we abandoned the bikes, paying the hostel to store them for a week, and set off for the Ferry Terminal. It was time to hit the Greek Islands.
So my advice - stuff the toothpaste - don't forget the glue!
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