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Greece

Travel in the Coronavirus era

Athens, Greece

Today we go on our "Babymoon," our last hurrah before everything gets complicated.
I have never seen the airport so empty in my entire life.
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Tons of flights were cancelled because they were to Coronavirus countries. And non-residents who have been to those countries in the past 2 weeks have been denied entry for a while, so there are way fewer tourist groups and business travelers here that need to get home. (As an example, my big international company has banned all travel for conferences, meetings, trainings, or other non-essential reasons, even to places that don't have hese legal restrictions.)
Also, I think a lot of people don't want to take the risk of getting the virus or the hassle of being quarantined in case there happens to be an outbreak while they're in some foreign country, so they decided not to fly. But some guy with it was at my local grocery store and a bunch of other places last week, and anybody who was there at the same time is supposed to quarantine at home, so I figure it's less risky to get out for a while than stay.
So the airport was a ghost town.
most gates looked like this

most gates looked like this


However, the flight was packed. I guess anybody who needs to get out has a very limited selection of flights, and so everyone was crammed in.
Most people seemed to be behaving relatively normally. Only a few wore standard medical face masks, and I was inclined to ask them whether they were sick or stupid, but didn't in case they were the tiny percentage of the population that has some compulsion to touch their face and needs the mask to avoid it. Of course, there was one guy in one of the face masks that's actually rated to prevent virus-sized particle entry, which was actually somewhat smart.
We just washed our hands after every step where other people touched our tickets and/or passports and lysol-wiped down the passports, tray table and arm rests on the plane.
When we landed in Athens, we did the same and even lysol-wiped the things we'd touch in the rental car. I don't know if we're overreacting, but it can't hurt, and I don't particularly want to get sick.

We drove to our hotel, Tier Collection.
The hotel is nice and fancy and probably has more stars than we're used to. It's just in a part of town that seems a bit dodgy after 11pm. While I'm somewhat blissfully innocent and just noticed people were out on the street smoking, my partner paid much more attention to what they were smoking. He couldn't think of something to smoke that he didn't see. He also says he saw a prostitute, but didn't point her out at the time, and I hadn't noticed. We're debating whether it was just somebody dressed a certain way or an actual prostitute.
Despite the apparent drug issue, we didn't see anybody who looked particularly dangerous and there were other people in the street. So we ventured out a block or two to get some food. We saw some Syrian/Lebanese place that looked good. Until we approached it and I saw a rat running around the floor and under a table.
We turned away and ended up at someplace that had fries, chicken, and coleslaw. It's not the most Greek first meal, but it's a snack and almost midnight, so I'll take it.
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Fortunately, there are also lots of convenience stores open that sell produce, so we were also able to get some bananas for health and also so I have something for when I wake up in the middle of the night hungry.
We took the food back to the hotel and got settled in. The food was simple, but the garlic mayo made it surprisingly good. Not sure that's the last thing I want to eat before bed notmally, but given the time, I'll take it.

Posted by spsadventures 15:37 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Not the Athens I expected

The plane arrived in Athens and I am so glad I did well in physics and math. Many of the signs at the airport are in Latin letters, but once you get into town, a lot of signs are only in Greek. I speak zero Greek, but I can figure out the names of places based on knowing the letters from math and physics. It's helping my navigation tremendously.

It seems that there is some sort of fundraiser for breast cancer today, as everybody is walking around in pink shirts from some event. It might be why the crowds are thick, or they might always be that way because I'm in the touristy part of town. I know that it's a big tourist trap, but I stopped for lunch at one of the restaurants on the way to the Acropolis. It had Greek food, and was full, so I thought it would be fine. Actually, I had some of the better food on the trip there.

I then continued on to see the Acropolis. It was apparently free day there. You still needed a ticket, but they cost 0 Euro. I don't know if that's because of the fundraiser or just a normally occurring thing, but I was pretty pleased to get in for free. I was even happier when I saw what there is to see at the Acropolis- a not-great ruin. The view of the city is pretty good and the Acropolis is a classic building, but there's really not much left to see, and they don't make the ruins speak at all. Plus, the experience was ruined by the bags of construction materials and the big construction vehicles sitting in the middle. The best part was the sign telling of the history- it was ruined a little when it was being used to store ammunition and blew up, but completely destroyed and utterly ruined when the Brits came and took off pieces of the art to bring over to the British Museum. If I had to pay 12 Euro, or whatever the normal price is to see that, I'd be a pretty unhappy camper.

On the other hand, the Agora is way underrated. I also got in free there, as the Acropolis ticket covered that as well. The Agora had art and statues, many ruins and buildings that we could go inside of. It was prettier, more educational, had more art, and just generally better. I spent much more time there than at the Acropolis.

I wasn't feeling super great when I finished there, but I decided that I wanted to see the Acropolis Museum to see if there was similar interesting art and maybe the Acropolis could redeem itself. When I got to the museum, I saw that while it wasn't free right now, if I waited a half hour, I could get in for free. So, I pulled out my book, sat down, and read for a half hour. When I looked up, the previously non-existent line had grown to a line out the door and to the street. Apparently everybody else had the same idea as I did. And then, my trip took a turn for the worse. I decided that I needed some bushes and I have to say that while lunch was one of the better meals I had the first time round, the second, it was much less good. On that note, I decided to head back to the airport, where I could always be near a restroom, and coudl sit calmly before the flight, even though I had plenty of time left. Without too many details, I'll just say that my lunch revisited many more times and I do NOT recommend the restaurant I ate at. I can, however, recommend the little emergency room they have at the Greek airport. Everybody who helped me, from the mini-ambulance driver to the nurse and the doctor was extremely kind and friendly. Big thanks to all of the helpful people who put up with a sick and gross traveler! After my lunch stopped returning, an IV, and some rest, I was ultimately able to make it onto my flight on time and arrived home safely, albeit still not 100%. It was a crappy end to a great trip, but now I just have another excuse to go back.

Don't eat this!

Don't eat this!


Ampitheater

Ampitheater


Acropolis

Acropolis


Agora Museum

Agora Museum


At Agora

At Agora

Posted by spsadventures 16:00 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

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