Escape From Athens

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This post is mostly a rant but generally a description of how terrible our trip to the Athens Airport was. I have included a map of the Athens Metro so you can kind of see our journey.

Yesterday, March 23 we noticed a sign in the Metro saying the train drivers were on strike, so we had to take a bus to the airport. Which, was fine because we already knew which bus we could take, the x95 at Syntagma Station. Normally a strike wouldn’t phase us, it happens, right?

This morning the  check out time from our hostel was at 10:30. We decided at 11 we would leave for the airport. Even though we didn’t have to be at the airport until 2 and the x95 takes an hour to get us to the airport. We didn’t mind the idea of hanging out at the airport because we just wanted to get out of Athens.

Our hostel was next to the “Akropoli station” on the red line. we needed to get to “Syntagma” on the red and blue line, but we decided we would walk to Syntagma. Gavin had walked to Syntagma earlier that morning and noticed about 50 or so nicely dressed police officers and assumed it was security for something. By the time we arrived to Syntagma to catch our bus to the Airport we saw almost every police officer Athens had lining the streets. Streets were blocked off, officers were wearing gas masks and riot gear. We had reached Syntagma square only to see the entire square was barricaded off and the street where our bus should have been, was filled with armoured police vehicles and and armoured busses.

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A Photo of some tourists in Syntagma Square

Gavin and I were terrified. We didn’t know if there was a riot that was going to happen or if there was something to do with civil unrest. All we knew was that we couldn’t take a train to the airport and that the bus we should be taking was not stopping where we needed it to. We decided that we would walk to the train at Monastiraki station on the blue and green line and ride the blue line as far as we could to the airport then take a bus.

Unfortunately, we got lost trying to find this other train station and after a while of wandering ended up at “Omonia” station on the red line. We hopped a train from Omonia station trying to get to Syntagma Station so we could switch to the blue line And get to the airport. Unfortunately again, we took the wrong train and went to “Larissa Station”. We got off that train hopped onto another train towards Syntagma. As we were on the new train there was an announcement. Completely in Greek of course. We ignore the announcement and waited to get off the train at Syntagma….which unfortunately cannot happen because the train skipped Syntagma Station. Turns out that announcement was saying that not only was Syntagma square closed but the train station below was also closed.

Somehow, after 40 minutes. We ended up at the stop after Syntagma on the red line. Akropoli station. We actually went in an unintentional circle and ended up right where we started. We realized that since Syntagma was closed the only way we could get on the blue line to the airport was to go back to Omonia. Meanwhile Everyone else was having this same problem so the trains were packed with rush hour traffic on a Sunday morning. We rode from Akropoli to Omonia, switched to the green line and got off at Monastiraki (the train station we got lost walking towards). We jumped on a blue line train at Monastiraki to the airport.

Which if you remember, there was a strike. So we couldn’t get all the way to the airport. The PA systems were so kind to remind us in two separate messages that a) the train was on strike and would not take people to the airport, but you could get the x95 bus at Syntagma station instead and b) on a completely unrelated note, Syntagma station would be closed on the same days as the strike.

As we rode the train to the airport we were so stressed out and kept thinking about how the cab driver had stiffed us ten euros when we first arrived in Athens, and here we were pretty sure that we were going to get ripped off again.

We arrived at the last station the train would take us, Doukissis Plakentias. We got off the train and hailed a cab. The driver said the price would go by the meter and not a flat rate so we were a bit relaxed since we knew we were a 15 minute ride from the airport.

Once we arrived at the airport the rate said €14. But the cab driver handed a receipt for €20 saying we had to pay a tariff. But then he asked for €25 because we had luggage. We relented knowing that we were thankful to even be at the airport.

As we walked into the airport we exchanged heavy sighs and noticed that the time was 2pm. We had taken 3 hours to get to the airport. We reasearched what was going on in Syntagma and it turned out it was the Greek independence day parade for students. The police had blocked off the route so people could not see the parade and to prevent protestors. We were shocked to know that a parade was the reason a city centre was closed down. But honestly we shouldn´t have been surprised, It was Athens…

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