Everything I remembered was gone...sigh.
November 26-29 – Athens – I’ve pretty much invested the last 3 days in exploring Athens and trying to get to Glyfada which is where we Air Force guys used to hang out back in 72. I was stationed at the Athena Air Force base which had the name changed officially from an American to a Greek base because of political unrest at the time.
I took the tram out to Glyfada on Monday but by the time I got there it was dark and so I just walked around and came back. On Tuesday I waited in Syntagma Square for about an hour and a half along with the riot police with their shields and helmets but the bus never came. I guess they were waiting for the demonstration to get over before they would come. So I just gave up on the idea of going to Glyfada for now.
So I went out in the Metro to Piraeus and had a look around. The main thing I found out was that it wasn’t worth going out to Piraeus unless I was taking a ferry or something. After having a look around Piraeus I then came back on the Metro to the Monastiraki metro stop and then walked up towards the Acropolis and Agora. The Agora was closed and I walked along the fence on the pedestrian walkway to the Thissio square and Metro stop. From here I could have taken the pedestrian walkway around to the other side of the Acropolis but it was getting dark and I instead turned right and went down to Ermou street and took it back to Monastiraki square.
Pretty much everything worth seeing in Athens is within easy walking distance of the Plaka area and having a car here would be nothing but a hindrance. The Metro system will take you from the airport to within walking distance of most places. They have a bus system but all their maps and routes are literally Greek to me and I haven’t been able to get much use out of it. I did however buy a day use ticket Sunday and Monday which each day cost me €4 and entitled me to unlimited use of all metro/bus/ and tram except for the metro going to the Airport. Going to the airport requires a special ticket. Mine cost €8.
I am staying in the Monastiraki area myself which with all the graffiti on the walls is a bit intimidating but I haven’t seen or heard of anyone having any problems. And all things considered I have travelled alone all over and have found that as long as you dress plainly and look a little bored and annoyed no one bothers you. At least if you are a guy.
I’m staying at the Athens Style which if you don’t mind loud music in the common area all day and evening is pretty good. I use my earphones and listen to my easy listening music while on my computer. Or if the music is too loud I switch to Country and Western “Asleep at the Wheel”.
There is a great view of the Acropolis from the rooftop bar. They have offered me a beer each time I went up there to look at the view and I got the impression that the first one was on the house but I always declined one so I don’t know.
Actually I have been offered free shots of Ouzo from various tavernas as I walked past but declined as well. I don’t think they have seen an American who doesn’t drink before.
I was getting Pepsi with my meals at first but just started asking for “table water” which is a pitcher of cool tap water and free. I really don’t like soft drinks that much….except with pizza.
Still, I really am having a great time and the walks and sights around here are really extraordinary with all the ancient ruins about, and the weather very pleasant.
Thursday – 29 November – Glyfada – Today I made another stab at going to Glyfada. I went to Syntagma Square and caught the #5 tram. I got off at the first stop for Glyfada which turned out to be a bit outside the main town and so walked along the beach into town. If I had stayed on I could have got off at the main square but anyway I didn’t mind a bit of a walk along the beach. The tram stops outside Glyfada as well as two stops inside Glyfada that I saw.
Glyfada was a total disappointment. Everything I remembered was gone. In its place was a concreted over square, and chain stores and restaurants. If I figured it right (and it was hard to tell) the location where Bobby’s Bar was now has a KFC, a Pizza Hut, and a MacDonalds…….sigh. I looked around a bit and then caught the tram back to Syntagma Square.
The rest of the day I just kind of took it easy and got my bags downsized for the 20kg check in and 8kg carry on allowances on Aegean Airway from Athens to Santorini. And I did a bit of reading on Santorini and the Greek Islands in my Lonely Planet PDF file download.
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