Odyssey to the kingdom of gods
Despite the fact that for the twelfth time I am going on a journey through Greek land, I fly to Athens for the first time with a shaky hope of the possibility of even a fleeting acquaintance with the city. It is time to answer on duty questions: “Have you ever been to Athens?” and “Seen the Parthenon?” an affirmative nod of the head. Unfortunately, the average man is arranged in such a way – he languidly listens to your stories about the wonderful country, but instantly reacts to conditional words. And now, fate, finally, gives me a chance to fill the annoying gaps in the story of beautiful Greece: I go on a journey with a friend to, first of all, spend a day in the legendary city, named after the goddess Athena, who gave people an olive tree .
On a sunny May morning, Athens, as the true Olympic capital, is given a surprise: the city center is closed due to the Sunday marathon race. The bus is slowly circling, trying to drive up to the King George Hotel, located on the Freedom Square near the Parliament building: weary travelers are always happy to provide shelter and food there. After several unsuccessful attempts, all our “honest company” decides to walk to the hotel on foot, the blessing is five minutes to go. The sounds of music, joyful voices, bright balls and the approaching front column of the guard of honor indicate that we made the right decision.
The spectacles got full, now would be bread … We were late for breakfast, we are politely offered to drink coffee in the hotel restaurant. I do not hesitate to order frappe for a minute – a favorite drink of many Greeks because of its unusual taste and quality, it is great to tone up in the heat, increasing the ability to work, which I, strictly speaking, need after a nightly flight, is still a long day of sightseeing.
Yes, the day was really tough. The sharp 30-degree heat in May (it’s hard to imagine what’s going on at the height of summer), which came sharply after the recent bad weather, acted exhaustingly. Hordes of tourists, presumably not the largest at this time of year, are aggressively besieging the Acropolis. Snow-white marble steps, polished for many years with millions of feet to a mirror shine, do not allow to relax during the ascent and descent: the surface of their places is sloping and slippery, and the sun blinds the eyes. It is necessary to go in the cool time of the day, properly equipped: a cap-panama, comfortable cross-country sneakers on rubber, sunglasses and a small bottle of drinking water – there is enough to climb, and there are fountains on top, so you can “refill” again. The camera itself is an essential attribute of every traveler.
Having “coped” with the Acropolis, we go for a walk along the Agora – the central part of the ancient city, famous throughout the world, the monuments of antiquity and the special aura of ancient streets that have survived to the present day. To give tired legs rest and feel part of this beautiful city, I strongly recommend sitting in one of the many cozy cafes – this is exactly what we did: having settled around tables in the shade of trees, each of us ordered ice cream, following individual preferences in choosing.
Returning to the hotel was a long-awaited, I really wanted to fall on the bed and sleep for ten hours sound sleep without dreams. However, before enjoying the embrace of Morpheus, the luxurious atmosphere of the King George Palace Hotel was to receive the earthly pleasure from the surrounding guests. The evening suggested an exquisite dinner in a friendly atmosphere, after which the steadiest of us went for a night walk through the center of Athens.
The building where the King George Palace Hotel is located was originally built as a small city palace as an extension to the Royal Palace (now it houses the Parliament). Later the building was acquired and built on by a Greek businessman, turning it into a hotel. Since its opening in 1936, the King George Palace Hotel has been surrounded by legends and stories. One of the first guests of the new hotel, named in his honor, was King George II, who made him his refuge. In the 50-70 years. XX century. The hotel was very popular with famous people of the world: crowned women, industrial magnates, politicians, movie stars such as Prince of the Principality of Monaco Rainier, Aristotle Onassis and Maria Callas, Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe, Bridget Bardot, Frank Sinatra, Francois Mitterand, Madonna, Jose Carreras, Jean-Paul Gauthier, Vladimir Putin, George Bush, David Copperfield, and others.
A complete renovation from the basement to the penthouse brought back the original charm and added modern trends to the King George Palace Hotel. New technologies allowed to make hotel rooms soundproof, lighting became adjustable (up to natural light), air conditioning systems appeared, access to high-speed Internet lines.