Electronic communications

Friday 6 September continued

As soon as I arrived in my room, I’d turned on my iPad, and the free wifi in Attalos kicked in immediately, because the password hadn’t changed from last year. Excellent!

However I still needed access to a phone so before I went to dinner on the Friday night, I went out to get a Greek SIM card. I don’t know what it’s like for other Europeans or people from the Americas, but for Australians, mobile and data roaming charges are ruinous, so a Greek card works out a lot cheaper, even if you recharge it a few times.

Even though it was 7pm on a Friday night, the shops were still open, so taking my passport with me because you need it to buy a SIM card, I sallied forth to the left out of the hotel up Athinas to the first set of traffic lights. I turned right up Evripidou and continued till I came to a Cosmote shop called Germanos. If you have to ask your way there, it’s pronounced Yermanos.

They were out of sims but directed me to the Wind shop next door, where a really helpful young lady sorted me out with various “packets”, 100 minutes to any phone in Australia and New Zealand, 200 minutes to any phone in Greece, and 500 mb of data, for less than 20€. The “number” itself is free. She downloaded an app for me that sends your SMS over the Internet. Just turn on your 3G and send your SMS as usual, and the app does the rest automatically. Turn off your 3G afterwards so that you don’t use all your downloads up.

You can buy a recharge voucher at one of the myriad kiosks along the streets for any of the various packets without having to recharge the lot.

 

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Arrived!

Friday 6 September

Emirates is a really nice airline. Too bad I only flew economy. The upstairs part of the airbus looked really nice from the bottom of the stairs!

There’s also wifi available on all planes. Problem was, I didn’t read the fine print and forked out US$7.50 for 15 mb which disappeared twenty-five seconds after I opened Google Maps.

Luckily the pilot didn’t need my assistance and we arrived at Athens airport right on time at 2:05pm. Straight through Customs without a bag check and up to the Metro to Monastiraki Station and checked in about 3:30pm. My room at Attalos is a cute little asymmetrical single.

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The bathroom uses every tiny bit of space and requires a bit of manoeuvring around the door, but it’s newly fitted out, very pleasant and has a 20 cm2 shower head. Luxury!

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I had an epiphany the first time I used it as to why Greek hotels mostly use shower curtains instead of fitted shower doors. I think it’s because of how clever they are at using space, and as many of the baths and showers are non-standard sizes, if they used doors they’d mostly have to be custom built. That’s my theory anyway.

Unpacked and got myself sorted. My things all basically fit into my carry-on bag, so I packed it inside my suitcase. I picked up that neat trick from a lady on a trip to Bali and Hong Kong in 1979. I’ve never used it, because I’ve always taken too much stuff with me, but this time I went minimal, so I have more room to bring home whatever I buy here.

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Went out for dinner and live rebetika at Dioscuri near the ancient agora. Napoleon Saripanidis, whom we heard last year, wasn’t playing, but one of the guys he’d played with was, with another bouzouki player, and a girl with a great voice. Rebetika really stirs me; the rhythms, the harmonies and the passion – I just love it.

On the way

Here I am in the breakfast room at Hotel Attalos, Athens, on my second mug of tea. I can’t be having with those minuscule hotel cups and always ask for a mug, which the lovely staff are always happy to provide. Feeling really good.

So how did this start? Well, work’s been really intense for the last three months, and I’d just about completed the project, so on Sunday night I decided, “I want to go overseas. I have a month before the Australian Masters in Geelong, and I want to spend it in Europe.”

I started by looking at Italy. So many places there I’d like to see. I realised though that as I hadn’t been to Italy before, I needed to research and plan the trip. There was no time to plan, so I decided to go to Greece again. I’ve been twice before so I know my way around a bit, so the decision was made.

On Monday I asked my boss for the time off, and on Thursday I was on the plane.

Yeah baby, ‘cos that’s the way I roll!

I found out that travelling via Dubai is a lot more direct than flying via Guangzhou and Amsterdam. Who knew! 24 hours opposed to 34 last time when I went with Connal, had an extra week and was chasing cheapest flights. Also was able to use 315,000 QANTAS frequent flyer points so the flights cost $108 total. Way to go!

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