|Sharon loved this pretzel bread|
Athens is a vibrant international city and most notably is the high fashion for both men and women. Most of the women sport heels with heights competing with the Ionic columns. Sunglasses, a must accessory, usually with lenses as big as pizza pans and all seemingly from there neighbor across the Adriatic Sea. Athens is a people watching town because the general public uses public transportation plus the streets are littered with outdoor cafes all full during the peak midday or late night hours. The most fun to watch are the lovely older women who dress to the nines that meet in groups of 4 to 8 at a table. The expressions and body language of these matriarchs could satisfy any film director. These ladies enjoy life to the hilt sharing stories, gossip, ordering food, and drinks. I could never get enough of these shows.
|Athens has style...this is the quintessential vespa|
Syntagma square is the heart of Athens action whether it be events, charity races, or political protests. On our walk about through parks, museums, and wondering in general we came across many strongly organized protests and some just spur of the moment ones. Greece is experiencing migrant problems as much or more than the United States. The Greeks live life very carefree but the overwhelming numbers of illegal influx is eroding their culture, their economics,, and placing pressure upon the government to create a solution to the massive debt situation we’ve all read about. Reduction of pay and loss of retirement benefits much like our social security is already happening. Sales of assets are being contemplated this week and some even speculate real estate such as the beautiful outlying islands may be sold to corporations or other countries such as Turkey. There is nothing the average Grecian can do other than be Greek and adopt the adage “Who cares”. This is a very critical time for a very proud and important culture. I only hope the EU can come to its senses and defuse such insanity for its people. I’ll tell you a story that parallels this crisis. I asked a person about the seemingly sparse fish population in the Mediterranean Sea. They said it once was teeming with fish but once the Suez Canal was completed and pierced the land between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean the more aggressive fish of the Red Sea began to devour the better tasting schools of fish from the Mediterranean ruining the Greek fishing industry. This didn’t happen right away but very slowly over decades. The same goes for the people of Greece, at first it wasn’t a problem to have some people immigrate but as time moved on, the Greeks are becoming a minority in their own lands.
|Lots of food and wine...the reason for the lack of focus|
Bags were packed, ferry times were checked, and our anticipation to leave Athens for the island of Ios and Crete started to peak. The night before departure we had one more dinner with Irini. We waited on the sidewalk outside the Metropolis Hotel because as I mentioned before, the lobby holds three people max and the lobby seating are the stairs that lead up to the rooms. The cool night air added to the quick stylish gate of Irini walking up to us with her classic welcoming grin. We gathered in a tight circle as she explained she wanted to take us to a small neighborhood taverna but it was a bit of a walk. Walking is no problem with us and off went dashed past all the very touristy cafes overflowing with plates of Gyros and Moussaka. Down alley ways, over bridges, past ruins, to the back side of………down some more narrow handsome residential streets then a quick turn up a short street to a door that seemed like someone’s home more than a restaurant. Immediately we were greeted by tables of joyous locals joining in the musical performance of a mixed age of musicians that keep the energy high providing the sustenance for serious dance turned silly much to the joy of everyone. Irini ordered many dishes, comprising of various meats, fish, and vegetables all complimented with many carafes of local rose wine, yes rose, but not what you think of when you stop your friends from ordering the sweet stuff in the US. Sharon and I couldn’t have wanted for anything else. We ate, discussed everything you can image, listened to the drunken music, and watched the dancing until it was time to wonder back through the lanes all beautifully enriched by classic architecture. Except for a few popular cafes, the streets were quiet as we strolled back to our hotel. This time we said our goodbyes to Irini and thanked her for generosity and hospitality. Once more we peered out our hotel window knowing the next evening we would be on the island of Ios. Where? We’ll discover that tomorrow.