Thursday, February 19, 2009

Travelling to Athens

The taxi is waiting on time - 4am. At Leeds Bradford I have breakfast. Slightly pathetic ambience. The flight to AMS leave on time, I arrive 25 minutes earlier than scheduled in Schiphol. Not much time for browsing around, have to go to Gate C9, to the Schengen area. Sitting in the next plane, I see my suitcase as it moves into the plane on the conveyor belt.

Flying over Germany - it is snowy down there. I sleep a bit. When I wake up I see the Alps: Inntal, Oberaudorf, Scheffau, Wilder Kaiser. I identify Kitzbuehel, then the Grossglockner. A warm roll is served, together with a box of small things, among them a salad. I wanted to read more, but fall again asleep. Snow also above the Macedonian mountains. Then preparing for landing.

Islands, costs, towns, olive trees. Some archaeological digs. Landing at the Athens airport. Quite modern, just opened a few years ago. My suitcase comes almost last. The directions towards the train station are unclear: the Greek wording for "to Metro" is crossed out, but the English version "To Trains" still stands, so I follow the signs. A bright sun hits the eye, blue sky. But not warm.

Indeed, the Metro is not going since a few days, due to construction work, but the "Suburban Train" is. I had not read about that suburban train anywhere on the web, but on my map printout I see it as the dashed line.

The first sight outside of the airport: the big blue/yellow IKEA. As always, this is comforting and worrying at the same time: comforting, because in case I would ever move to here, I could get inexpensive decent furniture. Discomforting, because this globalisation removes the individual experience of regions in the world. The IKEA store was also one of the first things I had seen in Beijing in summer 2007. There were three IKEAs in Los Angeles. There is one in Leeds. One in Munich. They are everywhere. Ok, the world is growing together, and some common standards are getting accepted. But it is also a bit sad, to see these blue box buildings in every corner of the world. I had not seen one in India...

The suburban train goes quite fast: my GPS shows 176 km/h. Get off at the station Nepatziotissa, then change to the metro green line. Quite a long distance into town still. One more change of trains, to the red line, then I walk out of the subway station exit. As I am trying to locate my hotel, I realise that I forgot to print the map. I vaguely remember that it is two blocks north of the station, so I begin to walk in the direction. It is sunny, so I do not mind. Soon I realise that I am in the wrong street - need to be one parallel. Finally arrive at the hotel "Titania".

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