Random day off at Liam’s school today, time for an adventure! Bless my seven-year-old…he is THE BEST for day-trip outings. Last night I told him the day was his, what would he like to do? He was keen on seeing the Embassy, and riding the Green Line Metro because it runs above ground, and I said I’d like to see the sea. So we unfolded our handy-dandy Metro map and planned out our day. First stop, see daddy at the Embassy. Next, take the Green Line to the sea. Then an easy bus to the Battleship Averof Museum, a one-hundred-year-old warship you can climb around on. Fun fun! I studied the route the night before because I’m still running around a foreign city without a smart phone map. (And doing quite well without it, thankyouverymuch.)
We started the morning bright and early, because my son couldn’t possibly sleep in on his day off from school. I tried my hand at pancakes for breakfast, and despite not having my own pans and mixing bowls, I managed to make us a delicious breakfast. Violet happily got in on the pancake action, too.
We decided to take the bus all the way to the Embassy because James claimed it was easier and faster than taking the Metro. Of course just about every other bus we didn’t need to take came first — isn’t that always how it goes? But my kids are becoming champion bus waiters, Liam chattering away about whatever is on his mind, and Violet smiling at strangers as they fawn over her. Finally, twenty minutes later our bus arrived. We had something like 16 stops to go, so I had to keep my eyes peeled for a big building with American flags out front. I’d only been to the Embassy once before, and the motorpool picked me up, so I had only a vague idea where it was. Aaaaand it was naptime, so Violet was not in the best mood…until I stood up and swayed her into submission. I love that she’ll sleep in the Baby Bjorn. Anyway, turns out the Embassy is hard to miss. It takes up a whole city block, and there’s a ginormous seal with United States Embassy emblazoned on it. Plus there’s a 20′ fence around the complex. Yeah, hard to miss.
I managed to locate James’ building and get up to his office, stopping along the way to see the ladies in the CLO so Liam could flirt. (CLO=Community Liaison Office. The Feds live for their acronyms.) Liam charmed the ladies in James’ office, as well, telling them all about the trains we were going to be taking to the big boat in the harbor. I’m telling ya, when they say that getting there is half the fun, they had Liam squarely in mind. He couldn’t wait to get down to the subway. Posthaste!
We started on the blue line, then transferred to the green. Liam studied the map above the door, and together we carefully counted down the stops until we needed to get off. The train on the green line was heavily graffitied — I told Liam, “Look how colorful these trains are!” He loved having a view out the window for a change. We got a brief glimpse of the Agora that we’d seen last Saturday. I think that’s why he was so excited to ride on the green line — we’d seen the train going through a ditch right next to the museum.
When we got off on our stop, I was hoping the transfer to the bus would be apparent. It was not. So we wandered around a bit. We found this long, wide tunnel at the exit, and that took us to this huge stadium. I remembered seeing a stadium on the google map, so we headed around it toward the water…following our noses to the sea. And then, there it was!
And some boats. But no battleship. I remembered the spot on the harbor was still pretty far away, so we made our way back to the other side of the stadium, hoping to find this mysterious bus. Liam did not complain about our detour, and I did not panic. Sure, we were a little lost. In a foreign country. With two children. But I’m nothing if not a tenacious tourist, and I knew with enough wandering we’d eventually find where we were going. I’m not gonna lie. I wished I could use my smart phone map. But, no, I can do this! We will find the bus that will take us to this big boat!
Instead we found a tram. Wait, I think I read something about a tram stop on a website last night, mentioning the closest stop to the museum is T-something-something. Studying the tram map, I found Trokantero was about the right number of stops away. What the hell, let’s go! Liam was totally stoked about the unexpected addition to our mass transit itinerary. A bus, a subway, AND a tram? Sweet. And the tram was actually quite nice, nicer than the graffiti-laden green line Metro train.
At Trokantero we saw a sign for the Averof Battleship, and from there it was hard to miss. Big gray ship. And for a measly 3 Euros, they let us climb all over it. Violet fussed all the way from the tram to the ship, but once I flipped her forward and climbed the gangplank, she was happy to gawk at her surroundings.
Liam, true to form, asked me about the safety of the gangplank, and I had to assure him that while the ship dates back to 1911, the way up there was much newer. His next question was how new the deck was, and if it was safe. Oh, this child! I told him they made ships very sturdy, and they wouldn’t let us on if it wasn’t safe. That seemed to satisfy him.
Inside we found the galley, the areas where they slept and ate, and the captain’s quarters.
Liam wouldn’t stop to read any signs, but most of them were in Greek, so I didn’t mind. We walked over every inch of the ship, from fore to aft, starboard to whatchoocallit. (I am clearly not a boat person.) We tried all the doors we saw just in case they left something open. Sometimes you could only peek in the windows at the cool stuff inside. I think the captain’s dining room was my favorite. It’s good to be the captain!
Feeling like we got our money’s worth, and with our tummies rumbling, we headed back one stop on the tram to the Goody’s we’d seen on the way in. Liam wanted a hamburger, and I was willing to give Goody’s another go. Perhaps because I was famished, I liked the burger a lot better this time around. The restaurant, much like the McDonalds, was actually kind of swanky. A beautiful outdoor seating area, and inside the tables along the windows had these giant pillows along the back of the seats. I couldn’t find a high chair for Violet, but I was able to hem her in with pillows very effectively, and she enjoyed playing while we ate.
The return trip went a lot faster without our detour around the stadium and to the Embassy. But it still took about an hour: tram to a train to another train to a bus, then walk a few blocks home. I’m curious if driving to a lot of these places will be faster. Though I imagine the trade-off will be dealing with traffic and parking. Downtown Athens traffic reminds me a lot of NYC, a place I never even attempted to drive in when we lived there. Liam has very little patience for hanging out in the car, and I have very little patience with traffic, so we may find mass transit more tolerable no matter the extra time it takes.
On a lighter note, we discovered Violet is getting another tooth this afternoon! She’s had the same two on the bottom for almost four months now, and we were wondering if the top ones were ever going to come in. She’s a little out of sorts this week, but I’m hoping once this tooth, and probably the one next to it, comes all the way in, she’ll be her smiley self again. Smiley with four teeth 🙂