05.27.2011 - 05.27.2011
Athens itself can really be done on one day, although there are plenty of surrounding areas to visit as well. We did a little looking into a day trip, but tours were expensive and since we knew we would likely want to do a tour on Santorini, we decided to have a lazy day and save the money for something else. For the first time in our two weeks abroad, we did not set our alarm and slept in. It was wonderful!
Once we got moving, we took the train to the port of Athens, Piraeus. We had to pick up our ferry tickets and also just wanted to check it out. Once we got there, we realized there wasn’t too much to see, so returned to Athens on our same train ticked (valid for 90 minutes) and wondered the streets looking for food and gifts. The trouble with Athens streets is that they are difficult to maneuver. First of all, you have to keep your eyes on the sidewalks to dodge the poops the stray dogs and cats leave about. If Dubrovnik was the town of cats, this was certainly the town of random dogs. If you are wearing flip flops, you also have to side step the marble stones as once they are wet they are like a slip and slide. You also have to look up once in a while as traffic is horrible in Athens, so motor bikes just drive on the sidewalks at any point. Roads are just a guideline, so if you aren’t paying attention you will get run over while on the sidewalk. At the same time you have restaurants hollering at you to look at their menu. Keeping your sunglasses on allows you about two seconds to make a sideways glance at their sign to get a first glimpse of prices before they attack. If you don’t have sunglasses, you have no hope and should just look straight ahead or down at all times. You have to look at prices carefully before agreeing as one place will have the same meal for twice the price of the guy a block down – of course his is the best, only uses freshest ingredients and for you, a glass of local wine, blah, blah, blah. The sunglasses also work for shop owners, also sprawled into the sidewalk who want you to buy their belts, sandals, pottery, etc. again the same stuff as the guy next door. Throw into the mix, a husband who likes to walk like he is late for class at all times, and wandering the streets in search of food and gifts had hopeless written all over it for me. I took to just dodging the poop bombs and let Nate deal with the shops and restaurants. His excuse by the end was “oh, we just ate” but the restaurants got smart and came back with “oh, well then you can have a beer…” - we couldn’t win.
I have this habit where I set out to buy something for someone else and during this process, I find something for me. No fail, every time. So we were out looking for gifts to bring home for folks, and I stopped into a rug shop to see if they had something for my sister. I of course found a wool rug that I fell in love with (sorry Susie, no rug for you) and of course they knew it. They brought down the price significantly as I stood there and thought about it. Next thing you know, we have wine in our hands and they are telling Nate where the closest ATM is. It is handmade (for real) and as far as rugs go, it was a fair price. I of course was very happy with my new purchase, I just now need a house to put it in – so if you look at it that way, Nate should be happy with the rug as it was a lot cheaper than a house. I don’t think he sees it that way though.
At this point, the black clouds and thunder moved in again and we booked it home to hide out from the rain. Luckily, the Greeks take American TV shows and just use subtitles instead of re-dubbing the voices, so we watched Friday Night Lights and some other TV show in English. Once it cleared up only three hours later this time, we headed out in search of dinner. I know I mentioned it before, but Nate LOVES gyros/kebab in all shapes and forms. And because they are so cheap, he loves them even more. So we had yet another gyro for dinner, as the lunch one wasn’t enough for him. All said, Nate sampled 5 different gyros in Athens in the 2.5 days we were there. If I wasn’t there to say no to gyros for breakfast, he probably would have had more. I actually don’t mind the chicken ones, some are certainly better than others, although the french fries within the gyro just isn’t my thing. We then headed home to pack as we had a 7:25am boat to catch and needed to get some sleep before the long journey to Santorini island.