I blog when I go abroad, and occasionally when I do stuff in the UK too. There's a nicer interface over here.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Whoops Acropolis

Blogging is so much easier now I have a keyboard for my iPad. However, it beomes harder again when I lean back on the headboard of this bed only to discover it's not a headboard, but the wall, and as I lean the bed rolls forward away from it. Gah.

Yeah, in - well, on - bed at just gone 3pm Friday. But I have, like, done stuff.

Didn't go to the bar last night after all. Watched a bit of BBC World and then kipped in pitch darkness for fucking ages. Hell(enic) yeah recreational sleep. Woke up about 8am and laid around listening to iPlayer 'til finally getting up just in time to make it down for breakfast. I hadn't remembered ordering a room which came with breakfast but am very glad I did.

Mind you, it was pretty ropey. The room in which it's served is next to the pool - one of the least attractive propositions ever, given the continued grim, bleak, rainy weather. The whole city was covered in fog and cloud. The scrambled eggs were nice, as were the meats and orange juice but Jesus Christ the olives smelt DISGUSTING. Also had a bowl of fruit and yoghurt, which I believe counts as legit tourism.

Having seen the city sightseeing bus leaflet at reception yesterday I figured I'd ask them where the stop was. As it goes they sold me a ticket for the dual tour (there are two routes) and the stop is just up the road, with the bus due to leave in just under 10 minutes. Whoa! Thankfully I'd brought all my stuff with me to breakfast so set off out in the pissing awful rain, trying to keep my feet on the slippery pavements - where there were pavements, that is. They disappear every few yards and occasionally reappear on the other side of the road. Meh.

Got to the stop at the exact same time as the bus. Took a seat downstairs, even though they'd put the covers on upstairs I figured it would still be quite wet up there. Plugged the headphones in and settled back for a tour of Athens.

The tour has mutltiple themes running through it. Athens is full of old shit; they invented democracy and drama; they love sport; every single stop is a fantastic place to get off and do stuff on hot summer days. That last one was rammed home so much I almost stopped enjoying the bleak, off season misery painted on everyone's faces.

There's a funicular railway up a hill, which I might seek out tomorrow. Some excavations during the building of the metro led them to find even more ancient stuff, as if they haven't got enough, and that's pretty cool. Like Crossrail and that. Went past the big hitters - Syntagma square, parliament (complete with protestors opposite), the national gardens, this incredible old panathenaic(?) stadium, tomb of the unknown soldiers - of which I got precisely no photos. Most of the windows downstairs on the tour bus are impossible to see through, and anyway the weather was bleak and etc. I made notes both of what I was learning and where I might want to get off on a subsequent circuit, if the weather gets better.

At one point they mentioned a site where Paul - biblical Paul, that is - proselytized to a tough crowd of philosophers, stoics, and epicureans. Pick your audience, man. And in one part of town they made an explicit "yeah, looks shady, but try not to be scared" point. There was an Irish bar near there. Hmm.

During one long gap between stops they do a bit of spiel about how City Sightseeing is all over the world, you can get a 10% discount on future tours with today's ticket, and then list off some of the exciting amazing places you can do these tours. Their very first example is Blackpool. Later on, Norwich. Um. Really.

At Syntagma Square, second time, we were shunted from one bus onto another so I took the opportunity to sit upstairs in the wet and cold. We went past Hadrian's Arch and they said, um, something in the vicinity took 637 years to build. Bloody hell. And then, after that, we reached the stop where I'd got on, at the Acropolis. The weather hadn't got any better so, fuck it, I'm clearly not going to do any of those other places so I might as well do the one nearest my hotel.

Turns out the whole Acropolis/Parthenon thing is fucking fantastic. €12 to get in and it's this vast site full of ruins and aceness. I had it mostly to myself, only a handful of other hardy resolute fools braving the rain which was coupled with quite an annoying wind, what with being up top of a hoofing great hill. Most people fought with umbrellas, because they're idiots.

As I left the Parthenon to explore the rest of the complex, about 200 people arrived on some tour. I think I photobombed nearly everyone's first two pics. I had to stand and just chill for a bit as they just got to the top of some steps and crowded there so no-one could get past. It wasn't even the place with the best view, nor most room. GET OUT OF MY WAY.

Eventually got past them and then headed down to the Dionysus Theatre. Having now seen it I think Dionysus is Greek for "Dave the Precarious", what with it being totally bonkers steep, flanked by slippery paving and landslips. Took a bunch more photos of old stuff. The rain had actually largely disappeared, but it was still very dark and ominously cloudy. Some statues were made in the 4th C BC. That's pretty fucking old!

Bought a very very cheap bottle of water and wandered back to the main complex towards the exit, during which walk I had my ticket checked by a lass at a gate. By doing this, she seemed to make the stray cat next to her very very angry and demand a lot more attention. Back out and to this other marble bit of ruins just outside the ticket area and a set of stray dogs were following one couple who clearly had a very nice smelling bag. Soon after they disappeared a shitload of dog barking echoed around the area. Suspicious.

Back to the bus stop, well timed for the second tour of the day. My ticket is valid for 48 hours on two routes, one around Athens and one out to Piraeus, the main port. So having done the former I figured I'd do the latter. A group of Australian tourists were getting off my bus and asking for help with getting to some address, by asking repeatedly what area they should put in their GPS. "Athens. Put Athens" "But our GPS won't accept Athens". And to think they were trying to find out how to get to where their hire car is waiting...

The Piraeus tour started off in surprisingly intelligent fashion, wielding the words "vicissitudes" and "capricious" in the first couple of minutes. But that was really the most interesting thing about the tour. We drove along a motorway, passed Olympiakos's stadium and a bunch of 2004 summer olympics venues and about 100 massive strip clubs.

In Piraeus there was an English bar and Irish bar near the main cruise terminal but I chose not to get off. Then regretted it, but, no matter. Piraeus is a giant port with 40km of working coastline, plus a couple of nice (in the summer, etc etc) beach and port resorts on the way back. Also branches of Natwest and RBS. What?

Throughout that second tour the rain had started to really come down again. Back at the Acropolis I was thinking how badly situated my hotel is for going out on the sauce, but maybe that's not such a bad thing. What is a bad thing is that I'm fucking starving, and can't decide which of "Whoops Acropolis" and "Acropolis Now" makes for the better blog post title. Having come back to the hotel to write this and therefore solve the latter problem, I guess it's about time I sought some solids.

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