We had been checking the latest advice on Athens and decided that Monday was the best time for us to visit; the public transport strike was no longer in effect and the weather while overcast and cold seemed determined to stay dry. We rolled up to Camping Athens at 9am, a strategy which we’ve adopted since it means if we only spend one day in the city we only need to stay one night, tight gits that we are. Despite check in being 12pm we were greeted enthusiastically and took up a pitch in the large campsite with only four other vans present. The information we were given included excellent directions to the nearest bus stop and from there to the Metro Station to take us into the capital, an 24hr day ticket costing €4 each valid on busses, trams and the metro.
We disembarked at the Acropolis and couldn’t find any obvious information with regards to entrance tickets; it transpires that a ‘ticket’ costs €12 which comprises of 8 tokens to get you into the various ancient sites. It is possible to buy a single ticket and use it for two people for entrance to 4 sites, but of course they don’t tell you this and it is only after the event do you see people doing it! The tickets are also undated and appear to be valid indefinitely.
We always try and visit a high attraction first as it gives you a good vantage point and allows you to get your bearings. We like to work out if you really need to use public transport to get between points or if you can simply walk as we prefer. The obligatory scaffolding was in situe around the towering Acropolis and large cranes obscured the best photo opportunities but it was never the less an impressive site to see both looking up to and from above looking down over Athens sprawling out beneath you.
Given the timing of our visit I suspect you might be more interested in what we saw pertaining to the unrest and subsequent riots that have been reported in the days following our visit. The first most noticeable factor that all is not well was the amount of rubbish piled up on the streets and bins overflowing everywhere with the obvious stench that this creates.
Many of the tourist sites seemed to us quiet and the restaurants and Taverna’s seemed deserted here as they have done elsewhere in Greece for this time of year, there certainly wasn’t the mixture of foreign accents that we’re used to hearing in capital cities by now. There were pockets of riot police in and around the streets and while we did see a gathering of 1-200 people in Syntagma Square chanting we didn’t see any real unrest or significant police presence or disruption.
Even the ‘Lookie Lookie’ men were feeling the pinch, with great lines of them selling their fake Louis Vuitton handbags from sheets laid out on the pavement right in front of Police and other reputable designer shops. There were plenty of other shops rife with fake Ray Bans and other goods which weren’t on show to this degree in the tourist areas of Romania or Bulgaria so I’m not sure why Greece thinks it can flaunt counterfeit goods to this degree.
We heard some of the tourist site staff telling people that there may be a tourism strike called tomorrow (Tues) which sealed our already forming opinion that we would only allocate one day for Athens. I think we’d like to re-visit once things have returned to normal and see the flea market in full swing and perhaps spend longer exploring the vibrant city but there were too many factors against us on this occasion.
We finished off the day with a visit to an Indian Restaurant imaginatively named Indian Masala which was only our second this trip, the other being in St Petersburg, Russia. Adam enjoyed a red hot chicken Vindaloo while Sophie opted for a Lamb Khari with rice and Naan – both cooked to perfection before our eyes and coming to a reasonable €29 in total.
Just a handful of various other photos we took throughout the day ....