Day 22: Roaming around Historical Athens, Greece and Honest Taxi Drivers
Athens was another place in our “Go-To” places from Greece. We had a day and too much to checkout. Hotel Aquis Mare Nostrum Hotel, Thalasso was not great, which actually pushed us to get out of it as soon as we could and that was after grabbing a quick half decent breakfast. Since, the hotel was in the middle of nowhere we waited at the bus-stop for the bus that would take us to Acropolis. Tickets for this bus needs to be bought beforehand and can be purchased from the shop right in front of the bus stop (very convenient).
Bus dropped us exactly at the Acropolis, it had started to drizzle and since “Madame” does not like walking in the rain we decided to wait under a shelter for sometime. The rain was least concerned about us having only one day in town, so i convinced Aarti to start walking as it was quite some walk to Acropolis.
Before one could actually reach Acropolis there is “Theater of Dionysus” and “Odeon of Herodes” on the way to leave you overwhelmed. “Odeon of Herodes” in particular was marvelous. We kept on walking and soon we were at the entrance, also famously known as “Propylaea”. These ruins was so magnanimous and beautiful, however the maintenance work that was going on kind of killed it for us. Half-heartedly we checked out “Parthenon” and “Erechtheion”, did the customary photo clicks for the “Madame”, sat down to digest all this for a while and started our decent. On the way back, we took a detour from “Propylaea” and went to check out “Areopagus Hill”. It had a nice view of the city for sure 🙂
Next destination on our list was “Lycabettus Hill”, so we decided to hire a taxi but like a smart Indian couple we did not hire any taxi from the taxi stand outside Acropolis and kept on walking towards the main road. In some time a taxi driver driving an old Merc stopped by and asked us if we looking to hire, we bargained and he agreed to drop us there in Euro 20. Once we got in he very smartly offered us to go via the main tourist attractions and the fact that we will stop at all those attractions for 2-5 minutes as well, only if we pay him another Euro 10. Offer was quite good, so we agreed. Then he asked us if we had eaten anything and if we want to go to a nice hotel with local cuisine, off course the answer was no. He was quite talkative, like most of the taxi drivers and soon we were at our detour i.e. Temple of Olympian Zeus.
We spent 10-20 minutes here while he smoked his cigarettes in the car. The Temple was more kind of a big park with big pillars scattered here and there. We clicked few pictures and left for the next tourist destination i.e. Panathenaic Stadium where first Olympics were held.
Athens is a place with absurdly large number of historical places and thanks to this gentleman we were trying to tick off as many as we could 😉
After our customary photograph which he happily offered to click, we got into the car to witness “Change of Guard” at the Syntagma Square. The taxi guy told us that we were in luck as it was about time.
Next and final stop was “Lycabettus Hill” and he offered to wait for us as this location was not frequented by many taxi drivers and to get one could be quite a walk on the way back. We had plans to dine in the restaurant on the hill top so we declined his offered and started our climb.
View from top of Lycabettus hill was quite mesmerizing and it had an ancient Saint George Church as well. After spending quite some time clicking photos and discussing about the Indians who had inscribed their names on the walls up there, we decided to check out the menu. To our surprise, it was more kind of a Deli so Aarti decided to check on her phone what other options were but to her surprise, her phone was gone…
Let me tell you that Aarti is Angry + Hungry = Hangry, things can get preety volatile! She had been postponing her food ever since we got down from the bus, she gave up while we were walking towards the top of Lycabettus hill and i had to push her by reminding her that food sits on the top and now the restaurant did not serve much and to top it all her real husband (yes, she spend more time with her S4 than me) was gone. To say the least, there was panic in the air and we were in the middle of nowhere. After thoroughly checking the bags we were carrying twice, we started walking down with the hope to see that taxi guy waiting for a customer.
It was quite some walk but we were down in no time, we saw one taxi waiting there but it was not the guy who dropped us. Next bulb of hope that lit up was, the taxi guy might have gone back to the same taxi stand at the Acropolis and if we were lucky and had dropped the phone in his taxi then maybe…! However, we did remember him mentioning that it was his grand son’s birthday today and he would be calling it a day early.
We walked towards this taxi guy hoping he was waiting for a customer, but he replied he was waiting for the passenger who went uphill. We told him our story and were happy to see his positive response. He mentioned he is a very lucky guy and in a similar incident sometime back, another passenger who traveled in his taxi was able to find his lost stuff. He also asked us to get in and the fact that he will drop us at Acropolis and come back before his passenger is back down.
We quickly got in and on the way back while he was trying to keep things positive, we were trying to find the face of our taxi guy in every Mercedes taxi we crossed. We reached at Acropolis taxi stand and there he was happily chatting with fellow taxi drivers. We jumped with joy, and the taxi guy who dropped us back further convinced us that he already knew he was lucky and that we would find our old taxi guy. Happily we got down, paid the fare and thanked him a million times.
By this time, our old taxi guy was looking at us with amusement and wondering what we were doing back here. We told him the story and we all literally ran towards his parked taxi. He opened the door of the rear seat and there it was, Aarti true love and her real husband … Samsung Galaxy S 4 <applause> 🙂
We all looked at each other and laughed, high five, hugs and what not. Now it was time to worry about Aarti’s hunger, our taxi guy jumped to the occasion and offered to take us to the place which had the best local food in town. Who were we to say no to him this time, we all boarded his taxi and reached the restaurant. We offered him to dine with us, to which he agreed with some pushing. We topped up our food with some nice local desert.
The food was indeed delicious and once he dropped us at the bus stop we made sure we bid him good bye with the same smile on his face, the one we had when we found Aarti’s phone.
Journey back to the hotel was another hour. We were pretty tired with the days activities and happily ignored the dance floor that welcomed us when we entered the hotel.
The whole experience left a lingering smile on our face with the wish to visit Athens again, some time in the future.