We rolled off of the ferry at 8.30am, surprisingly, right on time. Things were going well we thought, until we hit the streets of Athens. Within 3 minutes we had nearly been in 3 accidents. Athens is a place where nobody gives anybody any respect on the road. Even the old lady with her walker is willing to fight for her right to tarmac. We had a quick map check and took the time to readjust our driving style, it seemed that offence was the best defence and around half an hour later we had made it to our Airbnb unscathed. Few.
We weren’t too sure what to expect from the Airbnb, obviously we had looked at the photos but just before getting on the ferry in Kos we received a dubious message “Sorry, I thought the instant book was switched off…” that was all we could see as we were out of wifi at the time but over the course of the next few hours we managed to come to an arrangement. Basically, the hosts mother (Olga) was now living in the house and we could share with her with a 50% discount or find something else. As we did book with very short notice we were more than happy to take the discount and to take a chance on Olga..!
We arrived to a welcome breakfast of rose jam on toast with ginger tea and thought to ourselves: “hmm its nice to get a meal included with an Airbnb”. Over the course of the next three days Olga made us: A greek salad lunch, a mushroom omelette breakfast, cheese pies, lentil soup, veggie spaghetti and snacks. She gave us fresh juice, made us traditional Greek coffee and as she knew we liked ginger tea there was permanently some on the stove. I think she liked us because the food must have cost more than we paid in Airbnb fees..! She gave us the location of the best local souvlaki restaurant (where we had souvlaki galore for €2.50 each), went shopping for Trangia fuel for us and even helped us find the Triumph dealer. In short, we were well looked after and I would say Olga is THE best Airbnb host ever, in the world, ever!
In fact, Athens was very friendly in general. I would love to say our main reason for stopping there was the Acropolis, the museums or the Parthenon but what we really wanted/needed was a service for the Bonnevilles. (We had at this point done 6000 miles since the UK and had planned for a 5000 mile round trip..!) We pulled up to the Triumph dealership and got talking to the mechanic. They were great and did everything they could to get the bikes looked at. They started with ‘we’re very busy and can do it in seven days time’, we explained that we could afford to stay three days in Athens and 10 minutes later the guy was spending his lunch break servicing my bike..! oops. All I had to do was give him €100 and let him take it for a spin around the block. When that was all sorted we arranged a time for Nea’s bike the next day but ‘only because we had ridden from England’! Finally it was paying off.
As we had some time and the dealership is a stones throw from the Acropolis, we checked that out too. I learned that Acropolis means ‘top of the city’ and decided it was a perfectly acceptable name for the place. The view is incredible, you can see the whole plain of Attica. In the museum we learned how Lord Elgin did the standard ‘Brit abroad’ and raped the parthenon for all it had. Actually there is a letter from Elgin to his deputy with a quote telling him to ‘leave no stone unturned and miss no opportunity to pillage whatever you can from the area’. After breaking some bits, stealing others and declaring the whole lot as ‘stones of no particular value’ on his customs declaration the Right Honourable Lord Elgin sold his collection to the British Museum for £35000. I imagine this was quite a lot of money in the early 19th century and it was, of course, funded by the British tax payer. I honestly don’t know whether to laugh or cry at most of Britain’s empirical history but thats another topic all together. If you do want to see the Parthenon in all its glory you are better off going to London as I think they have more original pieces there. Just kidding.
The time came to finally leave Athens and we plotted a course for Meteora via a quick detour to the Temple of Poseidon (which actually took all day and is also highly recommendable). In general, Greece has been one of the most friendly countries we’ve visited in a long time and we are keen to come back as soon as possible!