I didn’t have time to waste so I decided to try my luck on the metro, which was just over the road. I walked there and bought a ticket for eight cents, about 3% of the price of the taxi. How glad I was that I did, the journey was quick, clean and efficient, I met some helpful Athenians who gave me an idiot’s guide to the metro and I arrived in the City much sooner even than if I had taken the taxi. I left my bag at the hotel where we had stayed the previous week and I set off to do some serious speed sightseeing.
Without anyone to slow me down I cruised through the Plaka and went straight to the Agora to see the sights that I missed the previous week when we had given up through sheer exhaustion. This was a great site, not as dramatic as the Acropolis but the ancient ruins were in good shape and there was no building work here to spoil it and there were fewer people. I enjoyed myself walking through the streets of ancient Athens and then I walked back to the Plaka via the Roman Agora and the busy tourist shops and I thought again about buying the gladiator helmet but again resisted the temptation. At the Plaka I had my final meal in Greece, I enjoyed saganaki and chicken souvlaki and a couple of Mythos. And then it was time to go, so I paid my bill and returned to the hotel to retrieve my backpack and say goodbye.
After the affair with the robber taxi driver at Piraeus and the alternative efficient metro journey into the city it didn’t even cross my mind to think about a taxi ride back to the airport, so I walked to the train station and purchased a ticket for eight euros and felt smug in the knowledge that I had saved myself about thirty. The metro was constructed in 2004 for the Olympic Games and it was a real delight. It was exceptionally clean and the trains all ran exactly on time. It took about forty minutes to get to the airport and the station was right inside the terminal building.
Once inside departures I scanned the flight information board to find my desk number. My heart sank, next to details of my flight was the dreaded word ‘delayed’. I enquired how long and was told three hours. Oh well, what could I do? I checked in, walked at snails pace around the duty free shops and went for a beer. Actually it was a very nice airport and it even had its own museum displaying items discovered during its construction. It wasn’t very big and I went round it three times to make sure I hadn’t missed anything. And after three times that was impossible, believe me.
For a man with little patience the time passed surprisingly quickly, I didn’t get irritable and pretty soon the plane arrived and I was sitting down in the cabin. During the delay I bought a notepad and decided to begin this journal. The captain explained that they were late because they had had to squeeze in an extra flight to Faro and I speculated on how the company could possibly imagine that this was a reasonable thing to do? But I was comforted by the thought that they wouldn’t be able to claim that they made this one on time and it had spoilt their performance indicators for the month.
The plane took off; I fell asleep and woke up in Luton. I had had a wonderful two weeks and I thought of Sally and Charlotte beginning the next leg of their adventure on Antiparos, without me, and although I was pleased to be home I was sad that I wasn’t with them.