Saturday, November 10, 2007

12th October, 2007

Rose and shone about 07.00. Beauty sleep effective once again. Now on roof top, eating. Today it is Piraeus: the Maritime Museum, the Archaeological Museum, and the Ancient Ship sheds on Sirangiou, then more eats! Got two out of those three. Also seeing other things to do! Ancient Eats, Hellenic Cosmos, Benaki Museum and Annex, Museum of Costumes, and more.

No doubt our programme will involve lots of walking! We are now at 333 steps and haven't warmed up yet. There is nothing on TV to watch. About the only English is CNN and it is stupid and repetitive. We saw a kind of shopping show one night. It appeared to be an auction, and it was extremely slow. The presenter was very laid back, none of the histrionics of the Italian version we remember so well and with such affection. So we read and then conk out. Made it to 9.30 last night - our record!

Afternoon: Piraeus and Syntagma cost us 20,739 steps, or 15.5 kms. Jeepers, creepers, where'd you get those creakers! (old bones..) Here I am, plodding on.

We caught the metro from Monastiraki to Piraeus where we debarked and began our walkaround. We had as our goals the Piraeus Archaeological Museum and the Nautical Museum. We passed the former without realising and found the latter after a completely useless bout of instructions from a group of blokes. The museum was heavy on modern war (those pesky Turks!) and quite light on ancient, but it was quite interesting. Back around the harbour (where ruins must have been lurking underneath) and up to the Archaeological Museum. It was shut, it being October, or Friday, or the day we were there. We breathed a secret sigh of relief, and pressed on around the harbour. Michael had his sights set on an ancient slipway visible in the foundations of an apartment building. He found them. The new pressing down upon the old. The layers of civilization are very clearly visible here and we often commented on how the new Athenians jostled for elbow room among the old. Pictured is a map of the original site, and then the view through the glass window into the foundations of the building.

We continued around and saw lucky people swimming, although I can't think the water would be clean or clear. On to Mikrolimano where eats were the order of the day. Such a choice! Eventually the man touting for business outside the Four Brothers was persuasive enough and in we went to sit. Blessed sitting! He wanted to sell us 80 Euros worth of lunch but that was much too much foodwise. Tzatziki for me, Greek salad for Michael, followed by grilled sardines for me and fried calamari for Michael. All delicious, and around 15 euros. Fish swam nearby feeding on scaps of bread thrown in by patrons and a waiter. A fisherman caught one of the fish on a line and bore it off - to eat? Greek coffee finished our leisurely meal. We sat right on the water - this is the view from our table.

The food was cooked in the restaurant across the street. We were in no hurry and neither was our waiter. Finally we paid up and creaked on our way to the station - Neo Filari. Validated our tickets and stepped straight onto the train. We've never waited more than 30 seconds for a train.

Being gluttons for punishment we decided to go to Syntagma Station and see the exhibition of the excavation for the metro. Very well done - informative, nicely laid out. Then set off for the Museum of Greek Costume. We made our way throught the narrow streets in the middle of the city. Found the Museum. It being Friday, or October, or 2007, it was closed. Alas. I had my heart set on that one. Ancient roons (ruins) might be interesting enough, but I wanted to see embroidery and textiles!!!

We made our way back to the Parliament where the guard was just changing. Good timing for once, for me to take my photos. Bought a couple of snacks for tonight's dinner and finally made it back to the hotel for complete collapse. Today is our record for steps. One of these days perhaps we will have under ten thousand! Maybe. Having a coffee now, sitting on the little balcony, thinking about showering off the dust. Tomorrow is a half-day trip to Marathon, I think. Yep.

Piraeus was quite grubby, very dense as usual. It is a little like a more up-market Cairo. We saw a supermarket with a meat van, carrying in carcasses. One set of ribs appeared to get dumped in a rubbish bin, but I don't think it was left there. Ferrying groceries to the top floor of those 8-storey buildings can't be fun!

Maybe we should have walked from Piraeus to the Akropolis as Socrates did. Getting to Piraeus was easy, but getting around was difficult - even fewer signs. We saw the inner harbor and those shipsheds - or the stone foundations of them. Several of the menus at Mikrolimanis listed a fish called Arrogant. Yep. It was very nautical: rows and rows of ever bigger yachts, more and bigger yachts than at the marina in Nice when we walked around there, whenever that was - 1994? I have now seen many models of triremes, but none explains its evolution or how it worked. The top rower had one very long oar to manage. One sign at the Natucial Museum said rowed by "Free Greeks, not slaves" (no Ben Hurs there). That is literally true, Greeks with very few Athenians among them. Most of the navy, Pericles recruited from the Ionians, the people of the islands, and paid them well. They found work in peace time in Pericles' vast constructions, and in war time there was ever more money to be made rowing. When the gold stolen from the Delian League ran out, the rowers were paid in another coin - Athenian citizenship. The Piraeus Archaeological Museum was closed for renovations, as was the Costume Museum. So our walk there was a zero though Katester asked about a Greek necktie at a shop. Nope, only two, and not nice.

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