We arrived in Athens after an eight-hour ferry journey, the day after the bail-out referendum. The word "oxi" (no) was spraypainted everywhere and the mood was very sombre indeed. It didn't help that it was 35 degrees in the shade. At dinner time.
Everything seemed to be closed, and in an act of rebellion the Metro decided not to charge anyone for tickets "due to the current situation". We managed to find our apartment with a paper map and sheer willpower (I left my phone in Santorini, and James drowned his). I didn't really want to go back outside because it was horribly, dustily hot.
The apartment we stayed in would not have been out of place in American Psycho. Now, I like minimalism, and Eames furniture, a lot. I thought the poured rubber flooring was very cool, but the absolute absence of colour and soft furnishings just made it feel a little bit cold.
And that chair? It absolutely was not comfortable. Especially in that heat.
It's fun trying to guess whose house you are living in. With AirBNB, often the person pictured in the booking form is not the person who meets you there. We were guessing, given the masculine feel, copies of Frieze art magazine lying around and the gym downstairs, as well as the giant lithographs of nude male silhouettes, that we were staying in a fairly successful male artist's apartment. Or a psycho killer's. You never know.
As soon as we thought we could brave the heat, we went to the train station because our route was supposed to be Athens>Thessaloniki>Sofia>Istanbul. After being told our tickets didn't entitle us to first class (even though they were first-class tickets - confusing, I know) and that it would cost us another 20 euros each for the first leg, we had to examine our life choices. The train was at 6.45am and we had not one alarm clock between us (remember how we lost our phones?). It might not have air conditioning. They wanted us to pay extra for it?! Sack that.
So, we decided to scrap the hotel in Thessaloniki, cash in our Bulgarian Lev for some extra Turkish Lira and fly to Istanbul at the much more sensible time of 2pm.
We thought we better see a bit of Athens so we begrudgingly traipsed up a massive hill to see the Acropolis (there isn't actually an awful lot else to do, as far as we could tell). Ever been to Rome? Well I'm sorry to say, you might find Athens a tad disappointing. I know the Greeks inspired the Romans, but I really felt like they could have done more with either the reconstruction, or the scaffolding, and just the general tidiness of the place. Rome is like this amazing living museum - Athens and the Acropolis felt more like a building site. There were modern stones recarved and mixed in with the old ones, which kind of seems to defeat the purpose of preservation. There was also an ampitheatre they used for concerts despite it looking a bit dangerous, and it seemed like a crass way to commercialise something they are trying to protect.
We weren't really very sad to leave, and maybe it's because it came after Santorini, where we had such an amazing time.. but in any case, goodbye Athens, we probably won't be back. I'm very glad we had one more stop after Athens so we could end our honeymoon on a high!