Getting to the airport
In Athens I stay at the Sofitel Athens Airport, which is literally just across the road and one floor down from the terminal. Journey time: 2 minutes. If you’re coming from the city though, there is a train and a metro that run out to the airport. The journey time from Syntagma square is about 45 minutes and the trains only run every thirty minutes. A oneway ticket will cost you EUR9.90.
I enter the terminal building just after 12h00 and it’s crawling with people. Currently, the terminal is a bit of a construction site, because expansion works are underway. And about time too, by the looks of it.
Athens attracts quite some unexpected traffic. American, United, Delta and Air Canada all operated two flights a day from their respective hubs. In addition, all the middle eastern carriers, like Gulf Air, Saudia and Emirates, also operate a regular schedule to the Greek capital.
There is a fast track for security, with no queue at all. It’s a bit misleading though that there’s a sign asking passengers to remove nail clippers and scissors from their bags – because most passengers interpret that to mean that they won’t need to remove liquids or laptops (which are not mentioned explicitly) – only to be barked at by the dragon at the security checkpoint.
The Aegean Airlines lounge
The Aegean lounge is located at the far end of the terminal, near gates 11 and 12. The young lady at reception informs me that the lounge is full up. She hands me a voucher of EUR10 to buy food and drinks at any one of the concessions outside and asks me to come back later to check if there’s any space in the lounge.
Let’s face it, the view is much better outside the lounge anyway, which just overlooks the car park…
Our boarding gate changes twice, and actually I don’t know what the original gate should have been. I just keep receiving notifications from Aegean in the app. First we are redirected to gate B20, only to be informed when we get there that we should all go to gate B27 instead. The boarding announcement is in the style of “I’ll just yell something incomprehensible in my thick Greek accent and wait for passengers to start moving”. And then the scrum begins. Their only saving grace is that we’ll be boarding from a bus gate.
There are four rows of Business Class for a total of 16 seats. And the cabin is full. On a row of three the middle seat is kept empty, and there is a little table that folds out of the seatback of the middle seat to provide some extra storage space. Other than that though, there are no video screens, no electricity plugs and no wifi.
The leg space on row three is excellent.
Alas, the cleanliness of the cabin leaves much to be desired. There’s a snotty hankerchief in my seat pocket, and the others don’t look much better either…
While boarding is underway, the cabin crew pass through the cabin offering champagne, orange juice or still water.
There are five crew on this flight. It is noticeable that all of them are very young. There is only one male in the crew and the four females are heavily, but at least professionally, made up. They’re quite friendly and interact with passengers with ease.
While we’re still on the ground we’re also handed the menus. However, I already booked my meal online at the time of booking. Preodering is not just available for special meals.
The meal service begins very soon after take off. First, a cover is placed on the tray table.
The meal is quite extensive.
For the main course I go with the fish and the celeriac and potato mash, which is very nice. The fish is juicy and the mash is quite unusual.
There’s also a salad. And if I ever meet the creep who though adding pomegranate to every blood thing was a good idea, I’m seriously going to give him a piece of my mind. I mean, why?
On the tray is also a small bottle of olive oil with balsamico and crackers…
… some tasty greek cheese…
… and dessert. Bread rolls are also offered from the bread basket.
The dessert is very good, but also very rich. It’s basically pieces of biscuits with milk chocolate.
After the meal, the crew don’t offer coffee or tea. However, they do offer small boxes of dark and milk chocolate.
For the rest of the flight, I busy myself reading and wondering if the American sitting in front of me was raised on a farm, of if perhaps she just thinks it’ll look better on her Insta profile to post picture after picture of her duck face, while she dirties the seat with her shoes. Some people…
The flight time to Berlin is two hours and forty minutes.
It’s very bumpy on the approach, which probably accounts for the very positive landing we experience… We taxi to our stand and then I make the long schlepp to arrivals and then the railway station.
Getting into Berlin
From the airport I first catch an intercity train going to Berlin Hauptbahnhof, which takes about thirty minutes. And then from there I catch the S Bahn for three stops to Bahnhof Zoologischer Garten in what used to be West Berlin.