Came back into Suda Bay again next morning 2nd Jan  at 1100 and had another alarm from R.D.F but no aircraft was spotted. No soldiers arrived so about 1600 sailed again the ‘buzz’ being for Athens, the ancient city of Greece.
The buzz was correct and we sailed into the beautiful harbour early in the forenoon of the 3rd of January. The sea winds in and out of the beautiful mountainous country with Athens in the distance covering the plains of historical memories. Far in the distance keeping watch and ward can be discovered the ruins of the Acropolis standing on an eminence commanding the sea and plains. Everything looks so peaceful that it is hard to realise that within a few miles two nations are at death grips.
This trip of ours is evidently just a little goodwill gesture – there certainly doesn’t seem to be any purpose attached to it. We went alongside at Peiraeus the port of Athens – quite a considerable distance from the city. Firstly to reach the city we had about 20 minutes walk to the train – five minutes in that then 35 minutes by train which landed us in Omonia Square, the Centre of the city. More strange money to get used to – drachmae – 540 to the Egyptian pound which makes one ‘dragrope’ (as “Jack” christened it) equal to something between a farthing and a half penny. It is funny to have a great roll of notes and all of it may be only worth a few shillings. Imagine having a banknote for fourpence! The city is full of uniforms of every description with quite a good representation of British.
The streets are modern and clean, plenty of good width to them but not very much vehicular traffic. Omonia Square is the centre where all meets but unlike Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus or Times Square there isn’t jumble or chaos as in those places, it is quite safe to just wander across. Traffic runs the American way maybe on account of the predominance of American cars. The people are friendly and courteous. One has only to stop for a second and someone asks you if they can help. In no time a crowd gathers around and they all volunteer to show you. You move off in a bunch your retinue only leaving when satisfied you have found your way and no further assistance is required. If no one knows what place it is they soon find some one who does even if a pedlar or news vendor has to leave his patch and go quite a long way with you. Beer is very good at 8 brachmaie per glass- everyone goes into the bars and cafes to discuss over a glass. They sit for hours over a couple of glasses and most of the places have quite a good orchestra playing until 9:30 when they close . The black out makes things a little dismal but doesn’t interfere with pictures or cabarets etc. The Italians so far, have not raided Athens- probably too busy retreating to bother.
Of course the Acropolis is the main attraction and show place for a visitor to Athens though its entire wealth of historical associations are too numerous to mention. The Olympic stadium has been camouflaged as a war air raid precaution. The statues etc are being buried also and the Acropolis is only open to men in uniform luckily for us. The sheer beauty of the Acropolis has to be seen to be appreciated – there are indeed sermons in stone. I went to see it just as a matter of course but the place soon captured me entirely. One seemed to live again back in those years of long ago when this citadel thronged with people. I was no stranger viewing ruins of 2000 B.C.
I climbed this hilltop and felt things that were familiar. Names of pounderous [in original] classical history flowed from the guides lips – they were old friends, not great names of a bygone age – the Golden Age of Greece. Socrates dispensed his wisdom here to Athenian youth – here was his dungeon and from this spot he drank the fatal hemlock. The Acropolis is by no means a mouldering heap of ruins. It is still a vibrant city, pulsating with its glorious history – you feel it. The sweat and toil that went into the building of it; such an incredible task but one of enduring beauty. The thought and wisdom of its architects who lit such a torch that it burns as brightly today as it did those thousands of years ago. I thought many things on that wind-blown hill with its magnificent sweep of beauty all around. Athens is beautiful, “a joy forever.” I had heard a lot about Athens before we arrived, from sailors who had previously visited it.