Athens Feb 08
Athens Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
Had been to Athens some years before, and got the chance to go back for, you guessed it, another game when Rangers were drawn against Panathinaikos. Decided to go out Tuesday to Friday, with the game being on the Thursday night.
Started off ominously when on the Monday Athens Airport was shut down because of heavy snow. Chelsea were due out to play Olypiakos on the Tuesday night and contact with some of their fans meant we knew some of their guys had been left stranded at a variety of London airports. Still we checked in as normal for the 05-55 KLM flight from Glasgow to Amsterdam Schipol and boarded on time, only to be left sitting on the tarmac for 40 minutes as there were restrictions on flights into Schipol because of heavy fog.
Finally took off and arrived in Amsterdam at 09-05. Problem was with the UK being no Schengen we had to leg it all the way across to the other side of the airport, going through passport control in the process. Guys there were great and they had a fast track lane so long as you had your boarding card for your onward flight. Made it to the gate with 5 minutes to spare, but had decided that our luggage wouldn't. In the event the delays had a knock on effect and it was 10am before we left.
Arrived at Athens airport and decided to get a taxi into town. Cost €25 and I just got out at mates hotel. Graham and Brian were staying in a hotel behind Omonia while I'd decided late that I was going and had got a cheap hotel near Metaxourgio.
Graham and Brian stayed out a fair bit longer than I had, and weren't fit in the morning and decided to go walkabout on my own and catch up with them later. Got the Metro to The Acropolis and started climing uphill before entering the park and then up the really steep bit. Nice sunny day and after having dressed for the snow that was still lying about, ended up down to just a t-shirt( well I am Scottish and used to it :-) ).
Still a lot of scaffolding round it as they continue the restoration works, though I'm sure it was probably built quicker originally than the amount of time they have taken putting it back together. Was worth the effort as you get great views across the city. Museum isn't up to much though. Headed down from Acropolis and towards the Ancient Agora and came across a little market with all sorts of stuff and where there were lots of bars and restaurants along an embankment. Found my way back to Monistaraki it's dodgy flea market. Took the road back into city centre and then worked my way back down to the Plaka.
Bit more organised than I'd remembered it from before, but just loads of shops all squeezed into tight liitle steets. Plenty of variety, from the tacky souvenirs to every day items locals might want.
Walked around taking a few snaps, the size of the columns is something else when you are standing right down there beside them. Wandered back through the National Gardens and got back on the metro at Syntagma and went back to hotel to put my feet up for a bit. Went abck to the cafe for my own dinner and then met the boys in Omonia where we hit a bar that was showing that nights football games.
Went back down to Monistaraki and chilled on the Thursday morning before heading back to hotel toget changed and pick up my ticket for the game.
All was fine until about 5pm when a battallion of cops in full riot gear appeared and started rounding everyone up and herding them into the metro. Me and another bloke had been sitting on a bench with our beer and as we had no obvious colours showing the police left us.
Searched on the way into the ground and lighters were confiscated, though they did give you books of matches to replace them. The away end was like being in a chicken coup, with fine mesh fencing all round, and over the top of it as well. Truely being stuck in a cage. Game was not that exciting and we trailed for most of it,before equalising in the 87th minute which was enough to take us through on away goals and we were held back for about 30 minutes after the game.
When they finally let us out we were only able to make it up the street to the main road and were then held back there as well.
Stayed out until after 2am and then walked it back up to the hotel. Grabbed a few hours sleep and then met the boys in the morning at Omonia, where we got the train out to the airport. Took about an hour as we had to change at Doukisis Plakendias and ended up waiting about 20 minutes there. Athens airport itself isn't the worst to be stuck in for a few hours and after we had been round the shops we had time for a couple of beers and a sandwich in one of the cafes that are in the middle of the concourse.
Painless flight back to Schipol, but then delayed again as the pilot for our flight was late flying another one in from Warsaw. Ended up home for midnight, and already planning the next trip to Bremen the following month.