Leo’s travel journal

Leo’s travel journal and other juicy bits…

Posts Tagged ‘Greece

Greece – part 02

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I also took the opportunity to take the metro out to Pireus port and Faliro – a coastal city about 20 minutes by metro from Athens.

It was cold and the wind was ceaseless!

Nevertheless it was beautiful weather for the time of the year (according to George who urged me to get my ass out of my wonderful suite at the Grande Bretagne), and I have a big feeling that he was right.

My business associates whom I had the chance to meet in Athens told me that it was unusually warm for February.

I guess I must have brought some tropical sunshine with me (not enough though).

The sunset picture is one of Faliro, and here are some more pictures.

And my favourite, a dog awaiting the return of his master from the sea.

Written by Leo

19 February 2009 at 15:48

Posted in Europe, My Thoughts, Photography, Travel

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Greece – part 01

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So it was a charming Sunday, the sun was shining brightly (contrary to weather forecasts) an I was in Athens. What else to do but to explore the ancient Acropolis.

Firstly, I must admit that I am not much a history and culture person. Nevertheless, the thought of structures present dating back to pre-millennium times were indeed an eye opener on how advanced the Greek civilisation was in their time.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking…

I was really not in the mood to go out and hence only visited one of many ancient sites that dot Athens.

The underground metro stations are really something as well. The story was that when they were building the metro system some time back, they would bump into new sites and the project had to be stopped for the achaeologist to work. The many Greek era artefacts are displayed within the stations.

Hence the completion of the metro system in Athens was somewhat of an accomplishment. I think it was a similar case in Rome.

Written by Leo

18 February 2009 at 4:11

The Grande Bretagne, Athens

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As it was my first time to Athens, I heeded advice of more experienced travellers to book a hotel within the area of Syntagma Square – right in the heart of Athens.  Thus, it boiled down to two hotels; King George hotel and the Grande Bretagne.

Moreover, having stayed at Starwood hotels for over 50 nights last year and achieving the Platinum Starwood Preferred Guest, I would say that the choice was clear.  However, it all depended on rates, and suffice to say an EXTREMELY sweet rate of € 138++ for a room sealed the detail with the Grande Bretagne.  It was in my opinion, an extremely competitive rate for a Luxury Collection hotel in a very popular city such as Athens.

Perhaps it was my good luck that the unfortunate riots happened weeks before my trip or just an extremely bad season for the hotel – either way, I was going to stay at the Grande Bretagne.

A week before arrival, I was contacted by their “Pre-Arrival Concierge”, Maria who sent the Spa menu and transportation prices to me.  She also added that if there was anything that they (the hotel) could do to make my stay better to let them now.  As usual, I provided my flight details for them to anticipate my arrival and for me not to have to wait to check-in after almost 24 hours of flying.

A few days after, I checked my reservations online via SPG.com once more and noticed that I had been pre-blocked into a Deluxe Suite, a four categories upgrade from the room that I had initially booked.  What a pleasant surprise.

I arrived at the hotel after almost 24 hours of flights and transits from Kuala Lumpur, flying through Bangkok and Frankfurt.  Needless to say I was physically exhausted upon checking in and the staff members, starting from the doorman to the front desk staff member were most gracious and sympathetic with me.

After a 45 second (probably record time) verification of my reservations, I was ushered up to the suite by the butler, Mr. Spyros who then proceeded to do a suite “walk through”.  My room, a Deluxe Suite consisted of separated living area, bedroom, bathroom and wardrobe.

The Deluxe Suite that I stayed in had a view of Lycabettus Hill, and had an expansive balcony that stretched the entire width of the room.  There were two 32-inch LCD TV’s, one in the bedroom and another in the living room.

The entire suite featured furniture with walnut trims, excellent upholstery and an extremely luxurious carpet.  Walls were lined with Damask, and windows were double glazed to ensure sound of the crazy Athens traffic do not infiltrate the room.

There was a huge wardrobe where (unfortunately) I had to request for extra hangers twice (due to my obssesive compulsive disorder in hanging everything up).

Breakfast was served daily at the GB Rooptop restaurant, with fantastic view of the Acropolis, Olympic stadium, Parliament building and Syntagma square.  It was a full buffet with selection of cold cuts, hot items and my favourite – a myriad of fresh berries.

I also had the pleasure to consume pralines from Leonidas which was replenished daily as a little chocolate box thing.  Turndown service was prompt and little nice cubes of my die-hard favourite Valrhona Jivara chocolates were placed on the Egyptian cotton sheets.

The bathroom featured wall to wall marble and wooden trim, brass fittings and separated shower and bath.  I had the fortunate time to use the deep tub one evening and it was sublime to say the least.  Bathroom amenities were from Gilchrist & Soames of London, the oatmeal soap bars, and shampoo and conditioner were delightful to use.

The bed, was expectedly very nice to sleep in.  With splendid sheets, countless pillows and firm back support, the bed was fantastic!

As you can see from the pictures, the room and hotel in general was decorated in a very classical manner – elegant and not tacky as I thought it would be.

I must say that the Grande Bretagne has been one of the best hotels in terms of physical product and service level that I have had the opportunity to stay in.

More on Athens in the next post…

Written by Leo

14 February 2009 at 18:14