TRAVELOGUE
Greece

Athens, Pireus

Sun and sea in October 2003, somewhere in Europe? Which better destination than Greek islands? As Lufthansa was offering me free plane tickets for any of their inter-European routes, I decided to fly from Graz in Austria to Athens. That's how it all started...

Welcome to Greece
Welcome to Greece

We landed in Athens in the afternoon and went to find the information booth. We wanted to sail that night to Crete. Some info on boat connections: in Greece there are many boat companies that interconnect numerous islands, but no centralized timetable that would help understand who is sailing where and when. Information on certain companies can be found on various web-sites, but it's often contradictory, or at least difficult to understand and incomplete. The ship timetable will be a permanent problem during our 3 weeks on Greek islands. On the information booth the disinterested employee handed us a photocopy of the day's ship departure list from Pireus (the port of Athens) to all the islands, among them Crete. The departure time of the ship we were interested in corresponded with the info we've already had. A good sign.

As our ship sailed out in the evening we've had the whole afternoon for sightseeing of Athens. As the day was warm we took off some of our clothes and remained in T-shirts. We boarded a bus that will take us to Sintagma, one of Athens' central squares. From the last time I was in Greece euro was introduced. It's much easier to use euro than it was to use drachmas.

As the Olympic Games 2004 preparation was in course, many roads were under reconstruction and the bus was using some new roads to get to the center. The driver managed to hit all the big holes in the pavement. We drove for an hour before we got to Sintagma. Sintagma is, with Omonia and Keramikos, one of three squares that mark the center of Athens. The Greek parliament is located on Sintagma, with funny-looking guards marching like penguins when the guards change takes place.

We've spent the afternoon in the tourist district under Acropolis. When we'd got tired of walking around with our charged backpacks on our backs, we'd have a rest in a shade and order frappe (ice coffee in a tall glass, with lots of ice). Many Greeks drink frappes in hot days like these. Nescafe is on offer everywhere, as well as Turkish coffee, that's called Greek coffee in Greece (guess why!). After few hours of roaming we got in metro that will take us through some poor-looking neighborhoods to the port of Pireus.

Pireus - the port of Athens
Pireus - the port of Athens

And Pireus is not a small harbor. One has to decide here in which direction to go, since it takes about an hour to get from one side of the harbor to the opposite. Numerous private agencies sell boat tickets for certain companies, and for the others they have (or don't want to provide) any information. So it takes to pay a visit to more agencies to gather all the information. Timetables are often shown at the entrances of the agencies. We bought two tickets for Chania (Hania) on Crete. We took a cabin with two berths since we wanted to have a good sleep. Although the boat sailed out at 23:00, we could board much earlier since the boat was moored in the harbor. The boat was really big - 175 meters long! A person at the reception took us to our cabin and we walked for so long that we were afraid we won't be able to find our way back! The cabin was a bit "old" but functional. We took a shower and went to dine in a good self-service restaurant. After the dinner we went for a walk on the deck, from where we observed sailing out of Pireus. And the view from the deck is like the view from a skyscraper, high above the sea level. After sailing out we went back to the cabin and, despite the roaring sound of the motors, fell asleep quickly.

Next page
Greece: Crete (Chania, Elafonisi, Paleohora)
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