Mainland Italia is like a fashionable polished shoe. Sicily is like a fashionable shoe that is a little scuffy and could use some polish. Greece is…well, kick off the shoes and it’s a sandal! Mine are covered with the fine white dust from the Acropolis.
We are here in the land of light, blue, and white. Our plane connections went off without a hitch. The weather is again absolutely perfect!
We spent the afternoon walking around Athens absorbing the sights. Glimpses of the Parthenon high up at the end of narrow stone streets. Old men sitting on wicker chairs flipping worry beads and playing cards, watching everyone else go by. We saw a man wheeling a huge dresser on a dolly down the middle of a busy street, cars coming at him. Two people were riding a motorcyle perching a chair between them. Someone else was washing his car at the side of a busy street while two other guys hoisted a fridge into the back of a back-seatless car.
Men sell piles of nuts from carts on the corner; another roasts corn on the cob at the side of the street; others sell mounds of pretzels covered with sesame seeds. There are “purse people,” as I call them — just as we find all over Italy. They lay out their wares on blankets on the sidewalks. Gino calls them “bagabonds” since they carry their stuff in huge cloth satchels from place to place.
Athens is clean and much less polluted than the first time we were here in 1996. The subway system is fantastic — clean, fast, efficient, and easy. You can tell the Greeks worked hard to improve their city prior to the Olympics.
In the evening, we met up with Jan and Liisa, my friends from Finland. Liisa’s sister, her fiance, Jan’s daughter and grandson were also along. How I met Jan is a story that I will post later. It’s quite amazing.
This was our first in-person meeting although we have been writing back and forth for some time. We all walked to a great little outdoor taverna and had dinner at a long table while three musicians played Greek music. As we were sitting there, they played and sang the very song that was the reason we had all met in the first place. Jan commented, “This song is the reason why we are all here now at this table.” It was indeed.
I guess we are truly on vacation. I had to ask what the day of the week it was, and Jan commented I was obviously still under the influence of Sicily!
We met up again this afternoon and Jan and Liisa walked us to a fabulous local market filled with spices, vegetables and fruits, a huge meat section (not good for vegetarians — very graphic!), and a large fish market with EVERY kind of fresh fish imaginable. Then we paused for a lunch of Greek salad, fried potatoes, and threes kinds of little fish. YUM!
We left our friends and hiked up to the Acropolis and wandered around the Parthenon. It’s just an amazing sight, despite parts of it being covered in scaffolding. Back down the hill to visit another temple and archaeological site. Everywhere you turn, there is a dig tucked in between a building here and another there. I imagine all of this city covers a vast area of
ancient Greek ruins.
Time for more wandering. Tomorrow we pick up the rental car (EEK!) and drive into the Peloponnese.