Monday, September 21, 2009

ROUGH SEAS

Saturday, November 10th, 2007 An extra day in Athens due to bad weather….

Up by 5 and down for the taxi that we’d scheduled for 6 am. The weather was cold and blustery, but we didn’t think too much about it. The taxi driver taught me a new word as he greeted us with a hearty “kalimera” and a few minutes later as we settled into the ride I said to him a hearty “good morning” and he repeated back to me his original greeting that sounds like “calamari”. Ah, new word for my vocabulary, easy to remember because it sounds likes the octopus when it is cooked.

We arrived at the port of Piraeus and he dropped us at the ticket office for the Blue Ferry Line. It was even windier here, and within a few minutes we discovered why the guide books tell you not to count on the ferries always running! They were shut down tight because of the brewing storms rolling in from the southeast. We looked up at the flags and they were standing at attention fulltime!

Dawn arrived and they unlocked the waiting rooms near the ship. We hadn’t purchased our tickets yet and at this point no one was selling any tickets. The rooms and dock were full of people arriving, leaving, and staying and generally in a quandary as they continued to hold out hope that if the storm let up they would sail. In the past, this type of storm wasn’t an issue and they sailed in all types of weather. But, because of several ships going down in the last few years; now they do not always sail in some types of weather. Jim is sure that it’s because we’re in an off season and this way they’ll be able to fill the ship tomorrow. About 8 am I found a telephone booth and called Julie to let her know that it looked like we were not going to Paros today. I woke her up and she suggested that I wait awhile before calling the gardener/property manager, Aristos, in Paros to let him know not to meet us at the port today.

Suddenly we saw that the rain was eminent and we had to make some decisions. Up to this point we’d only had the two tiny croissants and three cookies to share that I’d tucked into my pack yesterday at the restaurant where I’d eaten my lemon pie. I thought we might need them this morning and also; they were placed on every table with a pitcher of water when you ordered something to eat. It was about 9 am and we rushed to cross the bridge over the street that took us to the Metro Station. Yes, we could have easily ridden the Metro to the port and saved about fifteen euro; but that is now hindsight. There we found clean rest rooms and a coffee shop where we purchased cokes (for caffeine) and a large buttery croissant for each of us. That entitled us to use the table for a couple of hours. The rain poured as we entered the station and the wind was ferocious as it turned umbrellas inside out and knocked over the newspaper stands! I was amazed that the flags were not ripped from their standards. I found the telephone again about 9 am and called Aristos in Paros; he said he would meet us tomorrow.

Jim left me at the coffee shop and headed out to find an inexpensive hotel in the area for the night. It’s a rather seedy area so I didn’t hold any great hopes for something super; we’re looking for cheap and clean. He found us one two blocks away for only 50 euro for the night. We waited for a break in the rain and took our bags over to the hotel and then headed into the city by Metro. It was nearly one o’clock when we called Julie again to let her know that we’d contacted Aristos and had a room for the night. She said she’d emailed us this morning to invite us to stay at her place but we hadn’t been online. Just as well; we’ll be close to the ship in the morning and not have to get up quite so early.

She invited us to her home in Ano Glifada for dinner about 6 pm. Because of our schedule they’re dining very early and also it’s possible because Dimitris works outside and will be quitting early because of the rain.

So we had four hours for walking the city. We’d already walked the Monastiraki district, the old bazaar in the city of Athens, but decided to start our walk there. It butts up against the Plaka and Acropolis and has been there for centuries. Many antiques, we saw one open air shop with dining room chairs, definitely used, and one of a kind; out of about thirty we didn’t see any two that matched.

Headed over towards the Adams Hotel that we’d found last week and seemed like a good value. We’d emailed them and the Carolina Hotel last night on the Internet inquiring about rooms for three nights before we leave Athens after Thanksgiving. Couldn’t find it and ended up walking to Vitro’s where we’d eaten dinner twice. It was really getting cold and we’d left our sweatshirts back at the hotel.

We had the use of the WC and shared a baked feta cheese dish with our chocolate and coffee. After half an hour we headed back out into the street. One of our quests has been for a Christmas ornament from Greece for our neighbor Mary whom we met in Corfu. Now the stores are busy putting out the displays of Christmas decoration but we’ve been unable to find one that symbolized Greece. We stopped at a particularly nice store in the Plaka; the staff was very busy unpacking all their Christmas stock. I asked about an ornament that had “Greece” written on it and WOW…he had some! We were able to select from four different balls and so now we have fulfilled another quest. We also purchased a very small bottle of the Tsipouro Liqueur for us on Paros and another larger one to take to Julie and Dimitris for a gift when we go there for dinner this evening.

By this time we were both freezing and found beige wool sweaters that zipped up for a nice snug fit around the neck. Nothing special, mine is a little large, and we got them for only ten euros each. Jim showed the fellow how to tie a single and a double Windsor knot for his friend who was in need of a tie. I don’t think he made much money on us but enjoyed our company. Finally warm, we headed out towards the Adams and Carolina hotels that we now knew how to find. The Adams was very nice for the price and located in the Plaka. We made a tentative reservation with them for Nov. 24 -26. Then we headed towards the Carolina near Sindagma Square and found it was even nicer but a little higher in price. The desk clerk would not negotiate on the price. We’ve since received an email that gives us a great price so we’re in a quandary as to where to go when we return to Athens after Thanksgiving.

From there were walked to the Parliament building and the tomb of the Unknown Soldier to watch the guards as they strutted there drills. They’ve now changed into winter uniforms of black wool jackets and black, instead of red, tassels on their shoes. Then we went into the Metro Station. Looked for a WC but since we couldn’t find one we headed out to the McDonalds where we had our first coffee that early morning several weeks ago when we arrived. Used their facilities and then back to the Metro and a stroll through the art exhibit of photographs. Very beautiful and expensive, the price sheet was from a low of 700 euros up to 1500 euros for the most expensive.

The Metro ride to Julie’s area wasn’t too long. We’d had wind all day but no rain since arriving in town. She lives south of Athens along the coast and when we came up from the Metro Station it was pouring. We opened our umbrellas and headed for the taxi stand per Julie’s instruction. Had a bit of a wait in that people were very aggressive and pushed past us in line; finally found one and handed him Julie’s address. He punched it into his GPS system and we were off for a short ride to her house; arrived right on time at 6 pm.

Julie lives in a very nice flat on the second floor; she’s been there about five years. We were worried about Dimitris doing the BBQ in the rain, but the patio was covered with a tent (awning) and it was no problem. Julie is definitely used to entertaining. Being in the travel business she hosts many cocktail parties during cruises for her clients and tonight was excellent. And with next to no notice as we’d expected to visit them after we returned from Paros, not before we left! She had caviar for us, Jim had red wine and I enjoyed shots of Vodka with mine. Then it was shrimp cocktails. Dinner was a delicious asparagus soup, steak, Greek style hamburgers, baked potatoes, salad and apple pie for dessert. So enjoyed our evening, ate too much but sure enjoyed every bite. Great place with lots of family photos and mementos from her twenty plus years of travel; just before leaving Jim asked about the skull on the wall and she’d actually purchased it many years ago in California at the Bowers Museum.

Dimitris, that’s Greek for James so we also called him Jimmy, put us into the car and we thought he was taking us to the Metro Station. When he asked what street our hotel was on we suddenly found out that he was taking us all the way back to the port and our hotel. Hadn’t expected that and enjoyed the ride through the streets to our hotel. We arrived back at the hotel about 10 pm and after showers hit the bed. The sheets were very clean but the blanket smelled of smoke; but we were dry, clean and ready for the morning.

1 comment:

Womankind said...

I'm loving following you along through Greece. Keep those posts a-coming!

I am just beginning to plan for our trip to Europe for next SPring....good Lord willin and the creek don't rise.

love,

Nancy