Last Greek sketch and unpleasantness in Athens
After Hydra we sailed to Poros and then the day after sailed to Aegina (which is the closest island to Athens). Xavier loved the bird-shaped handle on the public water tap and asked me to sketch it for him. The following day we had to return the boat to the Athens marina and had several hours to fill before meeting up with Robin and the luggage at the airport. Athens has never been high on my list of world cities to visit (probably because an old well travelled aunt of mine had worked there and had never rated it). However as we had time to kill we thought we’d visit the Acropolis and the surrounding area. As we got on the tram I was separated by crowds from three of my four children and was struggling to hold onto my six year old, Xavier. The older children shrugged and assumed I was being a ‘crazy lady’ when they heard me shouting at some of the fellow passengers – little knowing that I had realised that I was the target for a clever team of pickpockets and that if I didn’t scream and shout and generally make a huge fuss we were going to be penniless, with no means of getting ourselves to the airport. I think the pickpockets found it difficult to get their thieving hands past the sketching materials loading down my bag so luckily they didn’t get away with it. After that experience I sensibly decided to spread my cash around the children so that if one of us was pickpocketed again there would still be money on one of the others.
The Greek islands are so lovely – and people are so trustworthy, but Athens is a completely different story. The Acropolis, of course, is fascinating and amazing, however as far as the rest of it is concerned I’m inclined to agree with this phrase plucked out of Wikipedia ‘Athens seems entirely to be composed of nasty, four- to six-story concrete buildings, lacking character and badly in need of a paint’. I’m sure that as Wikipedia also says there are hidden gems and that the Olympics has improved things, but quite honestly if I’m visiting a city, there are so many cities in Europe with so much more to offer that I think a one day visit to the Acropolis is going to be the only experience of Athens I’ll want in my lifetime.