Friday, December 28, 2007

21st October, 2007

That step counter is mesmerizing. No sooner do we count steps than it is time for bed. Watched TV until 10.30 (The Hunt for Red October) then read. Now 8.00 am. Sky seems blue so we hope today to do.... MORE STEPS!

Tatting shuttles, black rayon, spools of silk, knitting needles, thimble. That's my list for today. Flea market. Anything else that strikes me! Yes indeed the step counter (the pedometer, as opposed to the also-frequently deployed pedantometer..) is not only mesmerizing, it is tyrannical. Getting 10,000 steps per day is mandatory. 15,000 is a matter of honour. Over 20,000 is cause for celebration. It does, however, lead to feeling very creaky in the evenings after sitting for a while. Last night I took some Neurofen before bed so I wouldn't ache so much. It worked.

The bells of Sunday morning are just pealing.

I keep meaning to write about how strange it is to walk into a shop and see all the shop assistants standing around smoking - even clothes shops and food shops. How weird it feels not to have a smoker next to you in a restaurant smoking throughout their meal. I see no warnings on advertisements, nor on cigarette packages. Young women, in particular, seem to be the big market.

For Christmas baubles (which we enjoy buying overseas) failing anything else, a large blue eye on a string will do. It is distinctively a reminder of Athens, and it will hang on a tree. A big one for Martin and one not so big for us. (Later - hmmm I think we gave both of them to Martin.) There is a Christmas store, but as far as we can tell everything in it is a) generic, not Greek-looking, and 2) made in China.

General note: when travelling we seem to eat two meals a day. First is a big breakfast at the hotel, which here at Hotel Adrian is included in the price. For me a bowl of excellent yogurt with a honey topping and some grapes and/or kiwifruit. Followed by a fried egg and a little bacon. Maybe some toast without Vegemite as I keep leaving my travel tube of it in the room. Michael has two eggs and bacon and bread, and whatever fruit I make him eat by thrusting at him. Coffee, and a big glass of fresh orange juice. We might have a coffee and a cake or something latter in the day, when convenient. We might have a late-ish lunch at a restaurant. In Milos we had bread and cold cuts etc. If we have lunch, we don't have dinner. If we don't have lunch we have an early dinner. Snacks might be figs (beautiful big purple figs) or the occasional banana. Chocolate bars and Coke.

No sooner did she write the above than I ate a bowl of fruit, little knowing what SHE had written about my breakfast. Harumph!

Sunday is Flea Market Day, so we spent 5,800 steps shuffling around it looking at junk. Some of it was Good Junk, but an awful lot of it Just Junk. In an antique shop full of copper and brass I found proper Christmas balls, so bought three. One large painted one for Julie and Martin, a smaller version for us, and a brass one. I went into a jewellery shop and found a pin, which I have been wanting for my black and white linen jacket and various shawls, particularly the Cardiff Rees Shawl. Maybe I'll keep an eye open for something in gold for Jules. Mine is silver with three pearls, for forty euros. Plus some worry beads for Mum. Michael was extremely patient as I picked around all the stalls. I'm reminded that all the fun in embroidery/crochet/tatting etc is the doing, not the having. I saw mounds of crochet and embroidery being virtually given away. I saw plastic bags with patterns and canvas with half one designs, sometimes almost complete. Tempting to buy just for the canvas. I remember giving just such bags to Vinnie's. I have half done and fully done stuff in my own linen cupboard. Almost bought an ecru red embroidered table runnier, but remembered the equivalents I have made myself, lying in baskets in the cupboard. Sigh!

Michael bought some big blue eyes as Christmas decorations, also a sponge, and two calendars (Mum and us.) An owl clip from the pistachio man (not really - he pointed to the shop behind him.) Two cloth badges for the collection I'll do something with some day. Not bad takings for the day thus far, but again I am overwhelmed by STUFF. We are having a Coke and some chocolate on our balcony as we prepare ourselves for the next onslaught. Some hand towels, perhaps, as souvenirs and for Gwen. Some felt beads and whatever else I can find that was on my earlier list.

I'm amused sometimes when we are out in restaurants that we hardly say anything but we write up the diary in turns. It is as though we are having written conversations. My plan is to get all the photos developed and to blog in sequence, a day at a time, all the entries here. I think that was my plan on some other trip, but it never happened! Maybe this time it will.

Very ambitious plans give one someplace to go, I am told. Oh oh, grey clouds are rolling over the Acropolis about 12 noon. Rain is forecast, but for later. When we sally forth this time, must remember to take brolly, and to get something for eats upon return so that we don't need to g o out for dinner if it is raining later.

We went out, in search of the bead shops which turned out to be on Perikleos. Closed. But now in Monday's plans, along with the needlework shops on Kalamida. As I said, the fun is in the doing. Checked out a haberdashery shop at Ermou 8 but it wasn't the sort of thing I was looking for. Then we aimed for the Museum of Traditional Plottery. The rather vague young man had to open things up for us and seemed surprised anyone at all was there to see the stuff. He opened the loo twice, and each of the rooms containing information on the potteries of Greece, with details of clay and glazes and wheel versus non-wheel and kilns for firing (open and closed.) He did not open the shop, nor the cafeteria. It being Sunday market day, the area around Monastiraki was seething with vendors and consumers. Among the vendors are tribes of Africans selling knock-off Vuitton and such. Every so often we would see them all gather their wares into the big white cloths and disperse. Immediately after that we would see three Athens policemen striding along, and behind them the Agricans could be seen setting up on the footpath once more. We bought "donats" (that's what the sign said) from the vendor in front of the station. Huge and very sugary. Then to Everest on the corner to buy baguettes. We waited an AGE for the six girls behind the till to get their act together to take our money. Back to Hotel Adrian - we have 13,200 steps. I read all afternoon, a book by Kate Gibbons (?) which was set just after WW! and the Spanish Influenza. Ripped right through it. We both checked email. Nothing of any importance but sent brief notes to Mum and Lisa the Housesitter. We are working up to tripod and night shots of the Acropolis and Athens.

I must also extol the blessings of travelling with a few bulldog clips. They are so useful. Keeping the coffee pack closed, clipping up one's sarong, either on self or as a dark curtain when needed. Never travel without them.

Our final outing for the day - we finally went out at night with camera and tripod for night shots. First the Temple of Zeus, then the Parthenon, then street scenes of happy diners. Step count: 18,347, or 13.76 kms or 688 ccalories. Will that make up for the huge sugary fatty donat? Bought some peanuts from the cart near the Acropolis Museum, and some doritos from the shop near the Temple of Zeus, and some peach juice. We had a whole baguette left (salad and chicken) so had that for dinner with the nuts and juice and chips. Maybe some chocolate later. A good day.

I spoke encouraging words while Katester snapped, as well as spotting locations to snap. I also carried the camera and tripod a part of the time. Now boots off!

Later: the slides turned out quite well, but I have not scanned any of them yet. May not scan them for some time to come, as I bought myself a multifunction scanner printer copier unit and ditched my old scanner (which did slides, when it was in one of its rare good moods.) It was Freecycled, along with the ancient fax machine. Also a terracotta chimney pot. Amazing what people will take, and wonderful that Freecycle can match stuff with people who can use it.

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