Posts tagged: Hotel Neos Olymbos

Back to Athens

By , 21/07/2014 19:28

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Above: The view from the house over the town of Leivadia.

As I write this evening, I am back at the Neos Olympos Hotel (Ξενοδοχείο Νέος Όλυμπος) in the centre of Athens, having finished my stay in Leivadia.

I was up at dawn this morning, packing my bag. After a quick breakfast I said my goodbyes to Dimitris and the family, and at 07:30 we loaded the car and headed for the railway station – a 15 minute drive away from the town itself. I took the 08:00 train – service 1511 – arriving in Athens shortly after 09:30 this morning.

I stayed around the railway station for a while; sitting in the cafe there for a drink, and a bougatsa (custard pie) – before heading for the hotel, just a 5 minute walk away. Check-in officially was not until midday, but the hotel receptionist, and his mother who works in the kitchen, remembered me from my first visit, and were more than happy to let me check-in to my room an hour and a half early. I told them that I would be leaving before breakfast tomorrow to travel to Syros, and he explained to me that he had just come from a trip to Syros!

This afternoon I spent a bit of time shopping; a 24 hour All-Athens Transport Pass costs €4, and once I’d got that I got the Underground to Agios Dimitrios (Άγιος Δημήτριος) – where (right next to the station) is Athens Metro Mall. There, I had a walk round looking at what shops they have there – and went in to Public.

Public is – if you can imagine this – a Greek chain store which is effectively PC World combined with Waterstone’s and WH Smiths. There I enjoyed browsing the book shelves, the DVDs, the CDs and the vinyls. I got myself a Greek CD – Christos Dantis (Χρήστος Δάντης) album Ένα Τραγούδι Ακόμα for €6,99.

At the same time I got some blank CD-Rs, which will mean I can burn some music from my laptop to CD to listen to in the car when my parents arrive next week: saving them from bringing all their CDs over. It’s not a good idea to rely on the radio in the car in Greece: being a mountainous country, you lose the signal with every turn!

I had lunch at the Metro Mall as well: there are a range of cafes and restaurants there including Greek chain stores Goody’s and Everest; there’s also Pita Plus, PizzaGR, an Asian restaurant… but I opted for KFC. I must say that ordering KFC in Greek is rather interesting!

I’ve managed to do some washing at the nearby laundrette too, so I’ve got lots of clean clothes to take with me to Syros.

I’m having a bit of a rest now. I’ll be heading for dinner at 9 – and then tomorrow I’m leaving at around 7am, for an 08:05 ferry to Syros.

Bye for now,

FH.

My View

By , 02/07/2014 07:55

I’m up on the 4th floor of my hotel. I’m right at the top, in room 31. I can see the sea down at Piraeus from here (only a tiny bit, can’t see much). I also appear to be the only resident (on this side of the building at least) with a proper balcony.

View 1

In the other direction, the railway station Σταθμός Λαρίσης. During the evening rush hour (after about 16:30 until almost 19:00) the traffic queueing for the lights is backed up to where those two busses are (below).

View 2

I’ve Arrived

By , 01/07/2014 22:40

My Plane

After 25 weeks of planning, I have finally commenced my Grand Tour of Greece.

I write to you now from the 4th floor of the Hotel Neos Olymbos in the heart of the Greek capital Athens – I am overlooking Athens-Larissa station, the Central railway station of the city.

It felt strange getting up this morning, seeing Dad leaving for work and saying “see you in Thessaloniki in a month”. (On that note: Thessaloniki looks great from 35000 feet above. We flew over it shortly before we began our decent in to Athens).

I was hearing Greek before I’d even reached Greece. There was a group of 8 Greeks (probably students) sitting somewhere behind me when I got on the coach in Cirencester yesterday morning; they’d got on at the previous stop in Cheltenham. They then got on the coach to Gatwick with me, and I bumped in to them again when we landed in Athens.

We landed 10 minutes early – shortly before 8pm; within half an hour I was in the taxi, travelling along the Attiki Odos motorway towards my hotel. I know Greek taxi drivers like to drive fast…but this is the first time I’ve been on a 3 lane motorway in a taxi. (It’s the first time I’ve been on an actual real motorway in Greece). Blimey, it was scary. But fun too.

By 21:30 I had checked in to my room and was considering my options for the evening. I walked out the front door and turned left – towards the Traffic Police HQ (lots of police cars with blue lights flashing going in and out – I’ve never seen emergency vehicles responding to emergencies in this country before, the islands are so quiet in comparison to the city).

I took a walk round the block, found the laundrette, lots of kafenions (that’s where the old men go to smoke, drink, and chat to their friends), the mini-market, the underground station, and a few tavernas too. I know in some of the reviews of this hotel, some guests said at night you can feel a bit uncomfortable or vulnerable in this district. I didn’t find that at all – and I’m a single traveller (for this bit of the trip anyway). I’ve felt more vulnerable/uncomfortable walking through some streets of Cheltenham after dark!

After a walk around, I had a cheap toastie for dinner in one of the nearby kafenions. The ability of an Englishman to speak Greek stunned the Albanian woman running the place. She too loves Greece, and moved here 7 years ago. I always take it as a compliment when someone tells me I speak “like a Greek” – more so when they say so without knowing I’ve only just arrived!

After paying my bill (€4,30) I was asked if I’d be returning to the kafenio every night. («Εδώ θα έρθεις κάθε μέρα;») «Μήπως», I said. “Maybe”.

I have to say that the wifi isn’t great up here on the 4th floor; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, sometimes it’s just very slow. The signal’s better downstairs, where there are some sofas and tables etc. in the breakfast room – but that’s a long way down!

It’s extremely hot. Night time temperatures are in the mid 20s, daytime temperatures low 30s – this is the cool period between 2 heatwaves. It’ll be hotter at the weekend. At least the air con is free in my room.

Tomorrow? I’m thinking I might start with an early morning walk before breakfast. Then I shall get the underground to Syntagma and explore Central Athens.

Bye just now,

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