Having spent a peaceful couple of nights in the mountains we decided to head back to the hustle and bustle of the city. So we meandered down out of the hills and took a long and winding route via the coast to Athens.
A friend had advised before we took this trip ‘Don’t drive in Athens’. I though ‘How bad can it be? I’m sure it I’ll be fine?’ We were soon to find out…..
We had arranged to drop our hire car off at a city centre office about half a mile from our hotel for the next two nights, The New Hotel. I’d naively assumed that as parking was available at the hotel we would be able to drop our cases there and check in before taking the car back. Ummm nope!
We found the hotel relatively easily, although the traffic got more and more manic as we headed further into Athens, but after darting into the side street next to the hotel and circumnavigating it through even more tightly packed streets we had no idea where the hotel car park was. Slightly stressed by this point we decided to head straight to the car hire place and figured we could get a cab back to the hotel with our cases. Again we found it relatively easily, but again there was no obvious place to park the car we were supposed to be returning. The office was basically like a shop front in the middle of a very busy street. With cars beeping behind us we panicked and darted up the next side street we could find. We were now stuck in a one-way system that took us right passed the Acropolis entrance, we ended driving round in a massive loop back to a road down the street from the hotel!
Even more stressed by now, we spotted a small multi storey car park and decided to ditch into there to at least give us 15 minutes to check into the hotel. So we did just that! After enjoying the air con, a glass of fresh ice cold water and a welcome chocolate we were checked in and contemplating how to return the hire car. We headed back to the multi-storey and handed in our parking slip to the bemused attendant who had literally parked the car for us 15 minutes earlier. I was seriously considering offering him €20 to drive the car the half mile for us, but we’d decided we would just have to drive round there and get the hazard lights on and ditch it. Which is exactly what we did. The extremely nonchalant guy at the rental office gave the car a very cursory glance over before letting us head off, hot and bothered and very relieved. So the moral of the story is…… DON’T DRIVE IN ATHENS.
Very much in need of a drink by now we returned to The New Hotel to explore a little. The hotel was designed by the Campana Brothers and the reception area and coffee room are decorated all over with pieces of broken furniture that remained from the old hotel.
And the best feature of the hotel? The rooftop bar and restaurant with views over the whole city and of course, The Acropolis. So we headed straight up there to chill and relax with a cocktail or two…
Not wanting to waste the late afternoon getting tipsy (although that was pretty appealing), we decided to head across the road to explore the Temple of Olympian Zeus. The temple is right in the centre of the city and is larger than the Parthenon, but less complete. It was pretty quiet when we arrived so we were able to get some great pictures. And the best bit is that the ticket costs €12 but also gets you entry to several other sites including The Acropolis and Ancient Agora. Bargain!
And our second wild tortoise of the trip…
After a little bit of a stroll around and getting our bearings, we decided to head back to the hotel for a refreshing shower to get ready for dinner. I really wanted to check out the rooftop restaurant and watch the sun go down over the vast city. So we did! And I have to say the view was amazing and the food pretty spectacular too!
I opted for a traditional Souvlaki…
Mr O went for a not so traditional burger!
Both were delicious and perfectly cooked. My souvlaki had a perfect charred flavour and was fast becoming the best meal of the holiday so far.
As we planned our hectic day of sightseeing, we chilled on the rooftop with a glass of wine, loving the view of the Acropolis and watching the sun set over another fabulous day.