After a very brief visit of central Athens, (I’ll get to that in a bit) a cold snap sets in and we are chased away back down onto the Peloponnese again to the campsite at Drepano (Near Nafplio). Around Athens 5-10 cm of snow on the hills around the capital. The temperature plummets, there’s occasional snow in the wind and we can’t quite believe this is Greece! As it happens, Greece is about to have the coldest recorded week for 5 years. Just our luck.
Laura (our daughter) and Sam (partner) land at Athens airport 23rd Dec and we all trundle back to Drepano to ‘do Christmas’. The weather held up just long enough to complete Christmas. We dropped them back in Athens 5 days later the day before it snowed. Weird weather. We read it’s going on all over southern Spain too, flooding followed by snow. We later learn that parts of Greece have 10 cm of snow that (in living memory) have never had snow before. We’re just lucky I guess.
But first back to the brief visit of Athens. It’s one of those places we all have a perception about. If I think of Italy, I get a mental image of Pisa, France it’s Eifel tower, Greece it’s the Parthenon. From a very early age, I cam remember images of the Parthenon sat high on a hill and the city sprawling below it. But what that image didn’t get over was the sheer scale of Athens city…it’s HUGE! No skyscrapers (usually a sign that the ground is not stable to take the load) so the buildings stretch on and on in every direction.
There seems to be a lack of choice in and around Athens when it comes to stopping over in a MoHo, most choosing more expensive option a, – Athens Camping. At €32 per night, a little rich for us and still no closer to the centre of Athens than option b, – A guarded car park 10 miles outside the centre, at Piraeus, water and WiFi chucked in for a flabbergasting sum of €13. There’s an underground station a short walk away that will scoot you straight into the heart of it all, but we have a (not so secret) weapon, we can…”unleash the crunchy!” Having seen the volume of traffic, and driving quality in surrounding Piraeus, we’d be much better off tootling around on a bike, it’s madness out there!
Having read reviews of Athens camping, most seemed to be in the negative about the place, we were so glad to come here instead. As soon as we arrived, Mary the car-park attendant (not sure if she owns it) gave us the full run-down on what to see and what to avoid in Athens, complete with directions and free hand-edited map. A full history lesson and political background synopsis were also thrown in for free, it’s obvious she’s passionate about Greece, it’s people and Athens in particular and welcomes the winter tourists. We’re glad to be here, I just wish someone would give the thermostat a nudge.
We zoomed off into central Athens and found a spot near the Parliament building, just in time to see the guards with pom-poms on their shoes prancing up and down. The temperature was around 4 degrees and they looked frozen in spite of the thick woolly leggings.
Over three whole days, we toured the Acropolis, Hadrian’s library and Athens Cathedral, the shopping and market areas, the ‘new’ Olympic stadium, then to the top end of the city for the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. All well worth a visit and we even managed to find a little vegetarian restaurant too, so a little treat was in order, as we hardly ever eat out.
After we’d dropped Laura & Sam back at the Airport, the weather got colder, the snow cleared up, the clouds cleared and the temperature dropped. The surrounding hills were covered in snow, we would have to drive a long way to escape the snow and there were still many things in Greece we wanted to see, so there was nothing for it but to dig in & wait it out.
Throughout January there were many nice sunny days too, days the needle got up to 15 degrees, but they were few and far between. Then one evening, we were sat watching an episode of Goggle-box AU, when we (that’s the collective ‘we’) had a brain-wave, let’s fly out of Athens and bugger off to Oz for a bit! So we made a few arrangements with our very kind rellies in Adelaide, and we were all set. Fly from Athens (via Dubai) to Adelaide & return about a month later. We’re just so glad they are happy for us to come over, it’s been 13 years since we were last there, so it will be great to see them all again and the new additions. We’ve had the heating up full blast for the past week in an attempt to acclimatise ourselves, the temps in Adelaide are up in the 30’s now, so I guess we are going to ‘melt’ for the first few days, hopefully should start to cool down mid-month. All excited now, can’t wait for ‘take-off’ day to come, 25/1/17 @15:30.
No need for sleepover co-ords, we’ve only been on the campsite, Piraeus car park & Nafplio dock, which is a great place to wake up in on the right kind of morning.
Kindest XX Wayne.