Have spent the past few days exploring Athens. We had planned a walking tour of Athens yesterday, however it was raining heavily, so went to plan B & hopped a cab to another bike shop out of town, that Span found on the net. Have pretty well decided upon the jackets we want; they are a Macna 4 season type and will be about $200 less than we would have paid in Melbourne… Gotta be happy about that.
Today we did a hop on / hop off bus tour of the city & Port Piraeus (the main port of Athens) which is where we will pick up the bike.
Athens is a remarkable city, so complex. There are so many historical sites/ ruins that are scattered throughout he city streets & amongst buildings, parks, or simply partially excavated & fenced off.
The people are, on the whole very friendly, however one has to have ‘ones wits about one’ at all times, when dealing with money. You need to be very aware of the amount you have given, & we have developed a habit of saying how much we are giving when transacting.
There are fruit laden orange trees lining most streets, so very pretty. We are told it is OK to pick, if you can reach & they are not in private property. There are dogs a plenty – mostly bigger dogs & they seem older as well. They just walk along with the pedestrian traffic or lie anywhere they please. Most have collars with numbers on them and all well fed, indeed they are quite fat. They do look somewhat bored however & enjoy a pat!
Pigeons are everywhere, and we have seen one elderly gentleman (resplendent in suit & tie), sitting on the same bench each day, with his bread feeding them. Graffiti is everywhere – have never seen a city with so much. Very disrespectful of some the older building & monuments. There is very little litter, however the city does look tired & grubby which aligns with Greece’s financial situation. The walkways (on the whole) are in terrible condition, very broken & cracked – trip hazards at every step, that keep us alert at all times.
Traffic is a treat to behold!!! Vehicles literally park any where there is a spot available on the street or pavement, & at any angle; double, even triple parked… just amazing. Seems the rule of thumb is that so long as traffic can flow, you can park any where. Traffic is very squeezy & how the bus drivers get through is nothing short of amazing & breath taking at times. Bikes & scooters are prolific, & PPE is not mandatory – it is strange to see so many scooting past with ‘the wind in their hair’. Given the high traffic density & squeezy… squeezy, there are few dented or bent cars. They are grubby, but straight.
Throughout the city there are so many buildings (new & old) that are in varying states of repair /disrepair – scaffold abounds. Some look like they have been in the repair stage for along time, as if they have run out of money or interest….. or both, and many are empty. There are antiquities in the midst of high rise buildings, & likewise small churches in the middle of & even under modern buildings – quite amazing. There are lots of city squares, all named after someone of importance.
The Royal Olympic Hotel (where we are staying) is in a brilliant location & within walking distance to most things .. and trust this little black duck… we have been doing lots of walking!! We have a magnificent view of Olympia, the Acropolis & Pathenon when we have breakfast – how lucky we are! We have a great breaky (included in our stay) & usually take an orange and a hard boiled egg to eat through the day or for tea (cheap skates!) Thoroughly enjoy our afternoon coffee & cake!!!. No kettle in the room, so missing the adhoc cuppas… tough gig!
There are lots of men just sitting around smoking, talking etc & twirling their worry beads. In fact most people seem to be smokers, & there seem to be few restrictions on smoking anywhere.
Came across some ‘fantastic electrical wiring’ in a pole in the middle of the street, you don’t see that everyday !!
Australia’s world cup win and Michael Clarke’s retirement has been in the headlines a lot.