Manchester to Athens – Take 2!

I left Manchester on a typically grey and dark, dank day.  Apart from its two football teams, it’s what the city is known for.  That’s why cotton weaving mills were once so prevalent in the area – perfect humid and damp conditions.  Shortly after boarding the Aegean Airline Airbus A320, we taxied out onto the runway which was barely visible through the rain-streaked windows.  We blasted off into the sky and I watched the trails of rain rotate on the window, vertical to diagonal and then horizontal until we levelled out and were above the clouds.

We were advised by the captain to expect some turbulence over Germany.  It was thick cloud down below so I immersed myself in a good film – today’s choice was The Whale.  By the time the film had finished, the visibility below was clear but I’d lost track of where we were.  I like to pinpoint the plane’s location by certain landmarks – the snow-capped Alps being a good indicator and also the Croatian islands.  Today however, the flight path is slightly different to the usual one taken with Easyjet.  I see what I think are the peninsulas of Halkadiki which are easily identifiable.  Soon after I recognised Skiathos with its very short runway and famous for its unique landing experience or temporary facelift as I like to call it.  Evia is somewhere under the plane and soon after, I recognise the port of Piraeus.  There is a large Blue Star heading in the direction of Paros/Naxos.

As the plane begins to drop in altitude, the large quarry near Agios Triada and the motorway network comes into view.  Not long to go now.

Disembarkation is swift as is the security check and luggage reclaim and I make a mental note to fly with Aegean more often.  I make my way to the train and metro concourse and purchase a ticket to Monastiraki.  The metro is packed with not only tourists but airport staff finishing work.  Rush hour isn’t the best time to travel on public transport but the metro is clean and efficient and a nice journey if you’re able to get a seat – which thankfully I am.

Once at Monastiraki, the Attalos is a short walk away – almost a home from home.  The staff here did an absolutely brilliant job of finding me a room for my stay.  After my previous flight was cancelled, all of my itinerary had to be re-planned and hotel rooms re-booked.  The Attalos didn’t have any availability for my new dates but very kindly set about ringing around until they found a cancellation for which I’m wholly grateful.

My time here is going to be really limited but I’ve made it to Athens this time and so it looks promising for the rest of the trip. I head up to the roof terrace for a celebratory gin and tonic! I just about manage to squeeze a view of the Acropolis in!

Later that evening I take the short walk into the centre of Psiri for dinner. I was looking for Simposio Sto Psiri, a lovely traditional taverna that I’d eaten at in March. I did get a little lost wandering through the streets (easy to do) and ended up at Εν Ιορδάνη (En Iordáni) which claims to be the oldest original traditional taverna in Psyri. It is rather busy but they do have a free table for me. There is so much choice on the menu that it takes me some time to wade through it but I settle on fava to start and an oven-roasted leg of chicken with orzo – of course washed down with a quarter of white wine!

The night is still young and I’m very tempted to head down to Ermou to spot a bit of street entertainment. However, the inner (and the outer) Grandma in me tells me to head back to the hotel for an early night. I’m quite disappointed in myself though tomorrow I have another day of travel. I do have enough time however, to check out a few bits of graffiti to add to my collection.


After a refreshing night’s sleep I take the stairs down to the hotel’s dining room for breakfast. A little Greek yoghurt with peaches, various squares of melon and a naughty mini pain au chocolate will more than suffice.

I have a couple of hours before I need to leave Athens which gives me just enough time to have a quick mooch around Athinas Street and head down Ermou say hello to the Evzones. What kind of girl fan would I be if I couldn’t walk to Syntagma Square to pay my respects.

In March I was able to see the Grand Parade with the Evzones dressed in full ceremonial costume and also in the winter navy blue. Today they are in the summer khaki. God knows how they coped in the recent heat waves though of course, I did see video clips on social media of their brows being mopped by the on-duty soldiers.

As I stand at the front of a very small crowd of people (the crowds begin to build prior to the changing of the guard every hour on the hour) I get a familiar and yet very unwelcome feeling. Yes, Stavros the gallbladder and absolute bain of my life makes his presence felt. Starting with mild discomfort under my rib cage and gradually increasing to an unbearable stabbing pain. The pain is so acute it takes my breath away and sweat begins to run down my face. This is getting beyond a joke. It’s like Stavros knows when I’m travelling and wants to do his best to disrupt my plans.

I find a kiosk where I buy a small bottle of water. I find a bit of shade on the edge of Syntagma square and throw back a couple of pain killers to stave off the agony. 30 minutes later the pain has subsided. I have to hope that this is just a blip. I haven’t had an attack for two months and there is no pattern to when, how and why they happen. I’m going to take a chance and head off to my next destination. Fingers crossed that Stavros behaves himself. If I have to cut this trip short I’ll be cutting him out myself!

Yep – seriously thinking about changing the name of my blog to Travels with my Gallbladder!

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