Posts Tagged ‘holiday’

Venturing out of the city

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Experiencing a bit of the roads over last few days we decided to get back onto the streets and go further a field and see what was beyond Athens city. We headed towards the coast, not really knowing where we were going we drove for around an hour and stumbled upon a little café selling cheese pies which we had to try for breakfast. Sitting on a quiet-ish road side eating our breakie and drinks we asked a waitress of where the nearest beach was, amongst her great pointing attempt at English we realised we weren’t far away at all.
About 10 minutes drive we found a little harbour where cafes, hotels and fishing boats were. We stopped here for a little walk where we saw a crisp clear ocean with much sea life, several Apache style helicopters circling from the local army base, loads of dogs just strewn across car parks and beautiful hills appearing out of the sea we took a few photos before heading back to the car.
Following the coast seeing/smelling fuel refineries and amazing ways of life we found our first super market; My Market. Where we bought once more some food to try and a few presents.
We headed back to the hotel and got prepared for a night out in the city. We went in on the tram system for ease. The square was buzzing with life, people going in and out of very expensive chocolate and designer stores. After walking around for a while a Greek man noticed us looking a little confused; we could see little restaurants and pointed at a little pizza place that didn’t look very appealing. He opted to point us in the right direction by walking us to a lovely restaurant he recommended. A couple of streets across we were in an area we were familiar too as we had taken a few photos on foot earlier and passed through on the train. Yet again greeted by an old Greek man very proud to shake hands and be nice… as they do! We sat down and were being recommended our starters, mains and wine but decided to be a little decisive which didn’t seem to go down too well. We decided to have his recommended salad and cheeses but all had a different main, chicken & pasta, Mousaka, Chicken with potatoes and Pork steak which disappointingly turned out to be a normal pork chop!
Determined not to be fleeced we were still shocked at the 102euros it cost us; not realising they had charged us for the various little nibbled they plonked on our table! We were given a little glass of murky Ouzo which wasn’t as strong as Sambuca even though still at 40%; it tasted a little weird and I couldn’t stomach it!
We paid up and went for a little walk, trying to find somewhere we could have a little taste of their sweets for the first time. Finding very little open we came across one shop just closing and ran in for a few nibbles.
After spending a while in the square taking night shots we decided to call it a night and head back home on the tram; trying our ticket in the ticket validation machines we realised it was 1Euro return and it had stamped us for the journey back; making it an even bigger bargain considering the taxi the night before cost us 20Euros for no more than a 2mile/5 minute drop off.

Athens City Rush

Monday, October 26th, 2009

Started the day with the most gorgeous power shower which freshened me up and it looked like the day was going to be a good one, it was wet but clearing up outside.
We went up to the top floor to have a look over the city where all we could see were masses of white houses for as far as the eye could see. Next block over was the tram line so we headed off to the city centre on that, at only 1Euro each return it was at last a bargain!
The tram pulled in at Syntagma Square, opposite the parliament buildings. A stall sold what looked like pretzels and various other Greek bakery produce so we opted to have this for our breakfast.
Aiming for the Acropolis we were unsure of where to turn amid the mass rush and luckily noticed a little touristy train which went around various streets of Athens allowing us to stop off and soak up the local culture. Our first stop was at a little market and small shops outside an ancient library in ruins. Here there were few beggars who made you feel guilty of their despair but knew getting your wallet out would have been a brave mistake.
We headed off into the square where there were streets of shops, stalls and food kiosks. After walking around for a while we stumbled upon a Greek kebab shop where yet again an old man lured us in. He too recommended us a typical dish on salads, various meets and sauces which we felt a little anxious about wondering if we were going to be fleeced again. The man assured us by stating we should only order enough for 3 people as this would have been sufficient. The food came along shortly comprising of chicken, lamb, spicy sausage, chips, red onion and tomato. It was a very nice taster of local food.
We continued to shop amongst the rain which started to thicken as the afternoon progressed. We headed back to the train hoping to get a glimpse of the Acropolis after getting a few presents and personal memoirs.
At this point it was lashing down and we all felt a little disappointed that we were not prepared for the occasion with clothing etc. So we headed back to the start point.
All a little thirsty we found a little café where Greek coffees, beer and ‘Coke Cola’ were bought!
Suddenly the rain had passed so we set off on foot to the Acropolis. Going through very windy, tight Greek alleys we ascended the mountain that the Acropolis was on, but still no real sign of how to get there. After trying a few routes and speaking to several locals who were more than delighted to point us in the right direction we were at the gates of the Acropolis. The walk through the gardens was amazing, reading the history and seeing the effort involved in creating the marble work was astonishing. We came across an Amphitheatre on the edge of the hill which was near on fully preserved.
We took the last climb to the top of the Acropolis where we were taken by surprise of the sights surrounding us, apart from the beauty of the Acropolis itself, every bit of flat land, hillside for as far as the eye could see was covered by 4-5 story buildings. It was a mass white sheet. The Acropolis looked amazing amid the sunset where I managed to hopefully get a few nice shots. It started to get a little overcast and cool so we decided to make our way back. Due to mom suffering with her feet we found a taxi to take us back to the hotel.
The evening thereafter was a little bit wasted as we were all a little tired but unsure of where or what to do as moms feet were not going to be able to cope with much more walking for the day. We sat in our room drinking Ouzo, red wine and eating various produces we had picked up throughout the day.

A quick flight to Athens

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

Awaking too early as my phone had not correctly updated itself I decided to try to get the extra hour before I really had to be up. Waking this time at 2.45am by dad knocking on my door I felt quite awake and ready for the break.
Last minute checks and we were off, I decided to drive and actually got all the way to Birmingham without feeling tired; it was a holiday record!

Going through numerous checks including the near on complete strip down; where I had to get my laptop out of the bag, chain off, belt off, everything out of my pockets, coat off etc etc we sat in the lounge for only about 10 minutes before getting onto our KLM flight to Amsterdam. Set off in sun rise heading over Norwich way with little turbulence and a weird breakfast; 45 minutes later we were landing, 15 minutes later the plane had actually parked. Seems weird that it takes 15 minutes for a plane to get around an airport, 45 minutes to get from Redditch to Birmingham via car yet only 45 minutes to get from Birmingham to Amsterdam via a plane; amazing!
Amsterdam seemed a very rich fertile place with large estuaries all of which was very flat, that was about as much we saw as we had to go straight to our next boarding area.
Jodie had bought a bottle of water at the last airport as part of package little realising it would be taken off our hands soon as we tried to board our next plane. The deal wasn’t so much of a deal after all and didn’t we know about it… Jodie wasn’t impressed we could get scissors, a laptop and mobile phones through but not a bottle of water; whatever happed to our 5 basic needs!
Before long it was time to fly again, this time a 3.5 hour flight to Athens. The flight went smoothly with sandwiches, a chocolate brownie and various drinks. Flying over the Alps it was most picturesque, still with lots of snow on the peaks even though it is end of summer.
Landed at a very wet Athens airport at around 2.30pm local time, which including losing 2 hours through time difference.
Soon found our car in the car park which was a Seat Leon, looking relatively new yt somewhat battered!
We precariously joined the motorway and set towards Athens central where we were greeted with mayhem! Never seen anything like it, cars everywhere but in a lane, bikes going through red lights, horns sounding left right and centre for no apparent reason. Taking a few wrong turns was a big mistake, taking a three right turns you would assume would get you right back on track but that was not the case, it was near on impossible to find the route again. Eventually after asking 2 people who sent us in different directions we found the hotel, or so we thought… Turned out to be the Convention centre, but we knew we couldn’t be far away at all; or so we hoped after it taking some 4 hours to get where we are. We booked in and realised an extra charge was required for parking the car at 19Euros per night. The car park had a Hummer, Maserati 4.2l, Porsche 911 GT; but thankfully several other low key cars like ours too.
The hotel was 5 stars alright, with Concierge, large open areas, glass lifts, marble walk ways and that typical business vibe.
We got our room keys and settled in before going out for a meal, not knowing where to hell to go the concierge got us a taxi to a local Greek restaurant which was family run. Down a back street we were greeted with rain and a typical old Greek man. The food was nice and well priced, or so we thought; our first mistake was asking him to provide us with his recommended house wine, not realising until they has 2 bottled down them it was 25euros a bottle totalling our menu at 120Euros! We had a mixture of salads, lamb special, Mousaka and Bolognaise.
We headed back to the hotel and went to bed after arranging tomorrow.

Module 1 Motorcycle Training

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

Started the day early as I had my DAS training, as per usual I was running late and found myself rushing around at 8.30 looking for important documents and protective clothing as the rain was pouring down.
I got to RMT a little later than normal but luckily not too late.
Soon got dressed up and ready, more-so than RMT as they had got me the wrong bike!
There was another lad with us for the morning who was preparing for his Mod 2, so we stayed around Redditch and Bromsgrove covering typical test routes. The weather was quite dismal but was a great experience to have covered it now rather than on my test for the first time. It didn’t seem as bad as first thought, although you have to be cautious of the wet, a bike still has a lot of grip.
Before long it was lunch time, I felt more confident than ever before, but still not entirely comfortable, realising I was having to over stretch for the clutch meaning I wasn’t using it correctly and still not slipping it enough.
We prepared the bike with a strong cable tie to help me out with the clutch and headed off to the Mod 1 test centre where I will be having a taste of the circuit; comprising of several module including pushing the bike, weaving in and out of cones, figure of 8, emergency stop, swerve manoeuvre, u turn and walking pace.
I struggled a little with the figure of 8 but felt very confident that I will be ok on my test. We headed back to Redditch and unfortunately started to splutter a little bit, suddenly losing all power and realising that the bike had been on reserve all day; meaning I had no reserve to get to any fuel station so had to drain a couple of litres out of the other bike.
By 4.30 I was home and knackered as usual, once more finding muscles I never knew I had!
It was all a mad rush preparing for the holiday as I hadn’t done anything yet.
By around 10.30 I had been to Tesco for last minute things, had a shower, packed my bag had yet another take away and ready for bed.