Athens: Day 2

Day 2:

I awoke with eager anticipation at 6:45 am. I had heard the Indonesian guy I spent yesterday evening with get up and leave for 5, and resumed sleeping once the noise had settled.  After remaining in bed as long as I could, I finally started getting ready for the day. I packed as little as I could for the day as I knew I had quite a journey getting there, and did not want to be carrying an excessive amount of stuff in my backpack. Sun cream on and sunglasses at the ready, I made my way downstairs and made myself a cup of green tea, as I had remembered to bring some from home. There is a limited free breakfast provided by the hostel, but I did not indulge. 7:30 and I was out and ready for the day.

To get to Vouliagmeni Lake, I needed to take the metro from Acropoli to Elliniko, this being the last stop on the red line, taking 40 minutes by metro. From Elliniko, I needed to take bus 122 to the stop ‘λίμνη’, translating to Lake in English.  At Acropoli station I brought a 5 day metro card, costing me 10 euros. The card covered travel by metro, bus, and tram. This would cover the 122 bus too from Elliniko – perfect, I thought. The metro journey was relatively busy and seemed much shorter than 40 minutes. At Ellinko station there were queues for the escalators out of the station, despite the heat I walked up the stairs and headed out towards the crows of people at the bus stop. There must have been at least 200 people waiting for the bus and no way the bus could fit everyone. A few minutes later and the bus arrived, followed by the mass of people moving towards the moving bus. The locals were not going to miss the opportunity to get on the bus, and as it pulled up to the stop, locals were banging their hands on the side of the bus in attempt to stop the driver so that they were positioned in front of the door. The doors opened and the crowds pushed, if I had not been amongst them and unable to turn back, I would have been happy to wait for the next bus, though no one else seemed to want to wait. I was moved onto the bus and had barely enough room to breathe, with everyone standing on each other’s feet. This bus was packed to the maximum, perhaps to an unsafe capacity.

I had not enough space to check my phone for directions and stop after stop more and more people seemed to be getting on, and no one appeared to be leaving the bus. Eventually I asked a local for directions, which I got a Greek response. The guy standing next to me became our translator, but still the locals had never heard of Vouliagmeni Lake. Eventually I was directed to get off at ‘LOK’. Sounding similar to ‘Lake’ I took their advice and struggled my way to the doors. I was 2 stops premature to λίμνη, and lok was a 20 minute walk from the lake. I waited for the next bus, which was empty, and continued my journey, getting off 2 stops later.

The lake is situated amongst limestone caves, and when getting off the bus, if it were not for 2 people walking with beach towels down a driveway, I would not have known where to go. I followed them, past the beach on the other side of the road, and found my way at the entrance. It was 9 am, and only a few others were there. I got first pick of sunbeds and situated myself by the edge of the water, not too close as for my stuff to get wet, but close enough to keep an eye on my belongings whilst taking a swim.

Surroundings from bus stop

It was 32 degrees already and the temperature of the water was a consistent 29 all day.  I took to the steps and the water seemed freezing, I scoffed at the board advertising the water as 29 degrees, this was quickly forgotten as the Dr fish surrounded my feet and started nibbling at my toes. Oh no. I think the look on my face said it all, as some woman looked at me and giggled. The sensation was like pins and needles, but resulted in a tickling sensation. I bravely stepped further into the lake and attempted to adjust to the coldness. As long as I kept moving the fish wouldn’t disturb me, and I swam into the middle of the lake. The water is said to contain vitamins and minerals, allowing it to be a certified natural healing destination. I noted that those there were mainly locals, minus the tourists who I spoke to being told by their taxi drivers to visit the lake.

Throughout the day I got used to the sensation of the fish, and one of two American girls I was talking to stated that it was like getting ‘hundreds of kisses’, this made me smile, and I reminded myself that people pay excessive amounts of money for this spa treatment just on their feet, and for 8 euros, I had spent the entire day having the fish work on my arms, legs, and feet! I took back to the lounger and finished my book I had started reading the day before. Lunch time!

There was a little restaurant next to the area where the sun loungers and umbrellas were, which seemed to always be busy. I wandered over and found myself a table outside. The waiter took a while to come over, but there was 1 waitress and another individual serving tables. I was in no hurry and so the wait did not phase me. Soon enough I had placed my order: a Greek salad and complimentary fries, the salad would be enough but the additional item was a bonus. I ordered some ice and water and to my relief it was brought over almost immediately. Temperatures were at 36 degrees now, and the heat could be felt even in the shade. My food arrived 10 minutes after the water, and was delightful. I enjoyed my meal, paid the bill of 13 euros, which was not bad considering it was a restaurant in an isolated area, where those visiting would depend on the food provided, and then took my place back on the sun lounger.

Lunch!

The rest of the day was a matter of swimming and lounging, listening to music, and talking to those around me. Before leaving I made my way to the showering area, and although the sign said not to use cosmetics, I managed to successfully shower and wash my hair, as a bus journey covered in the deposit from the lake (as the magnesium and other minerals formed a layer on your skin when in the lake) would have been uncomfortable. I had decided to leave at about 6:15, saying goodbye to the gentleman from Romania I was talking to, and heading out to the bus stop, waiting patiently for the bus that was anticipated to arrive in 7 minutes time. The journey would be 40 minutes back to Ellinko, and then from there back to Acropoli.

I arrived back about 8pm as I stopped off to buy some juice before getting the metro back to Acropoli, and once arriving back I met the Indonesian guy in the dorm and we headed to the roof top bar once more, just for the views of the Acropolis rather than for the actual bar. We had been given free shots of Ouzo on arrival by the receptionist, but neither of us redeemed them during our stay, nor brought any alcohol from the bar, it served merely as a lookout point.

We headed out to ‘Liondi’ situated around the corner from our hostel which advertised traditional Greek food. We had a reservation for 9:15, but upon arrival were asked to wait a further 20 minutes, arriving back 20 minutes later we still had yet to find a table. We received free drinks as an apology and complimentary dessert after our meal. I ordered Moussaka and my dinner companion followed suit. This restaurant set the bar high, as the Moussaka was so good, for my final meal in Athens I headed back to the same place and Moussaka featured as part of my meal.  Dinner was wonderful and we exchanged what we got up to during that day, as he was heading off to Istanbul tomorrow and it would be our final night together. We finished up and in total my bill was 9 euros – incredible!

Tomorrow I’d stay in Athens and see the Temple of Zeus, and after a early start to the day and late finish, an early night was needed. We walked back to the hostel and found the others in the dorm, having all introduced ourselves and spoken for a little while we all got into bed and said our goodnight’s.

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