Onwards to Athens
19.03.2012 - 22.03.2012
After driving from Bansko into Greece past goat herders and dusty olive groves, dreaming of sunny villages we were dropped in the hazy, bustling Thessaloniki to find a massive city with huge apartment buildings bearing over each other, competing for the sunlight. We stayed overnight to recharge our batteries and a have a quick look around. Dinner was at a charming little tavern down the road from our hostel, which our bubbly receptionist gave us a translation of a few of the items on the menu, as no one spoke english down there. The atmosphere with brilliant, charged with Greeks toasting over carafes of raki. We picked out a few dishes of feta, mushrooms and meatballs, everything was delicious for our first taste of Greek food, washed down with the obligatory raki.
We then caught the sleeper train to Athens which we both thought was going to be a nice spacious affair until we realised that seats were allocated, we were in the wrong seats in the wrong cabin, and we were to squeeze in side by side touching knees with the person across from you, AND had to leave our bag in the hallway cos there wasn't enough room. AAAArrrrRggGHhHH!!, worst ride ever!!.
Arriving just before the sun was coming up we headed for the Acropolis, as we had a bit of time on our hands (two HOURS) before it opened, and wondered around the vicinity, making friends with the local stray dogs. By the time we got to the front gate, we had six dogs following; two scouts, three private guards, and one bringing up the rear. As we approached the Acropolis we saw the no dogs sign, and after a weak effort of gesticulating that they were not ours we waved on through, realising the Greek translation was probably more along the lines of "only local stray dogs, that befriend strangers and chase motorbikes and cars are allowed admittance." Though the dogs were more interested in sunbathing than sightseeing.
The parthenon was pretty impressive, but almost as impressive was the view of Athens sprawling in every direction and the feeling that you're standing in the very heart of it all. It ran as far as the eye could see in a geometric mess that weaved the city together.
We spent much of our time in Athens exploring the ruins and snacking on souvlaki, a kebab like snack, filled with fatty meat, chips and a smudge of salad for good measure. As a cheap meal they're brilliant, but we got sick of them pretty quickly.
It gets a little hard to appreciate the ruins after a while as they're absolutely everywhere, and some require a lot of imagination to picture what they used to look like, but there are probably a few archaeologists out there who go crazy for the stuff.
The days were starting to get pretty hot, so we were looking forward to exploring the islands on our return from Egypt. And maybe some more souvlaki & raki.