KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
We were both very excited to arrive in Athens, as Greece is an entirely new country for us. Anil stopped in Athens on his way to Canada in 1968 but he was only in transit so really didn’t see anything more than a great view from the plane as it landed. It was somewhat the same story for me when I passed through Athens on my way home from working and travelling in Africa in 1973.
Anil and I met shortly after I arrived back home in Edmonton and as our relationship flourished over the coming months, we talked repeatedly about our shared love of travel. Here we are, back in Athens but this time we are here to tour the country and enjoy it at our leisure.
Over the intervening years, we have heard about the wonders of Greece and the beauty of the Greek islands, but for the most part, Athens was painted as a terrible city, polluted, crowded and impossible to move around in due to the unrelenting traffic congestion. I think we made the right decision to wait this long to visit, because things have changed dramatically with the advent of the Olympics Games here in 2004. The city was cleaned up, dusted off, many city center streets were made traffic-free and a modern metro was built.
We were delighted to be able to take the new metro from the airport to within a few blocks of our hotel, in comfort and for a reasonable fee. In fact, we got a discount travelling as a pair instead of what we would have paid if we purchased our tickets separately. We knew that we had selected a hotel situated in a slightly ‘gritty’ area of the city centre, but we are getting pretty used to the major cities of Europe being awash with graffiti and suffering with overburdened civic services. We turned a blind eye to the shuttered storefronts covered with spray paint and tattered posters, but it was harder to ignore the smell of fish when we rounded the corner of the city market which, fortunately, was closed for the night. I held my scarf over my nose and walked the half block to the hotel’s entrance.
We stepped into the lobby and the contrast couldn’t have been more dramatic. The hotel is modern and bright and we were delighted with our room. So much so that we decided to extend our stay for another three days. That will give us an entire week to explore the city without feeling the pressure to get out early each morning and pack too many museum visits into a short a period of time.
Our hotel overlooks the market below, but we’re on the seventh floor so the smell of the ‘fresh’ fish doesn’t reach up to our open window and if we look out the large window near the elevator, we can gaze at the enchanting panorama of the Acropolis lit up at night. The rooftop bar is closed for the season, but we can take our own snacks and/or drinks to the top floor if we wish, and enjoy the night views of Athens stretching off in all directions.