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Athens – nothing works!

It’s true what you see on the news! The four days we spent in Athens saw strikes of some sort or another. Unfortunately for us, we directly experienced many of them!

Three weeks ago when we left Athens for the islands, there was a metro and taxi strike which no one bothered to tell us about even though we had told the reception desk that we intended to leave at 6.30am to catch our ferry and hail a taxi outside. Next morning along with a few other hotel guests we were rushing around to find a private driver so we didn’t miss our rather expensive ferry! We paid double the money to this driver but at least we got to the derry a couple of minutes before the hatch started to go up!

We had learned our lesson and instead of relying on the locals, we checked a great website we found – http://livingingreece.gr/strikes/ – which meant we knew that the day we arrive back from the islands there was a metro and taxi strike too. As we had taken the telephone number of private car driver – Kostas -who had originally dropped us at the port, we called him a day before to book him to pick us up from the ferry and even texted and emailed him to give him our names.

Leaving the ferry we saw no sign of him so we called him again and he said the traffic is bad and that he’ll be with us within 20 minutes. 45 minutes later we called him again and he said the traffic was a nightmare and that he will only be another ten minutes. Over an hour later, he arrived and we got into the cab and saw there was in fact no more than moderate traffic on all the roads even though he said he had come from the same direction.This time he charged us even more $30 for a ten minute journey!

We had hoped to see the Acropolis but being so delayed we weren’t able to and were quite tired and just needed to lie back and relax at the hotel. When I tried to check in for our flight the next day, the wi-fi didn’t seem to connect so I went to the reception who told me that it was down and the mechanic couldn’t come til the next day because of the strikes!

We went to the only restaurant recommended by anyone near our hotel in Omonia Square – Alexander the Great – and had food which at best can be described as bland with service verging on insolent!

I thought I was being clever by booking a flight on the only day when the air traffic controllers weren’t striking. Though the metro next to our hotel goes directly to the airport, because of yet another Metro strike we took a taxi to the airport which took over an hour and when we did reach the airport we were told that our flight had a 3 hour delay because of the air traffic control strike the previous day. Our check in lady, who was decidedly miserable and gloomy at the same time told us that the 3 hour delay was the best scenario and that it’s likely to get further delayed. She said we were lucky the flight wasn’t cancelled!

We took this n our stride and went through the long line of passport control and found that for food and drink there is just one cafe which is overflowing with people waiting for their delayed flights. As we had only just come through, we went back to the passport control and asked to be let beack out again as we had several hours to kill and there were more options on the outside. The immigration control lady told us off and then gave us vague direction to go throguh the back of some shop and into arrivals, out of immigration and into departures. After an hour of looking for this exit, we managed to get out to departures where there was a bookshop, WH Smiths and 2 cafes. At least the airport was considerate enough to provide an hour free of wi-fi, though after that hour you don’t even have an option to purchase any more wi-fi. So we just sat back for the rest of our wait.

All in all, I am really disappointed. The islands are beautiful but nothing when compared to some of the experiences we have had this last year. I won’t be returning to Greece in a hurry!

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