AWAY TRIP REVIEW: GREECE
Athens may be the cradle of western civilisation with a history and culture that stretches back millennia. But beyond the preserved tourist spots, the modern reality of the Greek capital is that of a built up urban jungle choking in car fumes and streets of graffitied decay. At least there are fewer stray dogs roaming around than 21 years ago when Ireland last played here.
The Acropolis is one of the great tourist spots of the world. Justifiably so, despite the enormous queues to get to the Parthenon. Also worth visiting; the Panatheniac Stadium, scene of the first modern Olympic Games back in 1896. A 19th century stadium that’s in better condition that some Airtricity League grounds I could mention.
Three million Greeks call Athens home, they are easy going, mostly English speaking and massive fare dodgers. Every other time I exited a metro ticket barrier, a local without a ticket was tailgating behind me.
Subsisted on souvlakis and gyros, the Greek fast food. Widely available in London but better in its country of origin. Only at gourmet burger joints can you find proper chips in Greece.
Alfa and Mamos beers were great, Mythos not so much. Didn’t try ouzo until forced to because The Athens Sports Bar ran out of vodka.
The OPAP Arena 30 minutes north east of central Athens is your standard new build concrete bowl of a stadium, nothing particularly great or bad about it. But memories of the place will forever be tainted by the crush, chaos and disorganisation outside the away entrances that could so easily have resulted in fatalities.
Bottled water from the vending machines at the Acropolis was just 50 cents! If this had been in London, it would have been £2.00. Guaranteed.