Wednesday, December 26, 2007

19th October, 2007

(Note - I have to get Greece done before I can get back to blogging about daily stuff, but Christmas was lovely.)

It was a late night for us. Lights out at about 10.30. We flipped the TV for a bit and read. Got up about 8.00 am in the dark. The room gets no sunlight. Got re-acquainted with the footwork of the half-tub for shower. Noticed many more bites from Milos. The mozzies will miss us for dinner. At breakfast we will work out today's mission(s).

Our room, 105, does get natural light but a lot is blocked by the big wall. And it does not get light until quite late - we can't rely on the sun to get us up early.

I thought it useful to compare hotel amenities:

The Adrian HAS: face washers, shower hat, electric kettle and tea/coffee, freshly squeezed orange juice (squeezed by a person and brought to the table.) It HAS NO tissues.

The Portiani HAS: tissues, mozzie zapper, pizza for breakfast, the charming and ebullient Danae, a pull bell for emergencies (!) in the shower. It HAS NO face washers, shower hat, electric kettle or coffee.

The Jason Prime HAS: a proper shower, tissues, but HAS NO spare blanket, mini fridge, or electric kettle.

Plan for today: The Numismatic Museum. The Cycladic Museum (again, but there is an exhibition of El Greco's paintings). Perhaps the Benaki, especially the costume and textiles part of the exhibition. Much planning of our day is now in progress.

And the day DID progress. 16,448 steps, or 12.33 kms, or 616 calories, we are sitting back in Room 105. Creakers! We walked up Ermou to Syntagma (very close) and looked at shops. We went to the Numismatic Museum. Glorious location. The mosaic floors and the frescoed ceilings and the painted walls would be enough to go visit, but the coin collection was fascinating. Hoards of coins tumbling from their original containers. Big and little, portraits and owls and wheels and buildings and gods, and geese and turtles and tortoises and bulls. You name it. What a trove.

There was an interesting WC setup - a common hand washing area with alternate mens and womens cubicles. We have not, I think, mentioned here the proscription about putting ANY paper down the toilet. There are large and definite signs in most places, including the hotels. We read about this in the guidebooks. Apparently the pipes are very small and any piece of paper larger than a postage stamp clogs the system. Yes, this includes toilet paper. There are small bins provided. We adjusted.

After the Numismatic Museum we walked to the Benaki Museum. Talk about treasure troves!!! The usual stuff (how quickly one becomes blasé) like neolithic pottery, some cycladic figures, etc etc, but for me the highlight was the extensive collection of costumes and embroidery. I thoroughly enjoyed goggling and gawking. I must look up the Dodecanese raised stitch. The costumes were glorious. There were husband chairs there which I have not seen elsewhere. Where are the wife chairs when they are needed?? We had lunch on the rooftop outside, with colourful bougainevillea kept in check. Could see the Acropolis, and overlooked the National Gardens. We bought up stuff at the excellent shop. Gift cards, a shawl for Julie's birthday, a book on embroidery for me, a tie for Michael. A better than average museum shop. Oh yes, the meal we had was very good. Small vine leaves - cone shaped - with a meat and rice filling. Yoghurt on the side. Most excellent. A good cup of coffee to finish, Greek for M, cappuccino for me.

After the Benaki (no... before..) we went to Notos, a department store. Michael bought a non-Greek (German) tie. We are surprised at the lack of Greek motif ties, or Parthenon umbrellas etc.

The Benaki about finished us so we walked home. Came down Mitropoleos instead of Ermou. Bead shop heaven! One, two, three, four, more, all in a row. I spent the grand sum of three euros on some conical caps for my black and white knitted necklace. My bead stash is ample enough as it is and I truly do not need more. (Alas.)

Michael went back to the hotel but not before I'd bought some coconut ice logs from a street vendor. These are wonderful carts with lotus-like coconuts and little fountains. I wish I'd taken some photos!

Then I went down to Monastiraki to buy fresh figs and chocolate while he bought Cokes asnd returned to the hotel. I browsed a bit, gawking at all the jewellery. Too much! It makes me seize up! So here we are sitting at last, with our steps done and kms covered, museumed out once again.

We spent so much time in the Benaki Museum and shop we did not go on to the El Greco. Maybe tomorrow. The Benaki Museum is better than most of the others we have seen for signage, eats - a real restaurant with a view, and ... a shop. It is very easy to see why it gets such good reviews in the tourist books I did my homework on.

I got two Greek ties today and an owl paperweight. The tie from Notos is purple - a fashion, the salesman said. The one from Benaki has a boat from Skypos which I will think of as an honorary trireme. The owl is marked Athena in Greek.

Must do email tomorrow to keep the backlog manageable.

About 22 C today. Not too hot, but sunny and fine.

A feature of Greek TV is talking heads - public affairs, I guess, with 4 - 6 heads on a split screen. Usually half of them talk at once, two of four, or three of six. Or one person talks all the time while the other three or five stare at the camera. The moderator-journalist is in the middle, talks without end, and the others cut across. The screen occasionally cuts to pairs who may or may not be talking. It is utterly exhausting to watch and listen to. The more people talking at once, the more they shout, the more frantic. There is also face-making and arm-waving. We say the first of a six episode version of PD James' "An Unsuitable Job for a Woman". Must get it on DVD and follow it through.

By the way the talking head teams can be on three or more channels at once, each featuring a different team. Both morning (we saw on ferry-TV) and the afternoon and evening.

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