Athens Return

The departure from Hotel Grotta and walk to the port is all downhill. Big hugs to Nicoletta for all her kindness and advice and wonderful breakfasts. How she can greet each visitor with such enthusiasm, year after year, is quite a skill. I’m soon on the ferry, have a seat, and watch the boat pull away from this wonderful and very rich island. It turns out that my seat has been sold twice and so once again I have to sort out the details w/ on board staff. Brother.  I try to remember how the day started, with a dramatic sunrise over the mountains to the east of the hotel.  I went out to the WWII memorial about 100 meters from the hotel to take this photo.

Image

There is plenty of room on board until we dock at Paros island, and then hundreds of people pour into the common and reserved areas. Why on a Wednesday? and why so many people, most of whom are Greek? Once everyone is settled, the TV volume goes up and becomes horribly intrusive and loud. Even though I complain, it stays at the same volume.

Image

This couple clearly have the right idea, and are prob. exhausted on the ferry due to great exertions the night before.

Once we dock at Pireaus and I catch the Metro to Athens (I feel like a local by now, this the third time I’ve ridden it), I’m highly conscious that each passing sight and moment are the last I will have of Greece for this springtime visit. My hotel is the Adrian, just above Hadrian’s Library and about a 7 min. walk from the main Metro station. The room I booked is on the first floor, with a view of a wall, so I opt for a 10 Euro upgrade and arrive on the 3rd floor with a fine view of the Acropolis. I can even make a decent cup of coffee in the room before setting out to tour the neighborhoods one more time and buy a few gifts.image

The Greeks are known for their outspoken political views and social commentary (indeed, the TV shows on the ferry were all about current topics, w/ a variety of male and female pundits weighing in…although the female participants were all babes in short skirts and revealing tops).  Here are a few examples of graffiti that, without exception, has some message to convey.

image

image

image

Primarily, the Greeks are unhappy about being part of the EU and having to submit to austerity measures to get their economy aligned with European standards. I’m not sure the Spanish or French comply, but the model is certainly Germany, with Scandinavia coming in second and the UK third.

imageI’m also quite amazed at the café culture, where narrow streets are made even more impassable by the tables and chairs of some restaurant or cafe. I mean it’s Wednesday afternoon for heaven’s sake, and yet look at all the Greeks with time on their hands and money to spend. Just amazing. I figure they are part of the landscape and so take photos at will.

image

imageimage

This beautiful server came into my photo at exactly the right moment.

image

My last meal is in a restaurant that is about as close as I can come to approximating the memory from 35 years ago when the eclipse of a full moon took place when I was eating. Upon emerging from the restaurant, the Agora was no longer glowing but, in this part of Athens circa 1979, the stars had come out around this brown sphere in the sky.

image

I’d had plenty of retsina, the anise-flavored liqueur that is so popular in Greece (but is an acquired taste, believe me), so was in no hurry and sat on an ancient chunk of stone to wait for the moon to reappear. It was just magical to watch it slowly return to its brilliant self, and set the ancient stones alight with its pearly radiance. All the people and civilizations and cultures that have gazed upon these stones leave me humbled, and grateful.

image

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s