Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Greece - Athens City

I like being more positive, so I'll write the first half of the blog with things that I enjoyed in Athens. The second part of this post consists of my dissatisfaction of the tour schedule planned by the Indonesian tour agency which I shall not name.

Anyways, I tried to enjoy Athens as much as possible during the free time given (which most of the tour members spent by shopping, and I didn't really care what they wanted to spend their time on as long as they don't disturb me).

We didn't spend so much time at the Parliament because we were told that we would be back again here after our trip to Santorini.

Fortunately, we were just in time to see the Parliament guards changing their shifts. Their uniform is somewhat cute (a skirt!)

My mum and I started walking around randomly around the city without proper guidance (kind of defeats the purpose of paying a tour agency for the service). Whenever I looked at the road signs in Athens, I felt like looking at some random mathematical formula that I could not understand (LOL).

I saw this cute Athens Happy Train. I almost wanted to ride it, but I didn't know how long it would take to loop the route and we only had about less than 2 hours on our own. It's a really happy train, with a happy conductor ;)

I also spotted the Hop-On-Hop-Off sightseeing bus which I almost always took whenever I went to big cities around Europe. We didn't ride it because I knew it would take a lot of time and we would be back to Athens for a city tour again.

My mum was a little shocked to see a lot of graffiti in Athens. She thought this kind of thing only occurs in our home country. Nevertheless, I found a cute one:

And of course, we tried the local food in Athens. It looked like a giant pretzel with sesame seeds on top called Koulouria.

50 cents each. It's quite filling.

It was crunchy and slightly sweet, but what makes it interesting was the fact that the more you chewed on it, the sweeter it became. At least that was how I perceived it.

We made a short trip to Plaka, where its streets are filled with souvenirs and handcrafts. And the "green fairy" Absinthe, which I have not tried and probably will not try for the rest of my life. Plaka was not as scary as our local guide described it, as long as we stay careful of pickpockets.

All in all, I think Athens is quite a welcoming city. Most shops close on Monday, and I still don't know why because there was no explanations whatsoever from tour guides.


Now, the reason for my dissatisfaction? It's all below. Don't bother reading it if you don't feel like reading a series of complaints.

After two long days of travelling on the plane, my mum and I finally arrived in Athens, Greece. We wasted a lot of time waiting: 4 hours in Soekarno-Hatta Airport (the tour agency required us to be there at 10:30 AM, while our flight was at 3 PM), 5 hours in Changi Airport (I don't get why the tour agency didn't book flights later than the ones booked), and then another 3 hours in Frankfurt Airport before finally reaching Athens. Not to mention the long hours of flight. It's definitely not the best planned trip

When we reached the international airport in Athens, we found out that our tour leader and another member of the group lost their check-in luggage, so we spent at least an hour sitting down at the airport doing nothing. We could have left the carousel area to sit down at some cafe outside, but we were left abandoned at the carousel without any shop selling drinks. Oh well, it's not like you can do anything about it. I was just glad that I didn't lose any luggage.

We only had a little bit of time to explore the city. And the first thing the local guide did was to bring everyone to Hermes. They told us not to spend to much time at the Parliament building because we would be back there two days later (which turned out to be a lie). Argh. I went to Athens to do some sightseeing, to see what I haven't seen and to know about a city I haven't been. Not to shop at a store that exists in other parts of the world.

I asked the local guide to show me something that is special about Athens and she could not think of anything, which I think is very weird. She then finally mentioned Hard Rock Cafe and Plaka, but she severely warned us not to go to Plaka because of the abundance of pickpockets in that area. I decided to bring my mum to Hard Rock Cafe instead of doing some useless, random shopping at the Old City. We almost entered Plaka since it was just next to Hard Rock Cafe, but being tourists who know nothing about Athens, we decided to trust the local guide.

Which turned out to be a big mistake because two days after, we went back to Athens again only to find out that the new local guide told us "it's such a waste not to go to Plaka since you're already in Athens".

Man, that was messed up. And this was only the beginning of the disastrous tour.


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