Following their jam-packed trip to The Netherlands, Bernard and Mercedes jumped on a three-hour flight to Athens. Organised through Abbotts, they tell all about their Greek adventure…
“We were fortunate enough to be staying at the superb Grande-Bretagne Hotel, thanks to Julian. Located on Syntagma Square, it’s close to the picturesque Plaka and Monastiraki quarters, which we enjoyed.
When we told our Athenian friend the name of our hotel, she said it was the best hotel in Athens. As a former tour guide, she knew the city well, and our own experience only confirmed her opinion.
The staff were incredible, the room was excellent and the view from the restaurant onto the Acropolis of Athens and the Saronic Gulf was out of this world. It was without doubt one of the finest hotels we have ever stayed at.
One afternoon our friend took us on a drive to the Port of Piraeus. Although we were rather sad to find it surrounded by lots of high-rise buildings, it is very impressive.
We were also impressed by the Acropolis Museum, which among its many attractions had a splendid bookshop and an excellent restaurant with a fantastic view onto the Parthenon.
Revisiting the National Archaeological Museum was thoroughly enjoyable, it houses a superb collection of pieces from all over Greece, including our favourite statue of Poseidon. It also has a pleasant restaurant, surrounded by a beautiful garden.
We got the chance to visit the ancient Agora of which only two buildings remain intact. We were particularly interested in seeing the Temple of Hefestos, which according to reports, is the best-preserved ancient Greek temple. It certainly is very impressive; one only wishes that access were a little easier.
After this exciting, but somewhat risky, adventure we went out to the nearby streets of the Monastiraki quarter, before heading up to see Hadrian's Library and the beautiful Tower of the Winds, which was splendid.
The following day we committed the grave error of trying to visit the National Garden. After the wonderful experience of Keukenhof, it was a sad surprise to find Athens’ National Garden so untidy and uncared for.
The day, however, was saved by a trip to Mount Lycabettus. It is the highest point of Athens, which we reached by a funicular railway, to enjoy the views over the city and the Saronic Gulf beyond. Also home to a pleasant bar and orthodox church, the place is quite spectacular.
We enjoyed a brief look at the Arch of Hadrian, the Temple of Olympian Zeus and the Theatre of Dionysus. The Temple of Olympian Zeus is still very spectacular, although it was destroyed hundreds of years ago by an earthquake and only a dozen or so of its columns remain.
Our last day was spent on the hills surrounding the city and visiting Kaisariani Monastery. Like almost all the places we visited in Athens, it would have been even more beautiful with better upkeep, but the building and its location was still spectacular.
To tell you the truth, after enjoying the extraordinary tidiness of Holland, the chaos and disorder found in many parts of Athens was a stark contrast. It was certainly a real blessing to be in such a luxurious hotel and in general we enjoyed our stay very much.”