Ancient Southeast '17 - 15: Antiquity to Modernity around Athens (50 p.)

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Proud Earthling

We start another "branch" of our "East" and "Holiday" series of the past two years - someday everything will be joined, let's see where...

To the previous part of the series:
Trolleybuses in the East '03-'16 - 14: Kolomyia - Chernivtsi (50 p.)

The video for this part (please set to 1080p quality / full-screen mode):

Friday evening, October 20 2017, I squeezed myself into the fully booked red eye Austrian flight to Athens. In Athens, we had to wait for the marshaller, then again for the luggage. Finally, I managed to catch my airport transfer and was driven at 100 mph on empty freeways to my inner-city hotel. Finally, at 2 a.m. (Eastern European Time), I fell into bed.

October 21 2017

Not for long, as something was planned next morning. Near my hotel, I passed the "Bread Factory" (the picture only shows a quarter of the bakery) and walked to the Achilles Street bus stop waiting for line Gamma16 towards Asprópyrgos. The service of company OASA is not bad, you can download an app (Telematics) where the positions of busses are shown in real time. Also, a monitor inside each vehicle displays a map with stops and current location. Of course, there are occasional strikes, but usually you can check online when and with which operator.

I got off at the stop with well-sounding name "2nd halt" at Skaramagkás, a part of Chaidari township. It is the home of "Hellenic Shipyards": the largest in the Eastern Mediterranean not only builds ships and submarines, but also constructed OSE Siemens Desiro units, railroad cars and vehicles for the Athens subway.
After a short hike through suburbia past Pandora Street, some street dogs and the "Idiotiko" (= private) school, I had reached nature and climbed towards the previously researched spot overviewing the Gulf of Elefsina, part of the Saronic Gulf:

It smelt like summer and Mediterranean vegetation - simply relaxing in late fall. The scouted destination was the 10.5-mile-long "Neo Ikonio" freight only line which connects the national rail network to the port of same name near Piraeus.
I had seen on the internet that a train usually runs on Saturdays - but was unsure if and when it actually would happen. Finally, before 11 a.m., a long row of containers rolled downhill towards the port - and at 11:53 I heard the thunder of ALCo engines, enough warning to switch to video mode. Voilà: The MLW double header A465 and A456 (both Montréal Locomotive Works MX-627, constructed in 1973 with ALCo 12-251F, rebuilt in the 2000s to low hood).

In 2008, I captured an engine of the class in original state at Thessaloniki marshalling yard:

My only Greek railroad report until now:
Orient-Express 4: Filia - Dostluk - Friendship Express (50 p.)

The bay was busy with car and ship traffic, on the gravel roads around me some motocross bikers sped around and a jeep passed my spot quite slowly several times. At first, I did not see why, then noticed that someone was driving (not walking) his dog...

Panorama with the city of Elefsina on the other side of the gulf, the island of Salamina to the left.

Many different perspectives are possible, here two examples - maybe another time.

Derelict finds in suburbia.

This pedestrian subway had to be secured from cars taking a shortcut with concrete blocks - of course motorbikes were not deterred.

The next bus took me to Koumoundourou Square.

Construction site in central Athens, check the details.

Conventional vehicle under trolleybus wires.

A short visit to the Evzones on Syntagma Square, legend has it that the 400 creases on the skirt (Fustanella) are symbolic of the years of Ottoman rule.

I met my part-time travel companions and we walked on to the old town quarter Plaka for my first proper Greek meal.

The higher you climb towards Acropolis, the more rural it gets.

We enjoyed the view of the metropolis with 3,75 million inhabitants and Acropolis to the right from Areopagus hill.

The Temple of Athena Nike in front had been completely dismantled and reconstructed recently.

Next to the Athenian Agora you can find the Roman one (the forum). The "Tower of the Winds" is the best preserved ancient building in Athens.

Even Orthodox churches need an electricity meter.

The massive Stoa of Attalos had been reconstructed from its 200 BCE original.

"Electric" line 1 to Piraeus partly uses the first Greek railroad from 1869, in 1904 proper subway operation had started after electrification. This section between Thissio, Monastiraki and on to Omonia had been built in 1895 - I discovered an old photo inside a café:

Athens public transport is split between several companies – but with joint fares -, modern subways 2 and 3 have a different operator than line 1 here, which is operated by STASY...

This class of trains - that was the cleanest I spotted - had been built 2000-2004 by ADtranz-Siemens-Hellenic Shipyards (see Skaramagkás above).
More about the rolling stock - better not to look what amazing ancient vehicles roamed these tracks until the 1980s:–Piraeus_Electric_Railways#First_generation_EMUs

From the very beginnings of urban culture to modern urbanity... subway between excavations, the Agora and the Acropolis in the background.

A lovely place to drink coffee and take pictures of trains at the same time.

Don Quijótis.

Old ticket counters at Thissio, the first terminal of the line. Electronic barriers were in place, but not yet in use.

Cats dominate the old center, with an appropriately named street nearby. :0)

Platform roof details.

The oldest class running today, delivered in 1983-85 by MAN/Siemens. To the right one of several depots along line 1.

We changed to line 2 at Omonia Square.

Trains as well as stations are squeaky-clean on the modern lines, but you must look out for pickpockets - a companion of mine had an unfortunate encounter with a gang of thieves, luckily just taking the daily money wallet.

A second-generation composition arrived, constructed 2003-04 by Hanwha-Rotem-Mitsubishi.

I quickly visited the central train station to purchase a Proastiakos (suburban train) ticket for next morning. You have to buy them at a counter, but still validate at a machine before travel.

Sunset on the balcony of our hotel suite.

The Stanley was a hotel where my father had stayed on a horribly planned class trip more than fifty years ago.

October 22 2017

Next morning, I took the subway from Metaxourghio one stop to the station and then Proastiakos 1302 departing at 6:38 a.m. towards Kiato. I got off at Megara, where the modern station was constructed far away from town. However, no taxi was to be found, so I walked 2.5 miles to the beach.

This railroad underpass must have been used by an animal before the road surface had dried.

I walked along the coastal road - in summer water melons had been on offer here...

Trains operate hourly, a Desiro class EMU sporting ad foils as service 1304 from Athens appeared shortly after 8:14 a.m. All units I spotted in this region had been freed from graffiti.
For orientation: we have seen the characteristic hills on Salamina the morning before at Skaramagkás from the other side.

To the top left: the old meter gauge Peloponnese Railway from Piraeus to Patras. The new line Athens airport - Kiato had been opened in 2007, this section to Corinth in 2005. An extension of the standard gauge to Patras is planned.

View into the Gulf of Megara, Salamina Island stretching in the background.

Into the other direction the Peloponnese can be spotted in the distance.

No omega - but the sigma whistle board marks the end of this part - see you next time! :) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section. - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.