Monday, October 29, 2007

8th October 2007

Landing was fine. As we walked through the cavernous airport we could see the great orange orb of the sun just coming over the horizon. Beautiful. The customs line ws not too long and very quick. My passport was stamped but I cannot find the stamp. Invisible ink? Stamps in one's passport are important mementoes! A traveller's badge. There was no paperwork completed at any stage. Luggage appeared without delay, and as we exited we saw our driver (organised online at waiting with a name card. He introduced himself as Tony, and ushered us to our taxi. It smells dusty! (not the cab, the air.) We passed mountains and olive trees, some suburbs. Tony explained that most Athenians live in the city, in apartments.

I can't find the stamp in my passport either. Saving on ink, as in Mexico. We hit the hotel at 8.30 am so no room available. The Plan went into effect. We boldly went in search of the site of Plato's academy. Not a major tourist site. We walked to Platoneous Street. A couple of the street maps referenced the Academy and sure enough we found the signs.

We took pictures of it which Kate shall add later. Then Kate patted a dog, and the man who had seen us snapping the Plato sign said there was more in a park ten minutes away so off we went and found another sign.
1. The driver, Tony, was indeed at the exit. Fine. He declined to be paid, preferring to do it all in one hit. OK! 2. The ferry tickets are at the desk and we must remember to check them. 3. Not sure yet about extending our stay. I asked, but not yet done. Kate gmailed the housesitter from the room, using her mobile phone.

We are now in Room 207 at the Hotel Adrian. We both needed to wash the dust off. Today was pedometer-less but I reckon we did 20,000 steps minimum. It was a very long walk indeed, a good three hours of solid walking. It is very dense with shops below and apartments above with canvas awnings and potted trees on most balconies.

Much more to be said about our walk. On the way we saw a small kiosk with film. Yes, one roll of slide film. I feel a little more secure now so took lots of pics, both cameras. I finished one roll while in Plato's Gymnasium.

I was delighted to have found that place. Tony the Taxi Driver was right, there aren't many green spaces in Athens, but this was one of them. It was calm, quiet, green and lovely. There were some ruins which matched a picture Michael had (from a website) and lovely walks. It pays to stop and pat little dogs! We would otherwise never have known.

We got a little lost on our return to the hotel but it wasn't hard to find our way with a bit of map-consulting. Must return to Kalimada Street, off Athina - crochet cotton and crafty things. I am taken with the number of hardware stores. Also small workshops, like the one I snapped of chairs and spools of seat-weaving string.

I am truly amazed that my mobile phone does gmail! It asked, as usual, whether it could access the network, and ages later it suddenly connected! I sent a message to Lisa the Housesitter so she knows all is well.

Michael is plotting our next outing. I am planning to break out my sketchbook and do part of the view outside our room. The room itself looks onto a wall of pale yellow with red curved tiles, but as you go out onto the balcony you can see more of the building next door, and trees. We are very close to the Acropolis and will venture there at some stage - a morning.

Later: not much time spent on the balcony sketching, but SOME! The Tour Guide (Michael) suggested we go to the Keremeikos - about a quarter of the distance we covered earlier in the morning. I had the pedometer on but alas forgot to turn it ON, so all I have a record of is the return journey, a measly 3,000. More like 30,000 today! To help get us more steps we stopped in at the sandalmaker Melissionis the Poet Sandalmaker. Michael bought the Plato sandal, I bought regular thongs called the Minoan. The young man in the shop suggested that I oikl them with olive oil to darkent them and make them supple. I'm wearing them now.... nope, just took 'em off.

Tour Guide: I have slaved away to ensure that Princess Katester gets plenty of steps and what does she do? No pedometer first and then when she does clip it on it is not turned on. So much for her declaRation that all Greek Steps would be counted! I got an International Herald Tribune and Kate got a Parthenon Snow Dome to match the Nashville Parthenon Snow Dome.

We brewed up coffee with the Brisk Brew and I did the crossword and read the paper with my feet up.
We saw the wall Themistocles build and the hill Pericles may have spoken from, and more, the Funeral Oration.

I drew the view. Fun with coloured pencils! My first Greek Art.

Then I declared myself to be hungry. We'd eaten breakfast on the plane, then had a chocolate attack in the afternoon, but now was real hunger. We went to the closest restaurant across the street - the Karyatids. Bread and cheesy stuff to spread, and olives were very quickly devoured. A Greek Salad with feta, lots of tomato and cucumber and green capsicum, a very little lettuce. Then lamb souvlaki for me with potatoes and carrots and zucchini. Michael had tomatoes stuffed with rice, in honour of Inspector Haritos, hero of Late News by Petros Markaris. Ate a goodly amount, but not all. It is now nearly 7.30 local time and I am getting droopy. The TV remoter does not want to work and I am tossing up about whether to go down for more batteries.

Did so. Now watching, starting to wind down.

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