Okay, okay… I’ve waited long enough. Seeing as how I came back from Athens oh, I don’t know, 14 MONTHS AGO I guess I can finally post about the last destination on my Contiki tour. Truth be told, I think I’ve subconsciously been putting it off because even after over a year I don’t want to accept that this trip ended. My last two posts in this series will be a bit of a wrap up of Contiki, so PLEASE leave any questions you have about my experience or Contiki in general and I will be happy to answer them!
Today was a fairly long travel day. We had to take an early ferry from Corfu back to Igoumenitsa and I slept almost the whole time. From Igoumenitsa, we got on our coach and started driving towards Athens. We stopped in a town called Amfilochia for lunch where I got a gyro and a 1.5 litre bottle of water for only 3.50 Euros! Good thing because I’m pretty much out of money so at least we’re at the end of the trip! It was the cheapest and best valued meal I had in Europe. Delicious too.
Our next stop was in Corinth where we saw the Corinth Canal. It was such a far drop! Finally, we got to Athens around 6pm. Alex told us about how Athens has been majorly effected by the Global Economic Crisis of 2008 and that Athens was a bit run down. This was very true. There was graffiti on almost every building downtown, but you could see that it was once very nice. Our hotel was actually very nice too. It was the Athens Centre Square hotel and it was quite modern, but the style reminded me of the sixties.
We had dinner at 7:30 in the Plaka district. This wasn’t far from the hotel and it was full of shops and restaurants with people sitting outside and it was really nice. The restaurant was great and seemed very authentic with a rustic wood paneled ceiling and shutters on the windows that swung open. There was traditional Greek music and dancers to entertain us in the background.
We had tons of delicious food. Spanikopita, sausage, bread, tzatziki, beans with a tomato sauce, red and white wine, Greek salad, pork souvlaki, peas and carrots, and lemon potatoes. I think it was my favourite meal. It was a great final sit down meal with the whole group and we had so much fun drinking, eating, and laughing.
After dinner, we went back to the hotel and went up to the rooftop. I am starting to get sick so I didn’t drink any more beyond the wine at dinner and didn’t stay up there too long. We had an amazing view of the Acropolis (it’s lit up at night) from the roof.
In the morning I woke up feeling much sicker with a sore throat, bad cough, and stuffed up sinuses. Everyone has been sick and I’ve had a lingering sore throat for about a week, but it really hit me today and I felt awful. We went for a bus tour of Athens, but unfortunately I missed out on some of it because I fell asleep. We saw the original Olympic stadium, and that was really neat. Then we got off the coach and went on our tour of the Acropolis. We saw the ruins of Amphitheatres, the Parthenon, and the coolest thing to me was the Theatre of Dionysus, the oldest theatre in the world, dating back to the 4th century BC! That was so neat to see after learning about it in university so much. Unfortunately I didn’t get to walk through it or anything, we were so high up on the Acropolis and you could see it on the other side down at the bottom, and there wasn’t nearly enough time for me to walk there and back. I got an awesome bird’s eye view though!
After our tour ended and we were back at the hotel, Jacinda and I walked back to the Plaka district to buy some souvenirs. I got some nice scarves, a few for me and Alison (my sister), a glass evil eye to hang on the wall and a smaller one for Alison, and I got a nice, dainty evil eye bracelet.
After that we waited at the hotel for half our group to return from a travel agency so that we could have one final lunch together. It took a really long time and Jacinda and I had to catch our taxi to the airport soon, but we went anyway even though we were rushed. I got Moussaka and it was delicious. It was one of the foods I wanted to try in Greece, so I am really happy I did. Wine by the glass was only 1 Euro (cheaper than water and soft drinks) so of course I got wine too. I also tried a little bit of Mae’s saganaki and grilled hot peppers and they were both delicious.
We had to say our goodbyes and it was really sad. Jacinda and I both started crying when we left. A good portion of the group are cruising around more of the Greek islands for a bit longer and I so wish I was too! I know I will be back to Greece, though. All good things must come to an end. We walked back to the hotel in tears and caught our cab to the airport. Our flight from Athens was pretty uneventful, other than both of us feeling so sick. I slept for part of it, and read. We had baked pasta, salad, bread, and a sesame cookie thing. I ordered orange juice thinking it would be good for my cold, but I guess I didn’t learn that in every single European country, other than England and France, I don’t like European orange juice. It’s so sickly sweet and tastes like Sunny D.
We got to Heathrow and looked around for a place to rest for our overnight 15 hour layover. There was nothing. It was bizarre seeing an airport as large as Heathrow so dead. We couldn’t find anywhere comfortable, quiet, or safe enough and we were exhausted. We talked about getting a hotel, but it was so expensive. We tried to wait it out but we were both so sick and tired that we knew we had to get a hotel room to sleep. By midnight we booked the last room at the Heathrow Holiday Inn…it was an executive room of course… probably the most expensive sleep we had on the trip, but we needed it. We finally got a good, long night of sleep after three exhausting (and amazing) weeks and we would have been so much sicker if we didn’t.
Theatre of Dionysus