Athens, rainy, early morning and off to a small one day cruise to the Saronic islands. I see a spot of blue overhead and predict hot and sunny afternoon on the sea.
As we leave the Sofitel airport hotel, we are on the highway, and on the overpass a very large Swiss airplane drives along the bridge over the road just above us. Quite the site! The sun is rising in faint pinks and blues in the cloudy skies.
Rolling hills dotted with olive trees and vineyards. Mom asked about eating olives direct from the trees and the cab driver tells us how. If cut, 15 days covered in water, changing the water daily. 30 days if not cut. Olives and grapes grown together, trees protecting vines from winter winds. All four seasons, winter being a short month or two. Some trees can get to be 300 to one thousand years old.
On the bus we joined at hotel Bretagne for our one day cruise.
In the same spot as I was just a few months ago with Steve and Sarah, Sergei, outside Plaka, the market shopping area of Athens. Off to the side, very congested apartment buildings, about half and half rented and owned. 5 million people in Athens, 11.5 in all Greece. Significant unemployment especially for young people. (Double for those under 28 years of age).
Across from the ruins. Stopping at hotels to pick up other passengers. Narrow roads congested with drivers working. Big bus navigates the turns, almost on a quarter, euro!
Lots of motorcycles and scooters are used for transport. Our driver this morning told us of the cities financial issues and housing, employment situation. Quite grim actually. Back to being a tourist and sharing my tourism dollar. Doing my bit for the Greek economy.
Taxis seem to be the only vehicles moving, the streets so narrow with small compact vehicles parked on both sides of street.
Tina is our tour guide and organizer on this bus. She speaks in Greek with the driver, such an intense language, almost angry. I see familiar signage, Shell gas stations, large BMW dealership, there must be money here in addition to the poverty and obvious graffiti. A big city that does not hold a lot of interest for me, but fun being here not too long ago and seeing the familiar.
Olympics were here in 2004 and new highway and other buildings were part of this time. Since then, paying it all back.