Saturday, 29 April 2017

Athens for a week

I have been working my way round cities I had visited in my youth, but out of season and with a bit more time. Seville, Rome, Venice, Naples and now Athens. Athens was only a little out of season as I went out on Easter Sunday.

I had picked the Andromeda Suites as my hotel. I rather like these apartment hotels. Feel like being in a flat, but with all the service of a hotel. I was quite happy being a little way out of Central Athens. About a 45 minute walk to the main sights, although there is a nearby metro, so if you want you can get in much faster and at little effort. Or indeed expense as journeys are only 1.40 euros.

I certainly have no regrets about my choice of stay. I had a nice comfortable bedroom

 and a spacious living room

and a clean and neat bathroom (although a small bath even for a short person, but most people shower anyway)

 The kitchen area was minuscule compared to other such places I have been to, but frankly I only wanted a fridge so I wasn't bothered. But, the one catch was it was noisy. Not in the way you expect with street noise, as it was on a very quiet street. The problem was my rooms were just off reception, and so anyone chatting in reception sounded like they were in my living room.

Reception was plush (OTT), if dark.

As I say, it was bit of a way north of Central Athens. The only neighbouring building of note was the American Embassy.

 Walking into Athens, as i did on my first and most other days, one next passed a pleasant park.

 In the distance behind is Lykavittos Hill (which I would visit later)

 You then find yourself in a district called Kolonaki. Basically this is the posh suburb just outside the centre, with big houses and a few museums (some converted out of big houses).

 Best bit  of modern sculpture in Athens that I saw is this huge statue, meant to convey speed. Not generally a fan of modern art, but this is a very fine example.

Amongst the museums is the War Museum. However, given my first walk of the week was on the morning of Easter Monday. it was shut. Like almost everything else.

A bit further on one comes to the Presidential Palace, and attractive neo-classical edifice.

Now I thought a pleasant way of getting to Central Athens would be to cut through the National Gardens. I remember these from my student days as pleasant oasis from the heat. As the temperature throughout my stay was around 20C I didn't need the respite, but they are very nice. Not really what one would think of as gardens - not rows of flower beds, nor any straight lines, but endless curving winding paths. For most people that would be a joy. Indeed it seemed it to me as I headed through the park and seeing what I came across.

Little ponds.
 Botanical Museum (shut)

A small and desperately sad looking zoo. Just goats and birds really.

Oh, and big bunnies

 Some scattered but rather evocative bits of ancient architecture

Including a building with fairly extensive mosaics.

A tortoise. They are native here and saw quite a few of them.

Like London, parakeets have become naturalised

Anyway, after about 20 minutes of wandering around and taking photos I came up to the exit. To find that far from cutting through the Gardens, I had managed to wander full circle and was coming out of where I went in! My famous sense of direction strikes again. I contemplated giving up and circumnavigating the park, but decided it was better to take the plunge again and try a bit harder to work on direction. Still took me ages and there were more distractions. Pleasant ones I might add.

 The biggest lake in the gardens is rather picturesque.

 Well, eventually I escaped and came to the Zappeion to the South of the Gardens. Its an exhibition centre, and one which looks terrifically grand.

 Below is what you find beyond the pillars at the front.Loved this place, from what little one could visit of it.

 In front of it are more formal gardens, which I sauntered through on my way to my first real target for a visit, the Temple of Olympian Zeus.

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