Lorna and I were looking forward to Athens. Especially since we’d had to first catch a train from Montenegro to Belgrade in Serbia, then a flight from Belgrade to Athens. The flight was a weird one though. As we were preparing to land, with the landing-gear being deployed, I saw at-first one black-streak flash by my window, as I was looking directly out over the engine. A few seconds later I saw two more flashes zoom past the engine. I couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened if one of the birds actually went into the frickin’ engine?!

Anyway. That didn’t happen. A higher-power must have been keeping watch because no birds were turned into mince-meat, mid-air, and we landed safely. A little wobbly, but we did land.

Athens airport is huge and it took us a while to figure out what bus to catch to Plaka, the suburb we had chosen to stay in. We were going to catch the metro, but they decided to go on strike that day. Strikes are common and debilitating in Athens. I was told that when the local Athenians get angry at a situation, they band together and strike or protest and most of the time get good results. This makes sense to me, because although powerful corporations and governments exist around the world, they are no match for the power of a lot of people standing against them if they’ve screwed up. People-power in mass will always win. Remember that.

Eventually we got the bus close to Plaka, but still had trouble locating our exact destination. We just couldn’t get our bearings together and, Athens is not small, and, the street signs are in Greek, of course, which are impossible to read if you don’t know Greek. It’s hard to get around. We ended up hailing a taxi and handing him the street directions.

Although we were overwhelmed with the vast landscape of buildings and roads when we were first making our way, Plaka was a pleasant surprise. The roads were tighter, prettier and lined with shops, restaurants, bars and hotels. Plaka looked accommodating and alive, compared with the journey from the airport.

Accommodation in Athens turned out to be quite expensive on the internet. Lucky for us we didn’t plan on spending much time in the room anyway, so we decided to book the main hostel in Plaka called The Student and Travellers Inn.

It wasn’t the greatest or cleanest hostel we’ve ever stayed in, but the location was awesome and the balcony overlooked some of the action. One step outside gave you access to everything Plaka had to offer.

Ten-minutes walk and you could visit the main shopping mall of Athens.

Within half-an-hour you could walk to the Acropolis and other ruins.

The Student and Travellers Inn also had an in-house travel agency that booked our on-going ferries to various Greek Islands. They also provided us a personal tour-guide for around $20 for the next day.

Our tour guide rocked up at 10 a.m. ready to . . .  well . . . rock, and his name was Claudia. He was immediately impressed with my Canon EOS 7D and told me his father was a professional photographer and he himself was also somewhat of a gun. At various stops along the way he gave me some useful tips.

Claudia took us to the Temple of Olympius Zeus, which was completed in 131 A.D.

Next up he took us to the Roman Agora, followed by the main Acropolis Sites.

The highlights were the high city and the Parthenon, which is the largest temple ever to be completed in Greece and means, “virgin’s apartment”. Most of the Acropolis sites were built between the years 420 and 480 A.D.

Next up Claudia took us to an awesome little restaurant where we had 4 euro gyros and 2 euro long-necks before wishing us luck for the rest of our travels.

The next day Lorna and I decided it would be a great idea to purchase an expensive and large clock created by a local Athens artist who goes by the name Alchemist.  Because it was a Saturday, we had to take it with us on the bus and ferry to the Greek Island of Crete. The plan is to post it, using the Greek Postal Service, back to Australia. We wrapped it pretty good, but we please ask you to join us in crossing your fingers for the next 8 weeks.

Rob Kaay is an Australian author & musician.

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