Mike's Athens Diary

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Monday, 22nd December

In a break from the norm, Reardon's tournament for mission 16 was played over several different days. The first meet up occurred on Monday 22nd December. Dave and I met up at the Edinburgh Christmas market for a gluhwein. After a chat with a comedy German who provided us with a destination for Pete Gibbon's round, we wandered along to Diane's pool hall to play our fixture. We went upstairs and were allocated a pool table. The game would be a race to 5 racks, each for the bargain price of 20p. I won the first rack, but Dave claimed the next two to go into a 2-1 lead. In the next, Dave succeeded in potting the black early on, thus surrendering the rack. I won the next to make it 3-2, before Dave again potted the black accidentally to fall 4-2 behind. The next rack went to the wire before I finally potted the black to win 5-2. Dave and I then returned to the Christmas market for another hot beverage before Dave caught the train back down South.

Friday, 2nd January

On Friday January 2nd, 2009, Rupert, David and I also went to Diane's pool hall in Edinburgh to play our fixtures. I played Rupert first. He won the first rack, before Rupert potted a spectacular black on the second only to go in off. After some time, I won the next three racks to claim a 5-0 victory. David then played me next. The standard was high to begin with, with me edging a tight first rack. The second rack was not so great, with both of us missing chances. I finally won it on the black, before David took the third rack to trail 2-1. The next two racks could have gone either way, but I won one to make it 3-1 before David made it 3-2. David then won the next comfortably to tie it at 3-3 before I edged ahead in a rack that could also have gone either way, to make it 4-3. In the final rack, I potted a cut back black to prevail 5-3. David and Rupert then began their match but only had time for one rack, which David won to lead 1-0. After the matches, David, Rupert and I went to the Edinburgh Christmas market to relax with a crepe and a hot chocolate.

Thursday, 15th January

Friday, 16th January

Woke up around 3.00a.m. Taxi to airport. Left gloves in taxi but driver returned them to house. Coffee and muffin outside departures, then go through and wait. Phone Steve for chat and David and Rupert. Go through and board plane. Quark sandwich on board. Get to Amsterdam and run through terminal to make connection. Through security, up escalator and then down stairs to meet Steve. Quick dash to toilet then board plane. Yoghurt and roll on plane with drinks. Chill out and chat about quark sandwiches. Descend into Athens. Disembark. Collect bags then get phone call from others. They're at Acropolis. Wander up stairs then across bridge. People in front fall over their cases on moving walkway. Get tickets then go downstairs and board train. Wait 20 minutes, then depart for Athens. Train journey around 45 minutes long. Get to Syntagma station (Stigmata) then change and go to Metaxourghio (Mixymatosis). Go up stairs and walk to hotel. Go up to room 605. Have 606 and 506 as well. The others phone. Rupert and David have lost Dave on underground at Omonia. Eventually they arrive and join us in room. Decide to go to Syntagma to get something to eat. Go to station get day pass and board train. Get off at Syntagma. Lots of people selling fake currency. Cross square and turn right, arriving at Biocafe. Decide to have lunch at Bio cafe. Get piece of pie with lemonade. Leave and walk back up to parliament building. Enter park, arriving at various statues and cage with ducks and geese in. See rubbish ruins, then leave via another exit, go around front of Zappio. Wander through park, past tramps and arrive at large road. Run across. Chinese people run in the other direction and nearly get run over. Arrive at 1896 Olympic stadium. Take photos then leave and walk back towards Zappio. Spot 7 cones along tram line. Move in, David, Steve and I taking 2. Rupert taking one. Do "Stop telling me what to do!" with workmen looking on. Go past temple of Olympian Zeus then walk up towards Acropolis. Get train back to hotel for evening out. Board at Acropoli and go back to hotel. Do room ballot. Dave and I in 506, David in 605, Rupert and Steve in 606.

Get ready and depart, go to Monastiriki. Change at Omonia where Dave got shafted on the train. Leave station and look at ruins. Wander past a couple of restaurants. Hard sell as they try to get us to eat there. Walk past weird bar and tiny church in the middle of a square. Turn left - long walk. Eventually end up round the corner from one of the first restaurants. David orders Calamari. I order shish kebab as does Steve, Dave. Rupert has moussaka. Four shish kebabs brought on bread. David doesn't like his Calamari.

Reveal mentalist list.

Cape Verde Islands (Steve) Milwaukee (David) Moscow (Mike) Marrakesh (Rupert) Madeira (Dave)

Do Piparus' draw.

Barcelona (Steve), Stockholm (Dave), Heidelberg (Mike), Stockholm (Rupert), Heidelberg (David)

Heidelberg (David) wins. Heidelberg added to mentalist list.

Leave and go for walk. Eventually find a bar for a drink on road to Syntagma - Bail bar. Sit outside next to heater. Chill for a while, then head back to Syntagma and catch train back to hotel. Admire view from David's balcony of Acropolis. Punch the sack.

Saturday, 17th January

wake up and go down for breakfast. Poor options. Just have yoghurt. Leave and head to station via shop to buy supplies. Get on train, change at Syntagma to blue line. Get off at Evangalismos. Exit at park. Cross busy road and start climbing up hill. Turn left and arrive at funicular railway. Suggest Steve can take that up whilst we walk up Lykavittos Hill. Walk through trees, eventually arriving at summit of hill. Small church. Admire views from top by church, then descend to another viewing point. Crack open beers and toast President Barack Obama and dead Paul Newman. Mascot photo. Bloke with beret is watching us. Offers to take our picture. Chat to him. Offers us strange drink he got from Africa. Chat about art vs. science debate. He's an artist working in Germany, but is from the US. Ask him to pick a destination from our list. He would pick Moscow, but suggests Fiji as an alternative. Talk about spirals in nature and art. Leave and walk down hill. I go to rest rooms but get shouted at by a woman in Greek. I say, "What does that even mean anyway?" and walk off. Down hill, say goodbye to new friend. He introduces himself as Brent Schennemann. We walk up other crest of hill, pass strange stadium thing on our left, then go through trees. Discover poo on the path, with toilet paper all around. Wonder if it is Schennemanns. Maybe stores toilet paper under beret. Climb up rocks and overlook stadium. See old Panathanikos stadium beneath us on other side of hill. Share out biscuits and blue. Descend rocks and head back down hill via alternate route, through the woods. Chat about whether poo was done in the shape of a spiral. Discuss new potential round for the draw bringing in these possible new concepts. Walk downhill, past bizarre running statue and end up back at station. Decide to go to Piraeus for the afternoon. Next train is in crowded. I force my way on, but looks like no one else made it. Everyone leaves at Syntagma and discover David is also on the train. Steve said "You're okay, phew!" as the doors closed. Get off at Monastiriki to change to green line. Go upstairs and discover that trains are not running. Head back down to meet the others and realise we can't go to Piraeus that way. Leave the station and decide to find place for pie for lunch. Go past glass floor with sculptures underneath, walk up hill past several shops. Turn left, then right past restaurant David had gone to the day before and not got served. Past another area with ruins, then left along a small road with a running track on it. Pause by a restaurant called Sholarhio and examine menu. Man talks to us, saying we can choose several dishes between us if we go there. Decide it may be a possibility for later on. Carry on walking. Enter square and stop at shop to buy small amphora which we call Schennemann. Soon arrive at Acropoli station underneath the Acropolis. Stop in small cafe where we buy some pie for our lunch. Sit on stools. Decide to take the tram to Pireaus in the afternoon. Leave and walk past Acropoli station, taking right fork in the road, then turn left and arrive at main road. Cross road and go to Zappio tram stop. Discuss whether to buy tram tickets. Eventually get them and board tram just as it arrives. As tram hits the seafront, it turns the wrong we so we quickly get off. Walk along seafront, past plaque to 2008 Olympics. Walk across beach, eventually arriving at waterfront area with ice rink. Suggest some Poop on Ice, but Rupert doesn't go for it. Cross over towards olympic sailing base. Sit on steps, watching kids doing jumps up steps. Decide to head over to stadium Karaiskaki, home of Olympiacos and other stadium used in the olympics. Go through sailing area and turn right, arriving at busy road. Walk alongside of busy road, past dirt area on left with motorbikes in. Reach terminus for tram, by the stadium. Football match going on. Turn left, walk past football match, before turning right and heading across a small waterway, before turning left and soon arriving at seafront again. Lots of ruined buildings on hill, including disused car park. Follow seafront, passing various restaurants. Arrive at micro harbour. Go to final bar and enter for a drink. Sit in window. Large log fire thing in centre. Sit down and have drink. I have cold chocolate. Chill for a while in EZN Olympic Maze. Party going on outside with man with mini cannon. Leave and take long walk back to tram station. Back at station, wait for tram then board and take long route all the way back to Syntagma. Transfer to train and go back to hotel. Chill in room for a while, then back to station for train to Acropoli. walk back up to Sholarhio and acquire table in the corner. I sit in corner with Rupert opposite me, David to my left, Steve opposite David and Dave to Steve's right. Get big shareatron main courses. Food is okay but not fantastic. Bizarre and quite crap sweet cake served for pudding. Once finished, leave and wander round to find bar. Eventually find a nice square with various bars. Sit down outdoors at bar called Pavel and order drinks. Start pass the pigs game. Very tense game. Rupert gets Makin' Bacon. I go in lead, but after passing 200 get what could be a Makin' Bacon. Waiter comes over for a look. Decides it isn't. I scrape over the line with David hot on my heels. Get Ouzo in. Very strong and not very nice! Leave Pavel and wander around the corner to another bar with a fat Chris serving. Sit in corner. Dave and Steve start dull conversation. David and I try to distract them. Eventually I pretend to breathe on them in the style of Alan Partridge to much hilarity and potentially secure application of the break. After round of drinks, leave bar and head back to Syntagma - long walk, up through square. Take underground back to hotel and return to our rooms to punch the sack.

Sunday, 18th January

Acropolis in morning. Olympic Stadium in afternoon. Stammtisch at Pavel.

Monday, 19th January

Mike's Porto Diary