Friday the 13th, and we are on a boat!
13 May 2011
|We dozed rather than slept through the night, but had a reasonable night. Tony wasn’t quite asleep when we reached the first port (Sifnos) at midnight, that was quicker than the way over, but on that trip we had a stop. It is noisy as hell, as is the next stop. The two tvs are still going through the night, one had sports, the other infomercials.
Just after 5am we are woken with the arrival announcement for Pireaus, everybody out!
We take our time getting going, the bloody toilets on our deck are locked but we are allowed to use the ones in first class. We get our packs, and head down the ramp around the vehicles driving off and on. It is still dark when we arrive, but not cold, and dawn is not far off. We head towards the taxi stand, but they have all left, so we try and get our bearings. We walk to the exit, and are at gate 9, that is about where we were after trying to catch the bus here when we first left on the ferry. We can try and flag a taxi, or catch a bus, but the bus pulls away as we get to the stop, so Cynthea starts walking to the Metro. We know it is a bit of hike, we have done it before, but there is no time pressure this time.
We head along the road, taking our time. We stop and rest on a park bench, the one next door is occupied by a guy in a sleeping bag, there is a street light and we can read the map and directions to the backpackers in the city. We aren’t there that long and the street light goes out, it is 6am. Further along the road we spot a bus terminal, and try to buy a 24 hour pass, but they are only available at the metro. Tony asks how far, and is surprised to see they are gate 7 (where their first ferry SHOULD have left from), so the metro is not far at all. The walk there was not as long and difficult as we thought, but the packs are getting heavy.
We can brave the traffic and cross the road, or take an escalator up to the pedestrian bridge, so take the easy option. One thing about arriving this early, there is no hassling from the buggers trying to sell knock off watches and sunglasses!
We get on the metro and are pleased that this line goes straight to the station we need, (we had been told to go to Syntagma Sq and change trains). We board and are pleased to sit down. Cynthea goes mad at Tony for not validating the tickets (regardless of when you buy, you need to validate the ticket at a machine on the first trip, and then you have 24 hours from then). He says we just play dumb and don’t know we had to, she isn’t happy.
At Monastiraki we get off, and see only steps to the exit, bugger. There is a lift, but we are turned away because we are not disabled (the bastard doesn’t know how heavy the packs are, trying to get upstairs!). We see an escalator, but it is going to the airport line, so we walk along the platform and climb the stairs. Outside we walk along the street, and on the way see escalators to the station, and wonder why we didn’t spot them early, then see the Airport line sign. Bugger, why don’t they have a sign indicating it is an exit to Athinas St as well. We are not sure how long the walk to the backpackers will take, but from the progress we are making it isn’t too far. We sit down at a bus stop, have a drink and eat a banana, and the going is a bit easier from there. We are heading for a main street marked on the map, and while waiting to cross an alleyway Tony realises this is the one we are looking for, here already, great, and 25 metres down the road is the backpackers. Cynthea thinks we have been by this way the first time we were in Athens, Tony doubts that as we were not in the area.
At 7.30am we don’t expect to be able to check in, but they do a quick check, and yes we can in about half an hour, no extra charge. The guy behind the desk says we look shagged, yeah, about sums up how we felt. He just needed a few minutes to sort things and we could go straight up, lucky us we are on the first floor. Well the second floor, but the first floor has the luggage room, so that doesn’t count. Actually, yes it does, especially when there are no lifts!
The hotel reception is narrow and pokey, with two computers at desks for the guests. Tony mentions that they said on the website there was WiFi, ah, yes, there is, you just log into one called Thompson! We haven’t got our own WiFi set up yet, he is told. Two flights up a narrow staircase is our room, four bunks, a hand basin and a writing desk. The place is clean but in need of proper maintenance, the paintwork is a real joke as they have obviously had to do some touching up at some stage, it barely matches. Toilets and showers are at the other end of the hall. There is one shower, the door opens into a changing room, and two showers beyond that. We look for the signs that tell ya if it is the boys, or the girls, but there isn’t one.
We crash for three hours, have our fruit and then grab the guidebooks to see where we should go. Pretty much all of it is in walking distance. There is a walking tour available (EUR25), but with the books we have we should be able to sort it ourselves. Looking out the window Tony spots a number O49 bus, Cynthea was right, we came down here on that bus to the port.
The area is certainly busier than at 7.30am, a lot of traffic about. Around the corner are the local markets. Fresh fruit and veg, spices, meat, fish, it is all here. We have a kebab and pita, and then head down the hill to Monastiraki Metro. There is an impressive view of the Acropolis high on the hill, and for the first time Cynthea realises how much climbing there is. She wants to take a taxi when we go there, but it is all pedestrian.
It is getting very warm, and we have been told not to try to go there at this time of the day, so we look at the ruins down on the flat. But first we find the flea market and wander through the alleyways next to the metro. Not too crowded, but plenty of people all the same. The tourist season is under way at last.
We sit in the square and munch through a bag of strawberries from one of the nearby fruit stalls, and head off to look at some of the ruins around the area, Hadrians Library and the Roman Agora. We take few photos today, having seen many similarly impressive restorations in Turkey. We have had our exercise for the day, and head back to the room, we grab bread, meat, cheese, tomatoes and cucumber for tea, and fruit for breakfast from the market.
Two girls have checked in while we were out, but they are not in the room. We check our emails and there is a message from another couchsurfer from Argentina. They too had trouble finding a bed here for the night, and have left their bags in lock up at Larissa Station, and plan to crash there for the night. Not a good area to do that. They want to meet up for coffee, and tell us they have no food. We send a message back, but it is getting late, we tell them we have food, bring beer. We don’t get a reply until the morning, they had been kicked out of the station, and had no internet. They spent the night on the streets until 4am, when a coffee bar opened and they could at least get inside out of the cold (not that it seemed that cold to us). We had door step sandwiches for tea, yum. There are no restrictions on alcohol sale here, or so it seems. Every street kiosk, takeaway bar, café, restaurant and supermarket sells alcohol, (beer and spirits).
The Aussie girls sharing our room get back to the room about 11, they tell us they are relieved we are not 19 year old boys who want to drink vodka all night, and they are in for an early night.