I was so excited to get to Athens, but that was short lived ha! We arrived in Athens just after 4am. We were already tired from our our 10 hour layover in the Barcelona Airport.
Lets strart with the negatives - I booked most of our accomodation via Bookings.com (which for all of it except athens accomodation was great!) I chose to stay at the Achillion Hotel - and from the reviews it was a 4 star hotel only minutes away from Athens city centre with amazing facilities and amenities.
Reality hit - We got out of the Taxi who then told us they dont accept cash (Thank god Dim speaks fluent Greek..) We got out of the cab and looked at this small narrow hotel wedged between to run down buildings. I double checked the address - I kid you not. Nope this was it.
We checked in at the desk and the receptionist mentioned to us that was it 5am and that she had been waiting up all night for us to arrive (possibly, the only guests saying in this hotel lol!) Even though we had called the day before telling her we had an overnight flight and she was okay with our arrival time. So I stood there patiently while she gave the boys a lecture in Greek.
She took us up to our room, the first thing I noticed it smelt like smoke - fresh cigarette smoke. First glance the room looked okay, and then we turned on the lights. Holy Hek this was nothing like the photos on the website. We weren't going to be fussy because we were tired and just wanted to sleep. Jumped straight into bed and within 5 minutes D was outta that bed.. Bed Bugs I kid you not. I called Bookings and they spoke with the receptionist - I wanted a refund and was scanning the area for other hotels. This was not worth the money we had paid for it.
I had a little freak out - When the sun came up and this was the view. Yeah.
There was a knock on our door and it was the hotel manager who wanted to know what our "issue" was. I explained to her that this was nothing like the hotel was represented on their website and we weren't happy with the state - She then told us that she only posts the photos of her best room on the internet. (What the!) That room was already booked so she took us to another floor and showed us another room. It wasn't much better but it was clean and didn't stink. We only had one more night so we just accepted it - mainly because she refused our refund.
Besides the accommodation drama - Athens was nice.
We were only in Athens for 2 days before heading inland to visit some family
Like other cities we also jumped on the Hop on Hop off Athens > Piraeus bus which took us past most of the sights. We jumped off at Piraeus which is breathtakingly beautiful and got some lunch.
The food in Greece - Sensational.
Lunch with a view. The water was so clear and beautiful.
No words can describe how beautiful Athens is by night time. We went to the Roof top bar A For Athens for a few drinks and looking down on the Parthenon - Amazing.
The next morning we caught a plane from Athens to Thessaloniki as we went to visit the village that the boys dad and grandparents lived in before making their move to Australia.
Note: Never fly with Ryanair again lol.
We were told the place we were going to the where his great yiayia lives is small with about 50 people. I didn't really believe it until we got there! I had never seen anything like it before. Its a little village outside Kozani wedged in between mountains and a massive lake in the middle - at night time the lights from the little villages along the river shone down onto the water and it looks phenom.
In true Greek style we had the biggest feast waiting for us. It brought a tear to my eye when the boys got to meet their great yiayia again - the last time she saw them was 20+ year ago.
While it was quiet words cant express how beautiful it was! Just standing there and only hearing birds was the most amazing feeling. it was so quiet and peaceful. We stayed one night with his great Yiayia and then the other two nights with some other family members.
How white we were before we hit the islands!
We headed back to Piraeus after 4 days inland to get ready for the islands.
We had a day to kill and there was H&M on the corner street of our hotel. I told the boys to leave me for a good hour and got up close and personal with H&M. I hadn't been to the one in Melbourne yet, I dont have time for those massive lines.
Athens was nice - It was really just a stop over before visiting family inland and hitting up the islands. We came back to Athens again after the islands which was far more exciting and those stories are to come.
Next stop MYKONOS!