Symi Dream

Living on a Greek island

A Greek island blog from Symi in the Dodecanese islands of Greece. "James’s great talent lies in his careful observation of the absurd and the amusing, the dramas and the difficulties..." Anne Zouroudi.

Symi Dream - Living on a Greek island

Athens Day 2 – The Acropolis Museum

Athens Day 2 – The Acropolis Museum

I could fill a whole page or two with photos from the Acropolis museum and our second day in Athens, but I will try and limit myself. The day, a Sunday, started with a short walk up to the parliament building at Syntagma to watch the Evzones, the presidential guards. “The Evzones or Evzonoi, is the name of several historical elite light infantry and mountain units of the Greek Army. Today, it refers to the members of the Presidential Guard, a ceremonial unit that guards the Greek Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Presidential Mansion in Athens.” [Wikipedia] We were there to see them in their hourly duties, but at 11.00 on a Sunday, they also perform the changing of the guard in a more intricate ceremony.

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By that time, however, we had taken the metro up to the Acropolis museum. The metro, as I’ve said before, is clean, punctual and not expensive. The display pictured below, for example, was at the museum station. There are uncovered ancient ruins in the concourse at Monastiraki station.

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The museum itself (€10.00 entry) is large, well designed and full of history of the Acropolis and Parthenon including a life-size freeze from around the top of that building, discovered artefacts, models showing the development of the area, pottery and even uncovered archaeology still beneath the site. There is a café for a pit stop and a video display where you can sit and rest for ten minutes and watch the history of the place. You’re able to see the Acropolis from the windows. It was still windy outside, so we didn’t venture up to the summit itself, but if you’re planning to do that, or visit the museum, my advice is to go early. We walked straight in, but by the time we left, there was a huge queue.

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After that, we took a walk through Plaka, had lunch and headed back to the hotel for a siesta. Later in the afternoon, we wandered down through Monastiraki and onwards to Thiseio (or Thissio), a neighbourhood bordering the ancient agora at the foot of the Acropolis, and one of my favourite areas in the city. As it was (still) Sunday, the ‘boot fair’ style street market was there, although there are craft and other stalls lining the main pedestrian street every day, and so we spent some time wandering the stalls and checking out everything from antiques to tat and from homemade jewellery to homemade leather-bound notebooks (I resisted as I already have four).

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The walk continued until, before we knew it, we were back at the museum and halfway through a circular route which took us back through the Plaka towards Monastiraki and dinner. We walked six miles that day and ended up at a taverna that was very pleasant, not costly and looked awfully smart. It was all going well until the hostess, Irini, began her nightly routine of teaching everyone ‘kaliiiispeeeera’ and so on, and insisted those punters who wanted to, got up to dance Zorba, including the smashing of ‘plaaaayts’ as two very talented musicians played and sang. It was good fun, though we stayed rooted in our chairs.

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You can have a bit of everything in Athens all in one day.

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Athens Day 1

Athens Day 1

The boat docked at 12.30 right on schedule and, as usual, there was a courtesy bus waiting to whisk away those passengers who didn’t have a car waiting. After being dropped at the main gates, it’s a quick walk across the road and around the back to the metro station. It’s the end of the line, and there was a green line train waiting. They go regularly, and there are boards announcing waiting times and destinations, in English and Greek, plus maps, so it’s easy to see where you need to get to. In my case, it was seven stops to Monastiraki, followed by a short walk to the hotel.

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I checked into my 3-star accommodation and headed down the road for a coffee and a bite to eat as I had two hours to kill before heading to the airport to meet Mother. I’d chosen a hotel not far from Syntagma Square, a short walk to Plaka and Monastiraki, and very handy for the best of both worlds; sight-seeing and shopping. It was on a quiet street (until the roadworks started in the morning), and was decent enough and clean, though nothing glamorous. The main benefits of it were its location and price. There are other, posher hotels around the corner for twice the price, but out of budget.

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I took the underground to the airport, though there is a regular bus service as well. Here’s a tip: If you’re making a short trip in Athens, you can buy a €1.40 ticket which is valid for 45 minutes no matter how many times you change or how far you go, except when the airport is involved. Then, it’s €10.00, as it is to leave the airport and come into town. There are other tickets too, multi trips and daily passes etc., and it’s easy to get them from the machines which are in a variety of languages and come with a charming voice to talk you through the process. The metro is also prompt and clean.

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I’d booked a taxi in advance from the airport back to the hotel by using a site called Welcome Pickups. I’ve used them before and will use them again. You swap details and photos with your driver, so he/she knows who to expect, and you know who to look out for – very safe and reassuring, and Vasilis was there five minutes early. Flight landed, Mother collected, into the car and a sensible, comfortable drive followed with sweets and free water included, plus a Welcome to Athens bag and some tips and ideas from our driver for thing to do.

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Into hotel, out for a walk, dinner, and a walk back and finally, a night’s sleep where I wasn’t sliding up and down a bunk to the tune of the announcements in the corridor. More to follow.

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All Aboard

All Aboard

The next few days will probably be taken up with photos of and chat about my recent trip to Athens, but if I hear of any interesting Symi news, I’ll pass that along too. I know the film festival is still running, but as I’ve only been back a day, haven’t had a chance to get to it. We went to Scena on Wednesday night for some mezethes, and very nice they were too, and well priced. Mother is safely housed at the Village Hotel who were kind enough to meet us from the ferry at five in the morning, saving a long, slow trek up a long slow hill in the ark. But, before all that…

Blue Star Patmos

Blue Star Patmos

Boarding

Boarding

Tilos

Tilos

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Towards the cabin

Towards the cabin

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Last Friday I went to have my teeth thoroughly cleaned and checked by Vasilis the dentist, or one of our dentists, and then, after a light lunch, came home to pack and be ready for my boat at 20.30. As this was the Friday ferry, it went via Tilos and Nisiros, the other Dodecanese islands and Fourni, which is next to Samos. On this trip, going either way, the boat calls into the ports during the night, making it sometimes a bit noisy, what with the vibrations and the announcements and people getting on and off. It’s always fun to watch the organised mayhem from the stern deck.

I woke around five to find the boat hammering through a swell. There had been a storm, and the sea had been left high and choppy. Lurching from cabin to the deck was a little like being drunk but without the expense, and I spent a good couple of hours out the back watching the waves and spray. I have to say, the Blue Star Patmos is very stable, and there wasn’t too much rocking, only the occasional fling across the passageway and sudden slam of bow into water, though some people were finding it tricky to move around the boat, bouncing from breakfast to barf time, you might say.

The next morning

The next morning

Doesn't look as choppy as it was

Doesn’t look as choppy as it was

Another good thing about this route and ferry company is the free bus that is waiting for you at Piraeus. It saves a long walk to the main gates and the metro, which is where I was heading next. More about that next time.