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Layovers in Athens

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As a flight attendant, you develop preferences for certain destinations after you seen all of them at least once. This is due not only to the appeal of a particular city but also the experiences that connect you to it. Upon publication of our monthly flight plan I am always pleased to be assigned to a night-stop rotation to Athens!

Although Greece is currently synonymous with the European economic crisis, we continue to operate several flights daily to Athens from Geneva and Zurich. Every night, four crews are stationed in Athens: one for each of the late-night flights from Geneva/Zurich and the same for the early-morning flights back to Switzerland. As a destination Athens is generally very popular with the entire crew, not just me alone. Not only do we have the pleasure of staying overnight at the luxurious Hilton, we also look forward to the sunshine that at this time of year is on the wane in Switzerland. If we land during the afternoon we go out for a Greek meal in the evening – there is no shortage of restaurants serving delicious specialities. Authentic establishments abound near the hotel as well as in the well-maintained old town. Athens is nothing like the scruffy, arrogant place portrayed in the media. People are open and cheerful, and the city has many attractive areas to visit.

After arriving on the night flight, the crew usually meets at a bar behind the Hilton or on the Hilton’s rooftop terrace. In the morning we enjoy the sumptuous breakfast for which even notorious late-sleepers have been known to set their alarm clock. Afterward, it’s pleasant to either read a book beside the swimming pool or to explore the city bit by bit.

A visit to the Acropolis was naturally top of my list. Although I arrived there early one morning in October, hordes of tourists swarmed over the hill to experience the imposing remains of the once magnificent and powerful Greek culture. I rather doubt that the location was able to unfold its full magic under the conditions – overrun by photo-taking tourists and in searing heat that felt like 30 degrees compared to the chilly Switzerland I had left only a few hours earlier. But nevertheless, the Acropolis buildings and the view of the metropolis of Athens are breath-taking!

You don’t have to go far from the Acropolis to see evidence of the economic crisis. While the businesses around the historic attraction have plenty of customers to deal with, the side streets present a series of one vacant location after another. So it comes as no surprise that the early morning flight back to Zurich is full of business travellers. For us, the full aircraft means the end of a brief visit that sometimes feels like a short southern holiday.

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