Wow, I haven't had a chance to blog about my Greece trip; I will blame it on the jet-lag...
We had to have someone 'house sit' to take care of Betty (she 'requires' attention or she gets nervous and freaky- I think she has some abandonment issues) so Kate is staying over with her dog Chaucer; hopefully Betty will be easy on her and Chaucer (I have been checking in with our cameras to see how things are going).
We arrived in Athens on Saturday morning (Greece is GMT + 2, so it is seven hours ahead of EST) and took a cab to the GR Louis Hotel (formerly the Andromeda?). I was a little worried when I noticed that the ceiling fans in the lobby were all on high speed. The elevator was also humorous- it had a 32" door and could fit one person comfortably with 2 pieces of luggage: so it took us 3 trips to get us and our gear upstairs.
We arrived at our (first) room and turned the AC on and had a short lie down while after our 11 hour flight- the AC did not work. Tracy had a talk with the manager and he moved us to another room- a much larger suite on the top floor (7th)- and the elevator stops one floor below so we had to use the stairs for the last leg.
The room had two areas (living room and bedroom) and a balcony and two separate AC units. This worked fine until the AC unit in the bedroom started leaking water onto the table- the management's solution was to turn the AC up so it didn't get so cold (to about 77F) and to put a towel on the table beneath the unit: not a real good answer (my theory on this was the 2" hole in the wall behind the unit was allowing the outside humid air to condensate on the AC coils- so they needed some caulk and filler). But after running the ACs full open all night the rooms finally got pretty chilly.
I will have to say that Greece appears to be worried about electrical usage from the commercials on TV and the 'kill switch' for the entire room located at the exit of each hotel room (and the wind power generators I noticed on the flight in)- but they should run the AC just a little to keep the room temperature under 90 degrees for their guests!
The girls couldn't sleep well because of the dripping of the AC on the wet towels (we added another towel as it saturated the 1st). There were other issues like the toilet leaks (and there is a floor drain installed for this?), the bathroom floor was nasty (pics later) and other such annoyances that made us find another hotel for the rest of our stay in Athens.
We moved to the Hilton (about 12 blocks away) and are so far pretty happy; the room is smaller, but the amenities are much nicer (they left a bottle of wine and a plate of fruit for us- how sweet) and the AC kicks!
We also have 'free' Internet courtesy of Purelli- which is a godsend based on the Internet rates in Greece: It was 16 Euro for 2 hours at the first hotel and it is 10 Euro for 1 hour (or 27.5 Euro for 24 hours) at the Hilton- which really sucks for a country that has 24mbps DSL for 21.5 Euro/month!
Another thing to watch for is the price gouges for basic things- like 6 Euro for a can of coke 'light' (their version of Diet Coke) in the room (about $9 USD)- I found the (multiple) sidewalk news stands sell the 750ml version of the same product for 1 Euro; it just takes a short 4 block walk to get this discount.
I guess the above two are a way for the hotels to make easy money- which really compounds the insult of paying 200+ Euro/night! I guess they figure all tourists are idiots with nothing to do but spend money...
Anyway- enough rants and raves (well, maybe more later on the restaurants): we did some walking yesterday and found lots of shopping areas (reminiscent to me of the New Orleans French Market) and walked up to the Acropolis. I got separated from Tracy and Diana (I ended up walking back to the Hotel) but found some interesting 'back roads' (between some old houses) up to the back of the Acropolis- and got some stunning pictures of the city. These should be on Flickr soon if the Internet connection holds up.
We fired up Skype last night and the girls called everyone they could think of to tell them about the trip- most people didn't answer as the out-boud caller ID displays 0001234567 (a problem with Skpe usage in the USA). The sound was pretty good through the built-in speakers/microphone on the laptop; i will bring my headset next trip.
Today it is 10:30 in Greece and the girls are about to be awoken for another fun day (yesterday they didn't wake up until after 1:00pm!)