Monday 28 June 2010

Athens Days 3 to 5

We were able to take things a little easier on the Saturday, rising for breakfast in the airy restaurant overlooking the sea in our own good time. The remarkable thing, when you are used to Rowan's voice cutting through the morning air like nails down a blackboard, is the quietness when you wake up. No thumping on the floor above, no doors being closed or opened by the shove method, no arguments over toys or requests to be fed.

Sharon has been keeping up a good training regime of late and visited the gym today while I went for a walk into the nearest conurbation with Gavin. It's about twenty minutes, past the less exclusive, but still pay-entry, beaches and lidos. As with many parts of Greece, the modern architecture has little sympathy for the old, with a fondness for leaving concrete roofs/floors unfinished with rusting steel struts exposed, ready to take the next level should the owner feel inclined or financially able to complete the job. The current dire economic situation affecting us all has hit Greece particularly badly, but fortunately they seem to be keeping the strikes and anarchy to midweek, away from the tourists.

Lunch and the afternoon were fairly haphazard affairs, making up sandwiches from the previous day's leftovers and lazing around on sunbeds and reading before getting dressed up for the evening's formal dinner. With the Scottish men in kilts (it was a tad warm) and the ladies very swishly dressed, we boarded the coach for a drive into Athens, about all we saw of the actual city itself. It would have been nicer to have been a bit closer to the sights and therefore had more of an inclination to visit the likes of the Acropolis but we've had such a busy time of it lately that we felt more like chilling out back at the hotel.

Our dinner was at the Zappeion Palace, a relatively new (140 years old) venue, crouched at the top of a low rise beyond a fountain. A tongue of red carpet was unrolled down the steps and across the esplanade, bounded by drummers welcoming us on the approach. Beyond the ante-room, the interior was like a mini-Colosseum; a roofless circular venue bounded by colonnaded passeges at ground and upper levels. The tables were set out in this courtyard. Fortunately there was no sign of rain!

The setting and food were most enjoyable and, as darkness fell, were followed by a brief cabaret of semi-traditional music; less balalika, more electric violin. There was the usual mobbing of the small dance area and the small bar, then we returned to the coaches for the drive back. We congregated in the Cairns' room, admiring their bath with the view of the beach below!

Our final full day, the Sunday, followed a similar lazy pattern to the Saturday, with the exception of seeing off the Level 1 and 2 achievers. I walked up the road to the end of the peninsula on which the Arion resort is situated but there was little to see other than a crumbling Heliport on the rocks and a view back to a partially built extension to the resort.

In the evening we met up in the Wilsons' room, once more plundering the free food and drink from our private lounge area en route and avoiding the Germany v England World Cup last 16 game that was being watched by the German achievers (present with the UK achievers for the first time) alongside a few of the English. Increasingly few, as Germnay stuffed them 4-1!

Our destination for dinner was a private house called "The Island", a little way along the coast road to the east. It was an airy, contemporary place looking out to the sea, with a letterbox pool and patio area on which we partook of dinner. As the sun set and a light drizzle came on we duly retired to the leather couches for post-prandial drinks; a very relaxing end to the trip.

Monday was mundane. Packing, bussing and checking in to fly back to Heathrow and thence to Edinburgh, with only a tasty stop at Wagamama's in Heathrow to raise the mood. Overall, the trip maybe wasn't quite as exciting as previous ones, but that's to be expected as the bar has been set high from the likes of Rome and Sharon is more in networking mode than tourist mode. We didn't try to cram in as much as on other trips, favouring the lazy approach, and it certainly was relaxing. I'm in no hurry to get back to changing nappies and feeding the brood!

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