I got to the hotel just in time for the tour briefing at 5pm
. Met the guys I am sharing with, both Aussies and in their early thirties. Nice people who hadn't previously met either. There are only 4 single travellers on this tour out of 16; apparently this is unusual to have so many couples, but I am unexperienced with these tours so I’m pretty easy-going with it all. Following the briefing, our tour leader took us up to the nearby square and we had dinner (very average food). Lots of people. We quickly realised that Omonia (the suburb we are staying in) is not the safest place. As we left the hotel to go for this dinner, we literally walked thru the middle of a drug deal in action; smacked out people litter the parks nearby; people shooting up & cops do nothing; prostitutes and dealers in the side alley. And worst of all we saw 3 muggings in broad daylight prior to us leaving for the island tour. Not a suburb I recommend staying, although the hotel is v nice. I call it the Bronx. I’m v disappointed that TopDeck would put us up in such a dodgy and damn right unsafe area of town. Obviously it is cheap, but I would’ve paid $100 more to stay somewhere better...all of us would’ve.
Anyway, I’ll let the photos tell the story of my full day in Athens. It got rained off for a few hrs in the afternoon, but then fined up and with the daylight savings it is great for tourists to have daylight until 9pm. The old Olympic Stadium was my highlight of Athens
. To be honest, I know v little of Greek culture and history. The tour unfortunately has not taught me much of Athens or Greek culture, but I enjoyed the sights and the historic places. Greece has severe economic problems right now and in my view is a basket-case without much hope. I cannot believe it is part of the European Union.
Our tour leader could not join us for the Islands, and all of us were relieved. He was doing the tour leading as a side gig because he cannot find employment in his field of architecture (total unemployment is apparently at 20%). He lacked the passion for tour leading. The new guy is 100 times better.
PS – unleaded fuel is 1.65-1.77 euro cents per litre = $2.28 per litre AUD. Australians complain too much. We really are the envy of the world with the strength of our economy.
Fly Baboo is actually a decent airline and the only one to fly Nice-Athens direct; unfortunately it just has a dumb name that made me feel I was going to crash. I arrived into Athens at 2pm but did not get to the hotel until 430pm...that is how far out of town the airport is and how long it took to get luggage and for the bus to get to the main square in Athens and then I got mega confused trying to find the right subway line. I met a French couple who were heading in the same direction and it was better to be lost with other people than on my own. In the end, it was straight forward and the hotel is easy to find. The navigation is made easy by the street signs all having English subtitles; even at the airport it was easy to navigate. My theory is that the Olympic cities of the world have the best transport and navigation structures/methods.