Since I’ve been back in London I’ve worked three days and had three train crises. Almost made me miss Athens until I remembered the transport chaos we experienced on our third morning there. We’d had a small taster the day before, when we’d attempted to buy tickets at the tram terminus only to find a hole where the ticket machine should be. I’d found a functioning machine in the metro station and made a strategic error in not buying all the tickets we needed for the rest of the holiday then.
Because this morning our faithful ticket machine at Kalamaki had run out of paper. I’d read somewhere that you could recharge paper tickets so I tried using the ones we’d bought yesterday but that didn’t work. I also had some vague recollection that you could buy Ath.ena tickets from a kiosk but we didn’t see any kiosks that seemed to be selling any. Our best option was to walk 600m to the next tram stop – Marina Alimos – and get one there. The next best option was to walk 600m to the next tram stop and fail to get one there, duck through the bushes and get spiked by a vicious plant. For reasons unknown we went with that plan and, staggering about in excruciating pain from spike in my back, we made a Plan C.
Plan C involved not passing out from the pain – win! – and throwing ourselves on the mercy of a Greek bus driver – win#2! We asked if we could pay in cash on the bus, he said we had to find a ticket machine, I explained there were no functioning ticket machines and he seemed unsurprised. So he let us fare dodge for a few stops to Parc Flisvos.
Yes, this is where we’d planned to go all along. It had just involved a bit more fuss than I’d anticipated. Parc Flisvos is a big park by the sea that promised all sorts of delights and we fancied checking it out. Most of the Google reviews were very flattering, although one gave us cause for concern. It was written in Greek and Google obviously had had a stab at translating it but I feel like the original author’s intentions may have been lost in translation:
“I do not know what coffee soap they put. I’m afraid of the sea and I suck in black, only to get them, and the guy in the air !!!! Generally unorganized. They could be much better.Hair baths filled with urine on the floor!”
Well, we had to see these hair baths for ourselves. First though, the playground.
The problem with sunshine holidays is that it gets a bit too hot to actually do anything for long and after 20 minutes or so in the playground, the kids were done. So we went to get a drink in the cafe and sat there for ages while the kids played with the toys in the play area. Well, we kinda sat there for ages because the service was a bit slow but it was all fine with us. There were toys and aircon.
Then we went to another playground, then found somewhere shady to have our sandwiches. The bouncy castles caught Reuben’s eye but in 30c heat I thought they might be a bit of a burn hazard as well as a burning-through-our-cash hazard. The toilets had a thin film of water across the floor all the way through (hair baths of urine?) and the giant battleship that I’d thought was a climbing frame because of this photo turned out to be a war memorial and not climbable at all. Overall, Flisvos was turning out to be something of a disappointment.
So we went for a wander along the marina, in search of what Google called “The Floating Museum Fairy” but that was MIA. Luckily though, a good alternative was just round the corner and although it wasn’t free entry as Google had said, it was only 9Euro for all of us and it was a real live battleship, not just a pretend one.
I think this probably saved the day as Eva liked the Admiral’s quarters and Reuben liked the big guns and I liked the cooling sea breeze and the lovely view. I think we’d all learnt a lesson about not trusting everything Google said but it worked out OK in the end.
And what of those tickets? Well, the Parc Flisvos station had the same ticket-machine-sized hole as the others but the Trocadero station – which was the closest one to the Averof – had a functioning machine and we could buy not just tickets home but also tickets for the airport bus the next day. Again, we couldn’t buy half price tickets from the machine and this time we did have to pay for Eva (the airport bus is chargeable for 6+) so the 24Euro we spent altogether was only the most nominal saving on the 39Euro it would have cost to get the airconditioned taxi with the friendly drivers and the chilled water and the lack of having to pound the streets looking for a machine. Oh and the not having to sit on a metre-wide strip of pavement next to a three lanes of traffic for 17 minutes before the bus arrived.
But let’s not dwell on that. Let’s not talk about the return trip to England at all in fact. Or our final evening meal out which was something of a disaster. Let’s say goodbye from the Kalamaki beach, which we hopped back to after our time on the Averof. I hope this somewhat self-indulgent 4-part series has been of some use to someone somewhere who’s planning a trip to Athens with kids. If not, thanks for joining us on the journey. It’ll be back to “rainy Hackney” BAU soon, I promise.