Things I really liked about our trip to Athens:
- I never had to ask for tap water in restaurants. Servers immediately put out carafes of water and glasses when you sit down.
- The Acropolis. Sure it’s full of tourists, but that’s because it’s worth seeing. Even covered in scaffolding and missing the cool parts, the Parthenon‘s symmetry and size are beautiful. And if you go on Sundays during the winter, it’s free admission.
- The festive atmosphere in the Gazi district on a Saturday night. It’s like being back in college – everyone’s headed to the Gazi for a party night.
- The Athens metro system. It’s clean and fast and – at .80 euros a ride – cheap. Come to think of it, transport generally was inexpensive.
- The Art Hotel. It’s close to the Omonia metro stop; the rooms are clean and comfortable; and the staff really really want to be helpful. I’ve never gotten so much reliable and interesting local advice from a hotel, ever. And did I mention the free coffee and tea all day? And the wi-fi? And we paid 80 euros a night.
Things that were eh about our trip to Athens:
- The weather. In January, it’s 50 degrees F on a good day. And it turns out that there’s not much cafe culture going on when it’s 50 degrees. Our slogan for the weekend was “this would be really nice if the weather were warm.”
- The National Archaeological Museum. I’ll admit this is probably just me. There were just so many antiquities jumbled in there that I lost track of what made one marble statue different from another. I’m just hopeless without an audiotour. And the giftshop in the basement looks so sleek and modern that I can’t help but wonder why the Museum didn’t spend that money sprucing up the exhibition rooms, rather than on the gift shop/cafe. OK, I’m kidding. I know exactly why they made that decision.
- Pireaus Port. That’s one seriously ugly port town. I guess that’s the price you pay when a gazillion massive ferries chug in and out of the harbor every day.
- Greek coffee. Greek coffee is served with the coffee grinds in the cup. I’m not skilled enough to avoid drinking the grinds when I take a sip.
- The Freaking Lack of Water at the EasyJet terminal at the Athens airport. You can’t bring water through security, of course, and you can’t buy any water once you’re past security. And then you’re on the four-hour flight back to London; £1.50 buys you a minibar-sized bottle of water; and the airline ran out of bottles of water halfway through the flight. The dehydration was torture.