The End of Our Athens

Our hotel in Athens was not so far from the first hotel we had a few hours sleep in on our first night in Greece.  Up the road from the Hotel are several restaurants, we chose what we believed looked to have the most authentic locals.  The waiter wasn’t rude but we were so used to having friendly, helpful people that his direct manner was a slight shock. The food was still delicious. We had a traditional Greek pasta and salad.
The morning had us call a contact from the café in Thessaloniki and he gave us a gift to make Greek Coffee. His family has been producing and exporting coffee for 3 generations, I’m pretty sure. He gave us some tips on where to eat and what to see, advising us (most importantly) not to have Mousaka because it is usually frozen.
We saw the Acropolis but refused to pay the €20 to go in and deal with the absurd crowds. Our tip: walk to the other mountain and you get a great view of all the architectural accomplishment, a great view of Athens itself and you have your own space to enjoy it. We had a small picnic and philosophised.

Stuffed with Thessaloniki

Another flight, another bus to another hotel.  Everybody is friendly, it’s very Utopic – as long as you ignore that most of everywhere is run down and out of business.  All we could do to help is spend.  Go there, give them your money!

(It’s going to sound like time travel, but I’m writing about the night first because that’s the first real thing of interest, the day time stuff of the first day was not really… write-worthy… I guess.)

A short walk from the hotel, passed the Roman forum, there’s a restaurant bazaar.  Pretty much you can close your eyes, spin and point (up and down too, it doesn’t matter) and you’ll be pointing at a restaurant with a waiter happy to show you their culinary greatness.  They are all in competition and I like to think that it has been this way since Heracles threw them all on top of each other.  The food is good.  We were loving here too, perhaps our second retirement place.  The walk also gave us a hint for dessert, there was a Chocolate Café.  We were to learn that the owner is actually a photographer but loves chocolate and coffee so much that he thought it would be fun to do!  The place has style, in a slapdash, hipster way.  I mentioned that I draw and showed some photos of my work.  We were then invited to return the next day so that maybe I could draw on the walls.  Ingrid and I weren’t 100% sure what this would entail, I hoped maybe it meant a return flight or something grand like that but she thought it mean sitting inside a café for a whole day and not seeing the city.  We walked around the city near the hotel until our eyelids were too heavy.

We slept well, our first time in days that we got to sleep in and then we hit up the bakeries for breakfast.  It was time to work.  The owner, George (Giorgis, I think), had pictures of what he had in mind and chalk for me to draw on the walls.  We were served delicious coffee mixed with chocolate to power us through.  The drawing took roughly 1 and a half hours, sometimes I was precariously positioned on a ladder, but it was fun and it looked “ok”.  I wasn’t impressed but I’ve not drawn with chalk since the early years.  We were then paid in chocolate, good deal.

The rest of the day was spent sight seeing, sitting around, all the casual stuff.  We ate a lot.

One Sweet Day: Chocolate Bar, you can see my art!  Here’s their Facebook  (no artwork there)

 

Feline Beauty in Mykonos

We woke up with not much sleep in our eyes and it turned out we had to hurry.  A mix up with timezones mean that we were an hour later than we were meant to be.  There was no accurate time to be ready because all we knew that the bus is supposed to come every half an hour… not sure when in the hour, just that the next one after the one you miss should be about a half an hour later.  I think we packed and checked out in record time.

Turned out to be unnecessary.

The bus came, we got to the airport with plenty of time and naturally the flight didn’t even start to board until it was already after the “gate closing” time.

Our first glimpse of Mykonos brought love.  The warm sun shines on little white buildings that roll down hills into picture perfect water.  We started to plan how to retire in such a place.  No joke.

We were greeted at our hotel by a hug from the hostess and a handshake from the “handyman”.  It was insanely friendly and warm, very welcoming.  We were about 6 hours too early for the regular check in but they said they could probably get us a room ready in an hour if we cared to wait.  We could go around the corner to get breakfast or down the street, but we should avoid the main part of town because that’s the tourist money trap.  When we eventually decided that maybe we should go somewhere, the room was ready!  We left our bags, received some directions and more tips, including an offer to go be driven, for free, to the best restaurant that only the locals know for dinner.

Basically we were heading to a beach, where we assumed we’d eat and relax.  If we didn’t get lost it would have been probably 20 minutes walk, but we took a scenic route so we never lost sight of the water.  It appeared that most, perhaps all of the island was still sleeping, so we were forced to go to a Supermarket to get our breakfast.  We had some fun staring at the Greek text to explain what each product was and walked away with olives, some mystery cheese, bread and water.

At the beach there are those lounging, reclining chairs, where you can sit or sleep while the water sends UV light into your skin.  There were only a few souls present, I asked the nearest person what was the deal and she said that it appeared to be free.  We sat, turned down the offers for great deals on handbags, clothes and massages that some of the early peddlers announced.  Even they were relaxed.  The water was nice, cool but not freezing cold.  We were to learn that we’d stayed too long.  After lunch time, when the seats were filling steadily, a young lady went around to all the loungers issuing receipts.  It was €15 per pair of seats.  I thought that by ordering something we could perhaps get away with this… not the case.  To make matters worse, the olives were great, we had now tried Greek coffee which was also great and that made us excited for the cheese.  It smelt dreadful and tasted worse!  I can only attempt to describe it as some kind of semi-soft off-milk sourness that had an acidic aftertaste like you’d wretched recently.  Although we felt obligated to get our money’s worth of the seats we’d really only seen the water and half the island.  We paid and left.

Craft is big here, so many shops offering trinkets, sometimes handmade, dominate the sale space.  We also looked at some art galleries and Ingrid tried a few dresses.  The Greek style suits her well.

Dinner was good, not amazing, although the chocolate soufflé proved to be better than what we had in Paris.  We had to go to bed early for another extremely early flight.  The Handyman said he’d come out 2 hours before his shift starts to take us and his “favourite girls” to the airport.

That wasn’t necessary.  The airport wasn’t even open when we arrived.  There were people and cats waiting around.  Cats were everywhere actually, even in the section after you get security scanned.  On the plus side, no mice.

Thanks to Sofia Village for making the time just that much more special.  I highly recommend you go here to book, if you’re ever in town: http://www.sofiavillage.gr/

I Wasn’t Expecting Sauerkraut

We’re safe in Athens. We missed our bus stop to get to the hotel. There’s probably some advice to be given here:

When you are using public transport, you can rely only upon yourself.
Sure they say you can buy the bus ticket from the bus driver but maybe they mean only if the moon is full and virgin goats are payment. You might have to buy the tickets from the kiosk nearby.
Sure they provide timetables but maybe that’s only applicable when virgin fish have learned to breath air and can walk the earth among us, as equals with sub – standard pay. We have been informed that the buses do come but you’re better off going and simply waiting.

Our hotel is nice, we have a great view, the hotel guy was super nice and he’s into Metal music. We are off to Mykonos from 4am because of this public transport situation.
Oh! We had a good dinner at a place called Mansion. Ingrid’s meal had Sauerkraut… of all things Greek.