The Speedrunner 3 is a high speed catamaran - the downside being that a small outside deck is only available to those in the first class salon. However, it is very spacious and comfortable in economy and I have a window seat and there is access to a small cafe for tea and pastries.
Despite being confined to a fixed seat, the journey is enjoyable, not too packed and plenty of opportunity for people watching - mainly Greek families returning to Athens from the islands.
Through the salt stained windows we take in the last remaining views of the islands and then eventually the mainland. As we approach Piraeus, in the distance sitting on the shoreline we make out the distinctive outline of the Peace and Friendship Stadium.
Jutting out of the city skyline is Lycabettus Hill, nearly 1000 feet high limestone rock and the highest hill in Athens. Legend has it that Lycabettus was once inhabited by wolves - hence the name meaning mountain of wolves.
We sail past huge cruise liners and eventually into Piraeus port. Our old friend Blue Star Paros is moored at the quayside awaiting her next trip out to the islands.
Once we have disembarked, we make our way over to the
Metro station which is 5 minute’s walk from the port.
This is the view of the port where we boarded and disembarked at Gate E7 (Departures for the Eastern Cyclades).
Turn left out of the port and keep walking until you reach the link bridge that takes you over the main road right down to the entrance of the metro station on your left.
View of the port from the link bridge - Blue Staros Poros in port. You can see how close the metro is to the port.
As you walk into the metro station the ticket counter is on your right. We are going to Monastiraki which is the green line and takes less than 20 minutes.
We are staying at the Attalos Hotel just 5 minutes walk from Monastiraki metro station. Thanks to Matt Barrett - Matt Barrett Travel Guides for the recommendation!
We arrive at Monastiraki in the early evening and the area is buzzing with activity. The first thing we come across by the flea market is what looks like a beauty contest with the contestants all lined up and a predominantly male audience eager to get a better view! Unfortunately my camera wasn't handy to capture this scene!
After getting our bearings we head towards Athinas Street and within 5 minutes we are at the hotel. The Attalos is so well located. According to their website - http://www.attaloshotel.com/location.php
Hotel Attalos is located in the center of the Athens, at Athinas Street. Athinas, a lively street, is at the heart of the city extending from Omonia Square to Monastiraki and captures the sights, sounds and local colour of downtown Athens. The Attalos hotel is conveniently situated for easy access to Athensʼ most important historical monuments, shopping districts, as well as restaurants and bars, giving you the chance to enjoy Athens famous nightlife.
Several cocktails later we decide to make a move and go to Plaka to eat. Plaka has been desribed as a traditional village in the middle of the city. It's pretty winding streets give much appreciated shade on the walk up to the Acropolis.
I've made a conscious decision not to take the camera with me this evening. Sometimes the camera becomes everything and it's nice to go out without it every now and again.
We find a nice taverna to eat in. After the meal we walk up to Mars Hill (Areopagus) to take in the sight over Athens by night. This is a very popular place to gather on summer evenings and offers a spectacular view over the city. I get a little touch of vertigo so we don't stay too long.
We don't stay out too late as plan to get up at the crack of dawn to be at the Acropolis before the queues!