Visit Athens, Greece

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Lauren Stevens's Goal

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On 6th August 2014 at 04:30 I woke up and at 05:13 I left the house to catch 05:40 Star Inn bus to arrive at 05:57 at Reading Station. At 06:22 I caught the train which arrived in London Paddington at 07:10 and I took the underground to Liverpool Street to change trains and at 08:20 I arrived at Stansted Airport Station. My flight was the 11:40 – 17:15 FR15 to Athens. Fatima wasn't due to arrive until 20:20 and her flight was slightly delayed, so whilst I waited I bought something from duty free so I could put any extra stuff in the bag on the way back, looked in the tourist office (which didn't have much information and had run out of English leaflets), had a toasted sandwich and drink and slept. At about 21:00 we took the X95 bus to Syntagma Square (the last stop). We then walked to the Omonoia, where our hotel, Cosmopolit, was closeby. I had a vegetable souvlaki, which like a pitta wrap with vegetables, chips, seasoning and sauce before going to bed.

On 7th August we had breakfast, which was included in the price of the hotel. It was a buffet which included cereal, bread, tea and coffee, juice, natural yoghurt and seasoned cucumbers and tomatoes. Although it was limited, it did seem typically Greek. I called mum for her birthday and then we went out, but we got lost and asking for directions didn't really help, because people kept giving us different directions. We ended up in the industrial area, but eventually we found a tourist area near Acropolis, where I had a Halloumi souvlaki. We went into Ancient Agora, which was free entry because we were both under 26 and EU students. We had a look around the museum and then headed up a massive hill to the famous Acropolis, which was also free entry. Afterwards we got lost again, but came across a nice, authentic restaurant where we had a Greek salad. Eventually we found our way back to the tourist area and we felt tired, so headed back to the hotel where we relaxed and watched TV and I called Maria for her birthday.

On 8th August we had breakfast and walked to Syntagma square (using the map this time). We tried to find somewhere selling cheap ferry tickets but couldn't. We then walked around the national gardens and after we left we saw the presidential mansion and the marching guard. We planned to head to the national gallery, but went the wrong way and ended up at the Panathenaic Stadium. We decided to go in and paid the student price of €1.50, which included a free audio guide. It was a very interesting tour and longer than I expected. Afterwards I felt very tired because it was a lot of effort getting up and down the steps. We then headed to a restaurant called Smile, which was advertised on a free map that Fatima had picked up on the street. I had a tofu souvlaki and 2 diet cans of coke. We headed back to the hotel but got lost, although I found deodorant and sun cream, which I had been looking for. We went to a nearby cafe to find our bearings and eventually took the metro from Acropolis back to Omonoia. We asked about the ferry tickets to Santorini in the hotel, as we had a hotel booked there from 9th-16th (See 'Visit Greek Islands'), but only the expensive ones were available for Saturday, so we decided to go to Santorini on Sunday instead, but had to pay for both hotels on 9th. We then went down the the shopping streets near Syntagma square and had an amazing vegetable crepe. We took the crepe to Pella Inn, a partner hotel of ours with a rooftop bar with stunning views of the Acropolis, which a member of staff at our hotel had recommended to us. I had a watermelon Barcadi breezer with 2 free shots (Fatima doesn't drink so I had hers). We then came back to the hotel and chatted to other guests in the common room and terrace.

On 9th August we relaxed in the morning. We decided to do something chilled for the rest of the day and looked for spa for Fatima. We couldn't find a cheap one, so I suggested that she could find a spa in Santorini or if that fails use the cheap spa in the shopping centre when we return. I had another tasty souvlaki from same place as first night. Fatima then wanted to go shopping, so we split up for a while and I went to have a look at the parliament. We then went to the contemporary art museum, which had a strange but interesting exhibition about the financial crisis and capitalism. On the way back we came across an excavation site that had something to do with Aristotle. We stopped in a restaurant in Syntagma square where I had a delicious country cheese pie and frozen yoghurt with Oreos. On the way back I suggested that we go on the Athens happy train because, despite the name, it was cheaper and less tacky than the other tourist buses. Initially Fatima wasn't that keen but in the end we both really enjoyed it because although we went past many places we had already seen, it showed us the places we hadn't seen and helped us plan for the next day. We then walked back to the hotel.

On 10th August at 9:00 we woke up and at 10:30 we paid and left the hotel, then booked it again for when we returned to Athens after Santorini. As we had planned the day before, we went to see Hadrian's Arch and the Temple of Zeus. We then went back to the tourist area at the bottom of the hill near the Acropolis and had lunch at a restaurant, where I had Spinach pie and a diet coke. We then went through the shopping streets and headed back to the hotel to pick up our luggage. We bought a Greek salad and water and took the metro from Omonoia and arrived at 16:30 at Piraeus port. We were due to catch the high speed SeaJets 17:30-22:30 ferry, but it was delayed. The hotel didn't inform us that we had to collect our tickets with the reservation slip and we didn't find out about this until we were already at the ferry terminal and it was due to arrive shortly. I had to run back from the terminal to the centre of the port to get tickets and we could have easily missed it. It took a long time to board the boat because there was a long queue. I felt faint from running in the heat (the rocking boat didn't help) and I was coughing because my lungs hurt, but I had water and a nap. I didn't eat much and my appetite wasn't normal, but I felt very hungry next day. We arrived at Santorini port at 12:00, so we had missed our 22:30 hotel transfer to Irineos Studios in Perissa. We called the hotel for advice, but thankfully they came to pick us up and we arrived at the hotel at 01:00, so we unpacked and planned the rest of the holiday (See 'Visit Greek islands').

On 16th August we arrived back in Piraeus port on a Blue Star ferry at 23:15 and took the metro to Omonoia where we checked in to hotel Cosmopolit again and went straight to bed. I had gotten a cold and diarrhea in Santorini, so I hadn't been eating very often. I went a few days without eating anything, which was a shame because there were lots of delicious foods, but at least this saved me some money.

On 17th August I struggled to eat some grilled green peppers for brunch. I was trying to eat mostly vegetables to clear out my system. We walked to the shopping streets again. Fatima found a spa and had a massage whilst I went and got a bottle necklace for myself and a slush puppy. We went to a restaurant in a quiet area for a few hours, but sadly I couldn't eat anything. We then went back to the hotel because we were totally exhausted and watched Catfish and a film. We were planning to get food, but ended up falling asleep.

On 18th August I printed my boarding pass and bus ticket. I couldn't eat anything for breakfast so I had a coke. We took the tram from Syntagma all the way to end and then took a bus to Vouliagmeni Lake. There was a restaurant and sun beds near the lake and we were able to swim. I wore my goggles and used my underwater camera to take photos of the fish, which nibbled my feet, the same as those that you can find in fish spas. We had dinner in an empty restaurant called Pakaaikon at the beach and I got a large meal of fried tomato balls and chips, although unfortunately I couldn't eat it all, so got it in a pack to take out. At about 22:15 we took the tram back to Syntagma square and the metro to Omonia and went straight to bed.

On 19th I checked out of the hotel at about 05:00 and Fatima stayed behind because her flight wasn't until 13:50. I took a taxi to Syntagma square and from there I took the X95 bus back to the airport. My flight was the 09:25 – 11:15 FR14 to Stansted Airport. Unfortunately my mum couldn't pick me up, so I took the 12:15 - 13:30 bus to London Victoria and the then 16:00 - 17:15 bus to Reading Calcot, by which time I was pretty exhausted. Luckily mum picked me up at 17:15 and I was able to go home and rest.

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