Sunday, September 20, 2009


Friday, November 9th, 2007 The sun is shining and all is well…..

Woke before 5 am, finished packing and headed for the dining room for an early breakfast before six. We left the ship about 6:30 and headed for customs; a breeze since we were able to handle our own luggage and the ship had cleared customs for us before returning the passports last night. Found a waiting room with benches that was full of taxi drivers waiting for people to retrieve their luggage; they all smoke constantly. Jim couldn’t handle the air in the room so while I watched our luggage he continued to walk outside to check on our driver who was scheduled for 7:15. He arrived right on time, the same driver who had taken us to the airport for Istanbul. Or should I say, Constantinople, the Greek name; and of course it should really be the Ellinas’ name as the Greek citizens don’t refer to themselves as Greek but as Ellinas. That would be roughly translated in English as Hellenes. Have I confused everybody enough? It’s all Greek to me.

We drove straight to the President Hotel and they had a room waiting for us. This one was a triple with three single beds so we had room and beds to spare. Put everything down and headed for the Optical store across the street that the desk clerk had pointed out when we registered. It was still closed so we went back to the hotel to wait for 9 am. Then Jim went across the street and she said he would have to leave them overnight. He explained that we were leaving at 6 am and he had to have them fixed TODAY. She gave him an address in the center of the city for us to go direct to the repairman.

By then it was 9:30 and they were serving breakfast until ten so we decided to have brunch before heading to the Metro. I had to read all the maps and directions (which I generally do anyway) but we found the shop without too many detours. At one point a gentlemen stopped to help us with perfect English. He’d lived in Santa Monica for several years and easily pointed us in the right direction. The shop was upstairs and couriers were going in and out the whole time we were there. No way to redo the screws that he drilled out but since the wing was not titanium he was able to use super glue to affix the wing to the lens. Twenty minutes later we were walking out with glasses repaired. Jim called our successful quest today: “The Great Greek Optical Odyssey”.

We were about eight blocks from the Archeological Museum that we’d visited earlier and Jim wanted to return again so we headed in that direction. I found a nice outdoor coffee shop and stayed there for an hour as Jim went back into the museum to see more of their artifacts. I had a new book that I’d brought from home on the recommendation of my sister called “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini. Cracked the book and enjoyed reading while I slowly consumed lemon pie and coffee. It’s cool outside but the sun is shining and it was a great afternoon for enjoying the outdoor. After about an hour, I used the facilities and then walked over to the stone steps at the entrance of the museum and found a great, but cold, perch on the marble entrance; sitting on the map, I continued reading for another half hour before Jim arrived and we walked back to towards Omonia Square and the Metro Station. As we neared the square we noticed that the streets were block by police and when we arrived we stood and watched the university students (we assumed) march with huge signs down the main street named 28 Oktovriou - Patission; there were hundreds of them but very orderly, almost like soldiers matching as they chanted their slogans of protest for something. We have no idea what they were protesting but it was also on the Greek news stations in the evening. Back at the hotel we purchased an Internet card and signed on to send our emails, journal and photos from the Cruise from the comfort of our room using a wireless connection.

About 5 pm we walked to the Doukissa Restaurant that we’d so enjoyed before going to Istanbul last week. The owner was very glad to see us and after dinner stood and talked with us for about half an hour while he also insisted on giving us dessert and several shots of a 41% proof Greek Liqueur called Tsipouro. (pronounced Chiporo). It is made after the grapes are pressed for wine…they take the skins and continue to process them to make this high content liqueur. You drink it in small shots much like tequila, all at once. We had a special treat as he brought out the homemade bottle made by his father-in-law. He also told us never to drink on an empty stomach. Did I say, we were the only English speaking guests in the restaurant? We talked also about the Greek dining hours: Breakfast is about 10, lunch is 2 then a nap from 5 -7pm and dinner never starts until at the earliest 10 pm up to 2 am. The tourists are an anomaly in their eating hours. We asked if this wasn’t his naptime and he said yes, but they were short two girls so he had to forgo his nap and work. His wife called while we were speaking to remind him to come home to bed. He also talked with us about the Greek vocabulary and how we actually know many Greek words when we take apart the English words. Fascinating couple of hours before we headed for the hotel and an hour on the Internet before calling it a night, 5 am will come early in the morning; again!

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