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April 21st 2012
Published: April 21st 2012
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Saturday 21st April 2012:

We’ve had a really lovely day today in Athens and quite a thrilling journey to the top of the jewel in Athens’ crown: the Acropolis. For anyone who’s been here you’ll know that this is a significant lump of rock and for someone with such cruddy hips and feet as me, it’s no simple task to climb it. But we caught the coach in to the city with a guy who has MS and is in a motorised wheelchair. He and his wife were at the ticket office at the same time as us and the chap behind the counter indicated that there was a lift to the top. Now I don’t know about you but I’ve never seen pictures of a lift at the Parthenon so it was with some scepticism that we started walking where the man had indicated. And the further we all walked, the more we lost faith in this mystical lift. But eventually we found another man who suggested we were close. And he was right. At the far end of the base of the Acropolis is a little gate manned by two men who are the lift operators. The start of the journey is akin to a Stanna stair lift and this takes you to a vertical lift that is screwed on to the <em style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">outside of the sheer sides of the rock face. And sure enough, it takes you all the way up to the top of the Acropolis and deposits you right outside the Parthenon. We walked back down at the end of our visit and I quickly realised that without this brilliant, if very basic, lift I would never have made it to the top. It made our visit today a lot more special than it would otherwise have been. The temples are really beautiful – if somewhat besieged by restoration workers and a myriad of scaffolding. But if you can shut those bits out of your view, the rest is wonderful. I did Classical Studies at O level and it brought some of those fusty old lessons to life.

After the Acropolis we did one of our favourite things and that was to take a land train round the city. It meant that without taking a single step, we were able to see the Agora and Hadrian’s Arch and someone else’s library and various temples, amphitheatres, pillars, markets and the Plaka – Athens’ wonderful maze of side streets, markets and tavernas. We ended our trip with the most wonderful lunch in a taverna, out of the sun but enjoying this lovely spring weather and a truly authentic Greek salad.

We spent the latter part of our afternoon back on the boat soaking up the sunshine and dozing. When it came to sail-away, the Captain warned us that the wind had picked up significantly so it was going to be hard work pulling away from the dock. And he wasn’t kidding. We had to manoeuvre quite a long way to miss the long breakwater and did miss it … but only just. At one point I actually grabbed the handrail because I really believed we were going to hit it but people with a better view than I had said we missed it by about 3 feet. I don’t imagine the Captain was terribly happy with the local pilot who was on board at the time. It was plain to see that we were going to be awfully close and a boat this size really needs a bit more wiggle room than just 3 feet. But miss it we did, so we can now relax and look forward to a leisurely dinner and another day at sea tomorrow as he head across the Med towards our final port: Malaga in Spain.

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