Friday, August 29

Steve: Our trip to Athens on Olympic Airways was uneventful, and the airports both in Istanbul and Athens were surprisingly modern and civilized. Paula and I still remember the chaos when we arrived in Athens in 1982, and the new airport here is obviously a huge improvement.

We had a chance and very interesting encounter at the Istanbul airport with the CEO of Lonely Planet. I was sitting at the gate reading my Lonely Planet book on Athens, when a woman sitting nearby asked me how I liked the book. I told her that we loved the Lonely Planet books, and that we probably owned 30 of them (which is true!). She asked me a couple more questions about what specifically we liked about it, and then told me who she was. Her name is Judy Slatyer, and she just recently became the CEO. She was returning to Melbourne (Lonely Planet's corporate headquarters) after a trip to several countries where she was meeting with the various authors of each book. We had a very interesting discussion, and Paula and I shared our thoughts and recommendations regarding the Lonely Planet guides. She also wanted to understand more about us (what magazines we read, what radio we listen to, etc.), since we represent a segment that Lonely Planet wants to target. We also told Judy all about TravelingEd and Servas, in the hope that there could be some mutually beneficial relationships there. Judy invited us to e-mail her throughout our travels regarding any thoughts or ideas we have for the Lonely Planet books. She also invited us to visit their offices when we're in Melbourne next year. We'll definitely take her up on both of these opportunities!

Athens looks much like we remember it - big, dry, smoggy and HOT. Today it was 37 degrees Celsius, which is 98 Fahrenheit. We heard that tomorrow it's supposed to be 42 degrees Celsuis, and our math says that's 108 Fahrenheit! WOW. We are wondering how the athletes will manage to compete in the heat (and smog) during next year's Olympics. It's hard to imagine…

Our hotel is in a great location, right beneath the Acropolis. However, today we decided not to spend too much time outside in the heat of the afternoon. Instead, we had lunch at a café in the Plaka area of Athens, located beside the Acropolis. This is an area of narrow streets lined with shops and restaurants. We assume that it must get busy at night, but there weren't many people on the streets during the day.

After lunch, we returned to our hotel and spent the afternoon watching a 3-hour DVD documentary on Greek history. David and Katie seemed to really enjoy watching this, and are eager to see the Parthenon and other sites on the Acropolis tomorrow. We plan to arrive there at 8:00 when it opens, so that we can enjoy exploring the area before the heat becomes too much.

We were also very happy to find a Post Office that sells and ships boxes. We've been trying to send books and souvenirs home after each place we visit, but this has usually been a difficult task. Many Post Offices don't sell boxes, and some are not set up to ship parcels to the U.S. We're currently carrying way too much from Russia and now Istanbul, and our bags are ready to burst. It may sound minor, but this is a big relief for us…

One other thing we quickly noticed is that the street signs all include the Latin translation for the Greek words. This makes it possible to tell where we are on a map, and is much easier than when were in Russia.

Tomorrow we'll also make some decisions about how to spend the rest of our time here in Greece. We're leaning toward taking organized bus tours to Delphi and Mycenae - we'd like to see these sites, but have been advised against renting a car in Greece.

Distance Walked: 1.04 miles












Next Day
Prior Day