A Life in a Year – 28th August, Athens, a Taxi ride and The Plaka

Earlier in the month some terrorists had threatened to blow up some aeroplanes and had successfully disrupted check-in procedures at all UK airports so security was on high alert but Luton was quite well organised and the extra safety measures weren’t too much of a problem. We had a drink in the bar and Sally and Charlotte bought some sandwiches from Marks & Spencers. After boarding our plane we had a good flight to Athens, I had a gin and tonic of course and that helped pass the time and so did the sudoku. The Easyjet flight was a bit bumpy at times but we arrived on schedule. Well I say arrived on time but that’s a bit of an airline con.  The airlines schedule a three-hour flight to take four, to give themselves a huge margin of error and then claim they made it on time. I’m not complaining though, I like the budget airlines for making all this travel possible.

We collected our bags as they came round on the luggage carousel, left the airport arrival lounge and joined the queue for a taxi. When it was our turn to be directed to a vacant vehicle by the man in charge of allocating transport we gave clear and precise instructions to the driver how to get to the hotel. It was immediately clear that these were not clear and precise enough and he had no idea where he was going and he had to make a number of animated phone calls to establish its location. It was a bit nerve racking being in a speeding car on a Greek motorway in the dark while the driver used his mobile phone to make a phone call with one hand whilst holding a map in the other. Anyway, he eventually sorted it out and we arrived at our hotel without major incident. It cost €30, which was a bit of a rip off but to be fair we weren’t very convincing in our plan to pretend to be familiar with Athens and try to fool the driver into giving us a local’s rate!

The hotel was a very nice place with pleasant staff who gave us far too much information to take in all in one go after a long day travelling but it was situated perfectly right next to the Acropolis and the Plaka and we had a comfortable room but with a bit of a makeshift bed for me; It didn’t really matter very much because suitable compensation was forthcoming in the form of a complimentary bottle of red wine. I opened it and tried it immediately of course and it was drinkable in a Greek sort of way and I made appreciative noises that are exaggeratively appropriate when getting something for nothing. Well, I say for nothing, which wasn’t exactly true of course because the room was quite expensive. We were all very hungry and in anticipation of our first holiday meal we dumped our luggage without unpacking and ventured out into the city streets to find some food.

It was hospitably warm and the Plaka was friendly and inviting, colourful and vibrant and all the tourist shops were open and there were many lively restaurants and bars to select from. After a short walk we choose a pavement taverna on a busy street and Sally & Charlotte wasted no time in ordering their first Greek salad and I had lamb in lemon sauce, which was much nicer than it sounds.  The down side was that there was no Mythos available at this taverna and I had to settle for an Alpha instead, an alternative Greek beer which although inferior was ok.

After dinner we continued to explore the Plaka for a while, the atmosphere was distinctly Mediterranean and we all agreed that we liked being here. We went back to the hotel in a contented mood and I finished the wine, Sally and Charlotte got into their comfortable hotel beds with their freshly laundered sheets and I struggled into my cramped little camp bed, I tossed and turned theatrically a few times to emphasise my inferior sleeping arrangements but on getting no response I fell quickly into a deep and contented sleep.

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