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Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Night at The Hilton

When we arrived at the Athens airport, very early on Tuesday morning we had already decided to stay in Greece for a while. I haven't been here before although Linda had, about twenty-five years ago. I asked the State Department assistant who helped us through customs and he didn't have much in the way of suggestions beyond the Hilton, where State puts up visitors.

I knew it would be pricey but why not stay there until we find another hotel. We headed out by taxi for the 35 Euro ($48) ride to town. We're not in Cairo anymore! $5 gets you a long way in a Cairo cab. Maybe as far as $48 here.

We checked in at just about 5:00 a.m. and the Hilton had a room for a mere 199 Euros ($275). Would I like breakfast included for an additional 32.50 Euro? Thanks, but lets skip that! I was almost afraid to mention having Linda with me. But there was no additional charge for her. I signed up for two nights. When I left the counter, another lucky evacuee was arguing the early check-in charge for a one-night stay.

The Hilton, as is sometimes the case, is a long way from anything "touristy" in Athens. We slept and then went out for a walk passing nearby embassies and financial buildings. We probably hiked a good mile before we found anything interesting for lunch. After passing a couple of ladies in full length furs we found ourselves on the Greek equivalent of Rodeo Drive.

We stopped for lunch at this restaurant. Almost all eating seems to take place outside. We had been looking for a gyros sandwich but took advantage of the chi-chi area instead.
Hotel1-3 Hotel1-1

Another mile and a half and we were in the center of the city. Museums, ruins, cute shops, everything a tourist would want. We started looking at rooms in the small hotels and finally found ourselves in a family operated hotel with an Acropolis view. Price: 65 Euros, the exact same as two breakfasts at the Hilton! Was breakfast included? "Of course!" said the smiling lady behind the desk. We took a taxi back to the Hilton. We spent that night at the Hilton enjoying the large room. We were watching CNN and the BBC while I caught up on blog postings. No Al-Jazeera to be found.

On Wednesday morning, we checked for breakfast alternatives at the Hilton. We already knew there were none outside in the immediate area. All we could find was that 32.50 Euro breakfast plus a slightly lower priced Continental version.

What's the difference? Probably an omelet, judging from another menu.

Who stays at these places and pays $51 each for breakfast? (did I mention there is a 13% tax on food and beverage?) Well Ernst and Young were having a meeting here, on this day. No wonder the auditors' rates are so high.

We managed to coax someone to give us a plate of bread and some yogurt for about $35.

Then there is the Internet. At the Hilton it runs $25 a day. At our new hotel, it is free just like our delightful breakfast. The Hilton managed to give us the connection in a way that caused all e-mail recipients using Cox or Comcast to bounce it back as invalid. I was halfway inclined to stay another day so I could figure out how they managed to do it!

So here we sit at the Athens Center Square hotel right across from the meat market and literally in the vegetable market. Very interesting.

I'll check that view one more time before going to bed,

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