I had a horrendous sleep, partly due to the neighbor’s light glaring in my face and also in part because I was fretting that I would sleep through the 3:15 alarm. Just tossed and turned for hours.
We woke on time and the taxi was 10 minutes early.
The Ryanair self-check- in terminal were all not operating bar one up the other end of the terminal. Rather than printing all our tickets at the same time with the one booking number like every other airline I have been on so far, I had to register each separate ticket, one at a time. Tedious and annoying.
The flight had no free food and no entertainment which was fine. Because of all the stuffups, we now also had no allocated seats, so the lovely but frazzled steward gave us the back row to wait in till we saw where we were sitting. Turns out they were our seats. At least we didn’t have to move!
The plane taxied out and then accelerated fast. All of a sudden it stopped still. A few moments later they explained that a light was on- registering a plane door being opened even though it was actually shut. They closed it a couple times till the light went off and then it was up, up and away!
We landed in a very calm, friendly environment at the airport.
We stopped at the ticket booth to buy our bus/train tickets in to Athens where we were told that tickets for all public transport are free until next week. Woohoo!!
The trip in was long but uneventful. We passed some long queues at ATMs.
We hopped off at Syntagma to transfer onto the train the rest of the way. Syntagma had police but was calm. I was just grateful that it wasn’t as hot as Rome.
We got off at the closest stop to our accommodation and then walked the rest of the way. It was obvious that our lodgings were not in the nicest part of town and as we walked closer to the destination, we could see more rubbish on the streets and it looked less and less ideal. We got to our road, where there were a lot of men just dawdling on the road. Just standing there, all up and down the road.
But, ahead I could see the colorful and distinct name of our ‘hotel’ with its distinct flags flying.
Yes, it looked like the photo in the website! I marched confidently nay, even proudly forward, feeling good about this.
We crossed the road and entered what looked like a derelict building, dear reader. The bottom floor was a shell of something that used to be. A tiny sign said that reception was on the next floor. We went up. I could recognize the dining room seating from the website. But it was a shell also and there was no one around. Just the reception man. He gave us our key, an air con remote, a TV remote and said ‘ 2nd floor.’
We eventually found our rooms, neither of them on the 2nd floor at all. We were in two separate levels (5 and 5) which I was perplexed by in the light of the ghost town of a place this was and also because of how far in advance I had booked it.
Let me say that apart from the photo with the flags, none of the other photos looked anything like the reality. Speaking of shells, were shell-shocked. The rooms were dingy, with low wattage light bulbs and filthy doonas. The carpets were badly stained and the boy’s room STANK! My bed had no doona at all.
I felt like I was one of the only suvivors in a Zombie apocalypse movie, hiding out in derelict hotel. I have nothing against staying in a zero star place, dear reader, if I come fully aware that it is zero star. I have stayed in worse places for sure. What I do not like is being lied to. The website says 3 1/2 stars (that is youth hostel 3 1/2 stars mind you ) and has photos of a cute, funky youth hostel.
I left everyone to settle in and went foraging for lunch. We had seen tons of cheap yummy-looking food options on the way in. I went back there and got some pastries and drinks.
They were very mediocre, so I was glad they had been cheap.
As we wailed and bemoaned our accommodation that afternoon, I knew that we needed a nice dinner in an ambient location to ease the blow.
I had researched and found an authentic taverna just past the tourist part of Plaka while we were still in Australia. I googled it quickly and the write-ups reconfirmed that it was the right place to give us a great intro to Athens.
It took a little convincing to get a couple of the kids to come along that evening but eventually we were all up and walking outside. It only took two blocks for us to hit a much nicer area with tavernas spilling out into the streets. We walked past very pretty parts of Plaka and then came to our taverna To Kafeniou in a tiny lane. We asked to sit outside.
And then the magic of ambience and good food transformed us from distressed travelers into relaxed happy humans chatting first about the delicious taste sensations and then just everything else. We were intrepid explorers once again!
Bread: some plain, some with olives in.
Eggplant dip and tzatsiki :
Fried hard cheese:
Meatballs with THE Sauce ( I think Jamie Oliver really liked this dish especially)
Potato fritter stuffed with cheese:
Panacotta: oh my very word!!!! I literally could have eaten 5. I had to restrain my self as we were sharing it.
Chocolate Sweet Salami: there wasn’t salami in it. It was a little too sweet. A chocolate, crushed biscuit and nut dish but ok.
At the base of the restaurant:
We wandered back happily and managed to watch a couple of TV shows in English before falling sleepily into bed.0