A day in Athens

After a very nice inhouse breakfast I headed towards, wherever. First stop the beautiful little old church down the street a little way. Orthodox and with men singing and chanting and a priest in a fancy dress kept his back to us all as he ‘did things’ and mumbled incantations. Small church, a chapel even. The (mainly) pedestrian roads go around it.

Very busy, mainly women inside, each kissing one or more pictures, or the cross, as they entered. All the while, outside, a drone buzzed irritatingly about 4 m above ground all around the building. I often wonder who watches the crappy movies most drone flyers must make! Must be like the horrible slide evenings we attended as kids: poor quality slides, boring and worse. Thankfully the drone was disappeared quickly at the behest of two police officers. 

Smoking is common. I’m having coffee outside and, as usual, most are smoking. More common even than in spain. So is the graffiti on buildings, stationery objects generally. Ugly tagging mostly and many empty shops in places. It’s a bit depressing on the edges of the central tourist area. 

My neighbours in the cafe are speaking Spanish. One is learning, and sounds good. Very few english speakers. Well, except for a small proportion of my fellow 50,000 tourists. The hotel tv has only 1 english and 1 French language channel. Rest are Greek. Signs and shop names are often in english and Greek. Except for IKEA. Of course.

The cafe is in one of the streets running through the large fresh produce market. Maybe it’s the day or season, maybe it’s because I’ve seen so many more markets all over the world since I was here the first time but it’s a little tired and rundown. Bought figs but reckon I’ve done my dough. I just can’t pick them. Cheap and very possibly past being cheerful. Fingers crossed I’m not too late for the Spanish fig season. Roadside fig and blackberry pickings were sparse last year as it’d been so dry. This year? 🤞

And the cakes. Lots everywhere. No longer tempting. And then there’s the rice pudding….😸 Now that is a favourite I remember here last time, an improvement on the yellow, pink or chocolate coloured versions of the then-recent rice pudding from boarding school. Yes, school milk generally was one of those 3 colours in Tasmania. Luckily for me  😏. 

And now, I’m near the top of the big hill that looks over to the acropolis and the port of Piraeus. At the station of the cross 14 (?) chapel, below, a beautiful male voice was chanting and you could hear him from a long way down the hill. Lots of people in and standing around the small chapel with its many colourful pennants. 

Don’t know why so many as they were not obviously tourists. Like being part of the church overflow at a funeral. Maybe it was. After a while I left and continued to the top of the hill and the cafe. The view just gets better and better as you go up. I thought it was St Johns hill but it’s George’s church at the top. And many maps here use Greek script so I can’t always read the text.  

You can see the acropolis from here and right past it to the port of Piraeus, where my little sailing group will meet on Saturday. 
Made one error with the sailing trip: didn’t read the what-to-take list until late. My focus was on collecting lightweight gear for walking in spain after the boat. 

Imagine my surprise when I found the list recommended a dress or skirt to wear to dinner! A dress! For dinner! Years since I tried one on. Not sure what it means for who my fellow travellers will be. Two arrive from Canada tomorrow and are staying in the same place as me. So, interesting times. I know there is one coming in on the Saturday from the USA. Maybe there are only 4 of us. I think 6 was the upper limit. I’ll soon know. 

Slept ok last night. If you ignore two hours of drinking coffee, reading and hoping to sleep again from about 2am on. Finished the few dates left over from my time in the emirates club in Dubai. So tonight I’m starving. Grilled octopus and greens at a place nearby that got a good write up. Seem to be in a reasonable area, to the side of the Plaka. Could just be that many places near here are written up because it’s a tourist area and it means little for the food! More a function of customer numbers. Hopefully not.     

And the meal was fine. Locally picked greens, the slight bitterness countered by sliced and grilled capsicum and small tomatoes and also some grilled octopus on a lentil salad. A good dinner. Yup, kiddies hour so getting a seat was easy and I could ignore the nearby smokers. 

Clearly there is a positive association between poor economic circumstances and smoking. Graffiti, the tagging type, fits in that equation too.

Absence of pictures? Did you guess wifi upload speed? Yup! Less than 0.01Mb/sec. Equals semi moribund. Equals no pictures this time. 

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