Part 1: Where to go and how to get there?
As I had some days off between an internship and restart of university lectures in early October, I decided in late July to spend the time visiting a southern European city. As I'm a student, the holiday shouldn't cost all-too much. On the other hand, there should be some museums/places of historical interest as well as a nice landscape. I originally could think of three cities being interesting for me: Madrid, Lisbon, and Athens (I've already been to Barcelona, Rome and Milan). I finally booked Athens because the sights are the most renown ones, flights fares to LIS were ridiculously high, and up to then I had never travelled much further eastwards than the German-Polish border or Pompeji.
Furthermore, when I booked in late July, A3 had a good offer on their recently started TXL-ATH route (65 Euros), in comparison to the 200+ Euros for the OA service (and which, by the way, would have been cancelled due to their privatization). In order to have as much time in Athens as possible, I booked the late evening return flight with EZY, even though it cost me 108 Euros (one checked bag, no other specials).
[b ]Part 2: Getting to Athens. [/b]
flight: A3 853 TXL-ATH
scheduled: 11:40-15:20 (but 20 minutes delay)
aircraft: Airbus A320-200, SX-DVI "kinesis"
load factor: 100%
From my home to TXL it's around 45 minutes to ride on bus and underground, so not much of a problem. I arrived at the airport 2 hours in advance and proceeded to the check-in counter/gate, which was A12. I had hoped to have a departure out of Terminal D were A3 originally operated from, but in mid-September they had transfered to Terminal A (the "representative space" at TXL, and their new home gate A12 is right aside to the LH gates).
I had already checked in online (not for the sake of saving time - as I still had to check my bag and there was no special drop-off counter - but for being able to chose a nice seat). Nevertheless, the check-in agent looked quite puzzled at my home-printed ticket, said something like that she was unsure whether the gate agents were equipped with scanners for the imprinted black-and-white code (?!), and gave me ad "normal" ticket instead. Dunno what her problem was, as other passengers without checked baggage who directly proceeded to the gate had no problems with their online tickets (still, on the other hand, airport-issued tickets just look nicer IMO).
After that, I had a short stroll around TXL, then went to the gate. Unfortunately, the plane arrived 20 minutes late, but I wasn't much in a hurry. Boarding took place, and after shortly taxiing we had a rolling take-off.
The inflight experience with Aegean Airlines was very good, with nice crew and interior. IFE only consisted of a map depicting the aircraft position and the usual background info, but I don't need anything else on a European flight (actually, I can't stand the sketches/short TV features of AB, for example). Shortly after take-off, service started. We got a free hot meal consisting of two small bread rolls with butter and soft cheese, salt crackers, cheese noodles and a chocolate desert. For drinking I chose orange juice and coffee. I dare say the food was better than some intercontinental menues I've had on LH and DL.
The flight route went over Budapest and Belgrade, and finally we approached ATH from the sea side, which meant that we had a fligh-by over Athens first (great view on the Acropolis and the city, nearly as nice as the approach at SFO). Upon landing, I could spot the four former OA A340s as well several other planes of their former fleet parked there. Does anyone know anything about their fate?
Our plane came to a rest at a remote bus-boarding position. Once inside the terminal building, I noticed that at leat half of the pax headed off towards connecting flights, presumably to the Greek islands. Getting the baggage took quite a long time, because (obviously due to the delay) three A3 flights shared one conveyor belt (from Berlin, Stuttgart, and Mytilene). When I finally got out of the terminal building, it was around 16:30. I took the X95 bus to Syntagma sqare, and had my holiday to begin.
3: 100 hours in Athens and Delphi.
I had booked a room at Myrto Hotel, near Plaka (the old town) and Syntagma Square. The accomodation was quite old and in some places (bathroom) exceedingly shabby, but the location was great for exploring Athens (and I only paid 45 Euros per night in a single room). One day I spend in Delphi, were I got to by taking a public bus from Liossion Bus Terminal.
Definitley worth visiting are the New Acropolis Museum (were replicas are exhibited instead of the "Elgin Marbles" on display at the British Museum) and the National Archeological Museum. A rule for finding a good restaurant in Plaka: Go to were as few as possible other people go (on the high/dark ends of the alleys...). Visit the Acropolis is the afternoon, as even early in the morning the place is full with guided tours, as then the sun-lit side of the Partenon temple is the one not obstructed by a scaffold (so do go there early when you only care about photo shots). For a nice view, climb Filopappos Hill. Delphi is worth visiting, even though currently part of the excavaton area is closed due to recent earthquake with falling rocks.
4: Getting back to Berlin.
flight: EZY 4614 ATH-SXF
scheduled: 21:50-23:45 (but 5 minutes delay)
aircraft: Airbus A319, G-EZBG
load factor: 100%
I took the bus back to ATH airport at 18:40. I arrived there around 19:30, so that I would have enough time to get something to eat and drink, as I didn't like spending any further money during the flight. The whole airport looked quite deserted to me, of the 157 check-in counters, only a handfull was staffed. Check-in was done within one minute, I got issued a "Boarding Group A" ticket. A had some rather bad roasted lamb with rice at the "Food Village Restaurant", and afterwards proceeded to gate B15, strolling along empty, quiet corridors. I whole school class from Germany was also booked on the flight, maybe the reason for the rather high price I've had to pay. The flight to Berlin was the last one this day out of Athens to a European destination other than Greece if I'm not mistaken, something that quite surprised me.
Boarding was delayed by 15 minutes due to the late arrival of the aircraft. When it finally started, I felt quite amused about the three guys who had paid for speedy boarding. I mean, just be at the airport on time, and you'll still board earlier than the others. It was my first flight with easyJet. Having encountered FR before, EZY felt more comfortable, which was maybe due to the more nicely colored cabin and less obvious "plastics atmosphere". The crew was rather gigglish, though.
After a perfectly normal flight, we arrived at SXF on an apron position at Pier 3a. Federal police officers had a passport control of some (foreign looking?) passengers right on the airstairs, maybe due to the El-Qaida terror video on Germany or the recently revealed German based group planning terror strikes in Russia. (Just wanna mention that Obama has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, but dunno how to link it with my report). At the baggage claim, I noticed that the obviously wrong "Welcome to Tegel" wristwatch ads had been removed since I was there for the last time in April. Getting my suitcase went faster than in ATH, and I could finally make my trip back to my home, which this time meant a two hour train and bus ride.
I hope you enjoyed my report. The next one might come in spring with Paris being my favorite destination.