Our (Roma, Vicki, her friend Aoife, and me) holiday abroad this summer was a three part trip to Greece - the first stage was three days and nights in Athens. We stayed in the Classical Baby Grand art hotel on Athinas Street - a cool hotel that I'd recommend. It has a champagne bar, but we did not go there. Athens is a really lively place - while not cheap, we did eat out a lot. It's somehow part of holidays for us Irish folks to be having dinner in a street restaurant knowing there is no risk of rain. One annoying thing is the constant pressure from waiters at every restaurant trying to get us to come into their restaurant - it's important to keep a good sense of humour and remain polite. We were also constantly bombarded by street sellers peddling anything from pirate DVDs, to watches and bags.
The highlight of Athens for me was the Acropolis (see some iPhone videos in previous post). It's a long trek up in hot weather, but worth every bit of effort. There is a fantastic view of Athens, but all you can do is look in amazement at huge Doric columns built over 2,000 years ago. A pity is is in ruins (mostly due to an munitions explosion during a was in 1687), though there is some super restoration work still going on. There is a massive crane still in the centre of the Parthenon, and the evidence of shiny new marble is present in a lot of places around the building - no doubt these will age in time and look less like the patch-work it is today. An unmissable historic attraction - I hope I can see it again some time, I'll be back.
The rest of Athens was a combination of more sight-seeing, shopping, and the World Cup. I particularly enjoyed the changing of the guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This is an elaborate, almost ridiculous, but nevertheless a very serious ceremony. There was quite a bit of giggling (mostly from Vicki and Aoife), but most people respected the ceremony. The unfortunate guards were clearly very hot, with sweat visible on their tunics - I was astonished to see that they were not even allowed to wipe their own brows, a supervising soldier did this for them.
The quarter-finals of the World Cup were also taking place - I managed to catch most of all the four games, with Germany looking like world beaters after thumping Argentina 4-0. Again, it was a nice feeling to be watching football at the side of the street sipping beer. I did miss Giles and Dunphy, and Après Match at half-time - the TV station (NET) that was on in most of the bars showed continuous ads during half-time.