We really saw little of Athens. We arrived at 0900 sleep deprived, and crashed at The Metropolitan Hotel.
The descent into Athens under gray clouds had a strong feel of deja vu, one we would have most of the trip. Our minds were constantly searching for where is it in California we are flying (sailing) into? One thing notably different from California was the colors of the structures. Athens is clearly built from the materials surrounding the city. And the colors of limestone, pumice and basalt where everywhere. White, red and black and their mixtures are the natural palette Hellas’ many builders worked from.
The airport, built for the 2004 Olympics, was bright and shiny. Since tourist season was essentially over, it was also empty. Customs and immigration clearance was instant, and we were very happy to see our name on a driver’s waving card.
The drive into Athens proper was depressing. A blight has descended here (and throughout the Med/Europe) — Graffiti. It is everywhere. There is no respect for property, antiquity, or safety. And it isn’t limited to the outer margins of the city. Our driver was freezing in the 55 deg F temps, but he really heated up over the topic and apologized constantly.
The hotel was bright and welcoming, As much as we wanted to get right to touring, the minute we sat on the bed, we realized we needed a nap*. The minute we laid back for an hour, we realized it was going to be longer than that. We woke up ready for dinner. Touring would have to wait.
Dinner at L’Avenue was excellent (food, wine, service, decor), and we had the place to ourselves as we showed up at an American hour for dinner vice a Euro one. It made for quiet dining. Portions were nouvelle cuisine x 3, Allowing for the exchange rate, prices were double the US. VAT Taxes on the meal exceeded 30%.
We slept like statues.
The hotel breakfast buffet was very good, and after, we locked up our luggage and headed for the Acropolis Museum. We took a taxi since the hotel cashier said a protest march (Athens has a couple a week) would prevent the hotel shuttle from dropping off and picking up at a useful distance from the museum. The photos that follow capture this wonderful museum (few inside locations allowed photos) and its environs. We didn’t walk up to the Acropolis because of our need to get back to the hotel for transfer to the ship.
* Some travelers don’t like letting the cruise line set up arrival and departure hotels. The principal benefit is once can check in immediately on arrival and one can linger in the room past normal check out as necessary.
Please enjoy the photos. Click on first one to scroll.