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I'm sure that for most people, myself included, the quality of an airport is at the very back of ones mind when booking a holiday. You will book flights that are cheap and easy and end up where the plane goes. However, a good or bad airport still has the ability to enhance or upset the start or end of a holiday.
Eleftherios Venizelos Airport was built with the 2004 Athens Olympics in mind and unlike a lot of the infrastructure for these games, was actually opened before the games in March 2001, replacing the previous international airport. As the crow flies, it is quite close to the city of Athens but due to the hills surrounding the city, it is nearer a 30km drive to the centre. There is a direct train line that will take you to the city centre (something that apparently wasn't ready in time) and for 6.00€ per person the journey takes about 40mins.
Being such a new airport, the area is very modern, clean and easy to navigate. There are two terminals with the majority of flights departing from the main terminal with access to the second terminal via a walkway.
On arrival at the airport, we were quickly through arrivals and soon collected our bags, a great start to the holiday, especially as there was no real wait for a train. However, the return leg was where I started to have problems. We arrived early at the airport and were first in line at the check-in desk where we were courteously checked in and we decided to head through security. For the second time in a short space of time, I was surprised to depart from an airport where security was at the gate instead of the entrance to the departures hall. Previously when flying from Prague the inconvenience of this situation was well dealt with as you could buy anything and they were able to let you board. However, at Athens, although you could happily buy a jar of olives and take them through security in a sealed bag, a bottle of water was not allowed and we were expected to sit at the gate from at least half an hour before. There was a shop in the departures area but this was closed until about 5 minutes before we started boarding, and that was only due to complaints to the people conducting a satisfaction survey.
It may seem picky to mark down an airport on the sole basis that we couldn't get a drink of water but there were other problems. The staff in the departures area I found rude when questioned and the worst part was something that others may have enjoyed. For a country famous for its opposition to plane spotting it is perhaps unsurprising, but the terminal had been made in a glass that you couldn't see out of an evening. It amazing how you only miss something once it has gone but this led to a very claustrophobic situation and one that I was glad to leave.
If you are flying to Athens (as I will again in a couple of months) then you will have no choice but to go through this airport and will probably not have any problems. However, all it takes is one or two annoyances to lead to a bad review and that is what happened to me!
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