In order to get back to Italy from our Greek island, we had to travel via Athens which turned out to be a revelation. Last time I was in Athens I was 18, and all I remembered was the crowded litter-strewn Acropolis. How very much better it all seems now, despite the country’s economic difficulties.
The flight was under an hour and the stewardesses were the most gorgeous I’ve ever seen. The journey by metro to the city centre was simple, though it actually took longer than the flight. Our hotel, Acropolis House, was quirky and enjoyable. The bedroom ceiling looked streaky and messy until I discovered that it held the remains of a fresco which had collapsed in an earthquake. They’re hoping for a government grant to restore it, but in the present economic climate it’s unlikely to happen.
Best of all was the new Acropolis museum, world class both in its architecture and contents. If anything might justify the return of the Elgin Marbles this could be it, although I’m not in favour. Parts of the museum had glass floors so that the ancient remains could be clearly seem beneath. The slope up to the main floor was lined with glass cases containing small finds, all from around the Acropolis. Lunch in the museum’s restaurant was superb. There’s a terrace facing the Acropolis where the menu is good value and excellent.
With reluctance we next headed for Milan to get back to dear old Montebello. The flight was full and they asked for volunteers to put bags into the hold. We agreed, provided the flight was on time. They assured me it was, but we left 45 minutes late. I hate stressful journeys: we had a train to catch from Milan and were worried about the bus from the airport. In our rush, we stupidly caught the airport shuttle bus instead of the bus to the city centre so we wasted a further 20 minutes going round the terminals. What a relief it was to jump on the train and relax with only 10 minutes to spare.