Tag Archives: Athens

My Big Fat Greek Holiday (Athens)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And we’re back!  Well, we were back two days ago, but serious jet lag and disorganization has prevented me from making this announcement in a timely fashion.  There is a nine-hour time difference between Alberta and Athens.  We flew into the future and then back into the past.  That can really mess with your equilibrium.

My holiday started on the 10th of May with a packed four-hour fight to Toronto (on which there were many screaming babies). (I remember those days of travelling with small children and don’t miss them much).   It was 1 degree C. in Edmonton when I left, and 19 in Toronto when I arrived there.  I kept a travel journal and actually wrote this shit down.  With a lot of other extraneous information about my luggage and boarding pass and some big scary dude sitting in my assigned seat in error, and taking a shuttle bus to the hotel and waiting for family to arrive.  Also there was a lady in the elevator with me at one point who would have shared her life story with me if the ride had been longer.  She was off to somewhere to pick up more beer.  I never saw her again.

Yes, it’s going to be that kind of travel log, so feel free to bail at any time if you were expecting intelligent discourse and historical information about points of interest.   I also take photos through bus windows while wearing polarized sunglasses.  With surprising results.  Remember that not all surprises are good ones.

Our party of six (including me, my sister Ann, her two daughters A and K, my sister-in-law J and her son Andy) were at the airport on Sunday at noon, baggage checked and all of us through security for our 3:40 departure.  I have no idea why it’s necessary to be there so early.  But there are lots of wonderful internet café type lounges at the Toronto airport so we consumed many beers and much wine before boarding our transatlantic flight and soaring off into Monday morning.  One o’clock in the morning our time suddenly turned into eight a.m. in Athens, and one night of sleep vanished into thin air.

While we waited for our rooms to be ready our Transat guide Thanasis booked all of us for a city tour by bus and a hike up a steep hill to see the Acropolis/Parthenon.  This seemed like a great idea at the time, and turned out to be very educational.  It taught me that I’m too old for all-nighters when the next day involves hill climbing via great long flights of winding stone steps in the hot sunshine.  My neice A referred to these sites as the Apocalypse and the Pentagon.  I wish she had kept a journal.  I think it would have been way more interesting than mine.

At this historic ruin Andy and Ann both bought table cloths that neither of them really needed from a lady highly skilled in the art of selling things to tourists who are suffering from sleep deprivation.  People like her were everywhere with booklets and postcards and souvenirs.  Sometimes it was very hard to say no.

Back at the hotel we had a late (early) supper, depending on your time zone, and I enjoyed my first of many Greek Salads.  If you don’t like tomatoes and cucumbers, you should not visit Greece.  They are in just about everything.  My salad also had black olives and capers and a slice of feta cheese the size of my face.  It was delicious. So was the wine.

And then we slept.

On the 13th we walked to a subway station and figured out how to get to Plaka and the Athens Flea Market.  What an amazing place.  It was so amazing that I didn’t take any pictures of it except for this fruit stand.  And I didn’t remember until halfway through the day (after glancing at my watch) that it was my birthday.  There were walking streets filled with shops and stalls selling clothes, jewelry, souvenirs, books, bags, leather, hats, scarves, shoes…an endless list.Greece 2014 026
We had my birthday lunch at a place called the Bush Bar where our waiter helped us decipher the menu.  We sat outside on a quiet little side street across from two men smoking and playing an intense game of backgammon in front of their store which sold wooden chairs.  It was a slow chair day I guess.

Greece 2014 030
Here’s a travel tip.  Take a chef like Andy along with you to a new country.  He was super enthusiastic about trying every dish specific to Greece and was often able to identify mysterious ingredients in whatever we ordered.  I don’t remember having one bad dining experience even when the menus had very little English on them and we pronounced everything wrong.

Later we went up to the roof top bar of the hotel to take some photos, and then walked a few blocks to the Big Bad Wolf Souvlaki Bar to eat AGAIN because, you know, some time had passed….  We did not go hungry.  The night life in Athens is busy and noisy, although we were assured it is one of the safest cities to wander around in after dark.  There were people and smart cars and motorcycles everywhere, families with little kids, buses, taxis, everything open for business, nobody in a hurry to go home to sleep.

Although maybe we should have been, with a bus to our first ferry to catch at 5:00 a.m.

 

The Twelfth Day of May

Where in the world am I today?

Post scheduling is a wonderful thing. This is a scheduled post!  Therefore please go ahead and consider it wonderful.   If you haven’t heard of any horrendous plane crashes with Canadians aboard, today is my second day in Athens, Greece.

Did you know there are 60 places in the world called Athens?  Most of them are in the U.S., but you can also visit Athens in Brazil, Scotland, Portugal, Italy, Serbia, Cuba, Finland and Germany.  The world is a crazy place.  I’ve never been to Athens, Ontario, but I have been to Paris in my birthplace province.  It was a long time ago and I don’t remember it.  Sorry if you got excited there for a second.

Our flight was ten hours and three minutes on Sunday from Toronto to Athens.  I have no idea if I’m lying or not, because all this is actually in the future.  Imagine going so far away in just ten hours.  I imagine I said that to myself a lot on Sunday.  Or whatever day we’re currently experiencing.  Always wanted to time travel, and here I am.

Parthenon/Acropolis/Athens, Greece http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Greek_temple
Parthenon/Acropolis/Athens, Greece
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Greek_temple

 

Get Ready Get Set

birkenstock sandals

I’m so lucky to have people who care about me.  And my feet.  Lucky to have feet, too, which people can care about.

Sorry, but this is how my mind has been working lately as I get ready for Greece.  The worlds worst traveller counts down to departure day.

So far, I have accomplished a lot of random (but extremely important) stuff in preparation.

1.  Went shopping with my daughter and granddaughter to pick out Birkenstocks sandals on Sunday.  I have been wearing them ever since to get them molded to my feet and a little less stiff.  They are marvelous.  Me and my feet are very grateful.

2.  Got my hair cut exactly a month before the trip, because from past experience I know that it will take a month of growth for me to like it.  Am a little bummed because I’m actually liking it right now.

3.  Made an appointment for a pedicure for the 28th, less than two weeks before I leave. Maybe I will post a picture of my beautiful new feet in my beautiful new sandals. If you are extremely excited about this, my goodness. That’s kind of sad.

4.  Bought a kind of over-the-shoulder backpack/bag to carry passport and other very important papers and cards and itineraries which I am currently amassing.  Along with lip gloss.  Because I can’t leave home without that.

5.  Ordered some euros on-line.  They should be ready to pick up at my bank in 3 to 5 business days.  My bank is about two blocks away from my house.  But on-line I could take care of this while wearing a nightgown.

6.  Bought some Skechers Go-Walks, in case we take some long and torturous tour on foot.  They are lighter than running shoes and so incredibly comfortable I almost forgot to take them off in the shoe store to pay for them.

7.  Have booked my flight to Toronto for the tenth of May, where I will stay overnight because the flight the next day from Toronto to Athens is 10 hours long.  That’s a lot of hours hanging around airports and sitting on planes, so I’ve spread out the fun over two days.

8.  Decided that the magic number for outfit packing will be twelve, subject to revision based on whim.  We will be gone for about 17 days and I can wear six things twice.  I have no idea if this will work, but I am a notorious over-packer and find it very easy to go over the weight restrictions with my luggage.

9.  Got two cards of earrings, 18 on each card, every one of them the same sparkly fake stone in a silver setting.  My ears are double pierced so I can lose over 30 of them and still have a matching set.  Overkill?  Yeah, probably.  This is a great example of how I pack, the operative phrase here being ‘just in case….’  Because, you know, they might not sell earrings in Greece.

10.  Look at that, made it all the way to ten and there are still many, many  things over which to obsess.  Like changing my email settings so that I don’t get over a hundred a day, mostly from blogs that I follow.  Finding an adapter, deciding which rechargeable things I can’t possibly live without, practicing being pleasant and agreeable so that my family doesn’t drown me in the Aegean Sea, scheduling posts for when I’m gone so everyone will know where I am whether they want to or not.

Well, there, I think I’ve got all that out of my system and out in the open for the time being.  I’m incredibly lucky to be going, I know that. I may never go anywhere so far away (and quite so willingly) again.  I wish I were a better traveller and could be dying from excitement rather than anxiety.  Big deep breaths, in either case.

Summerfly

I don't normally have Fridays off, but when I do, not everyone can keep up with me.
I don’t normally have Fridays off, but when I do, not everyone can keep up with me.

Sometimes things to talk about come in the mail or mysteriously surface during a clean-up and neither will leave your head until you forcibly remove them.  At least that’s been my experience.  For today.  Tomorrow could be another whole ball of wax. (Where did that strange expression come from? I tried looking it up, but it seems no one can agree on its exact origin and after reading the third or fourth educated guess I lost interest.)

Anyway, after waiting all week for it, an invoice/receipt arrived at last in the mail today.  I am sharing part of it here because I think it’s pretty exciting.

itinerary 001

If all goes well, I will be celebrating my May 13th birthday in Athens this year.  Santorini is one of the places my brother visited and loved and thought he would like to return to see again some day but he never got the chance.  So this trip is a family holiday to remember him.  Good Gawd, look at all those island ferry transfers across the deep dark sea.  I hope they make good wine in Greece.

The other thing I’m sharing surfaced from a filing cabinet, in a file folder labeled ‘recipes’.  Who in the world prints off random recipes from the internet and files them away and ignores them for a decade?  Never mind, we already know the answer to that.  Inside this folder I also found a copy of a Christmas letter written by our cats in 1997, a three-fold religious pamphlet and a letter from a fitness spa, but there was something else in there even MORE interesting.  I can picture you rolling your eyes and sighing but sorry, that’s not going to stop me.  Here are the amazing printed words I found with no title and no explanation.

In another younger day I could dream the time away
In the universe inside my room
And the world was really mine from June until September
And if it wasn’t really so I was lucky not to know
And I was lucky not to wonder why
Because the summer time is all that I remember

A summer fly was buzzin’ every night when I was young
In the gentle world my child-like senses knew
And the world was just my cousin
And the wind was just the tongue
In the voice my lonely moments listened to

And I look at me today all the dreams have gone away
And I’m where I never thought I would be
Seeing things I never thought I would see happening to me
And I lay awake at night til the darkness turns to light
Hearing voices calling out my name
Droning over and again the same message to me

Crying who’s your partner, who’s your darlin’, who’s your baby now?
Who wakes up at night to pull you in
But it don’t matter, you’ll just make her lonely anyhow
I don’t know why you even try to win

At first I thought it was a poem but then I remembered it’s the lyrics to a song and went searching for it on YouTube.  It’s amazing what’s on that site and the stuff that comes up and how much time can go flying by while you’re sitting on the living room couch with your I-Pad and a gigantic cup of coffee.

If you don’t know this song but like the words and the kind of sad and dreamy way they sound in your head, I think you’re going to love the music.  There was some method to my madness, writing it down and putting it away in safekeeping to be discovered again on some very distant future Friday off.