Goodbye Athens!

Hello Santorini!

I am sitting in the most beautiful place in the world writing this blog. In one of those white caves on the side of a mountain. The ocean, islands and a dead volcano before me.

Santorini. But Santorini is for tomorrow. I want to share first my last full day in Athens.

As is evident from my previous blogs, I love Athens! Athens is easy to love, however.

I started my last day in Athens at a small outdoor cafe on a back street. Glad I did! The menu set forth a prosciutto and cheese toasted sandwich. It was cheap. Sounded like a Greek version of Cuban cheese toast with tomato. I ordered it.

I was correct! Two very thin slices of white bread without crust. Toasted. A slice of prosciutto and a great tasting cheese pressed between the slices of bread. Outstanding.

The hotel of hotels in Athens is the Grand Britannia. I stopped in to look it over. Magnificent! Decided to have a cup of coffee.

The Greeks do things in a big way. My coffee was served in the main dining room.

I ordered turkish coffee. Had never had it before. Will never have it again. Did not like it. Turkish coffee is thick. Your spoon can almost stand alone in the cup. That is how thick it is! Coffee grains come with the coffee. They end up sitting in the bottom of the cup. A good amount. It is not easy to drink turkish coffee without occasionally having to deal with the grains.

In addition, I did not like the taste. Try turkish coffee if you have the opportunity. You might like it. Different strokes for different folks.

The Grand Britannia dining room was elaborate. At one end there were two palm trees sitting two stories high. Palm trees in Athens? I walked over to take a closer look  The maitre de came over. Real I asked. He said yes. I said no. We had a language problem. He was trying to tell me the outer trunks were real and stuffed. The palms not real.

I figured I had seen the only palm trees in Athens. Turns out I was wrong. The rest of the day I saw several. Smaller than the ones in the Grand Britannia dining room. Real.

I was tired. The heat was getting to me. I decided to walk back to my hotel and take a nap.

As I walked towards the hotel, the air and temperature must have been just right. All of a sudden I could smell the outdoor food stands, cart foods and outdoor cafes. The smell was unique. The last time I experienced it was in my college days in New York City. Bronx and Times Square times.

I finally made it to the hotel and my air conditioned room. Television in Athens is in Greek. I know no Greek. I turned it on anyhow to look at the picture screen. Better than nothing! I watched Top Gun with Tom Cruise and Key West’s own Kelley McGillis. I watched it all. In Greek. I had seen the movie enough times to understand what was going on.

It was my last night in Athens. Still no Greek dancing and throwing of dishes. Walked through the Plaka area where I had been two evenings earlier. Stopped at the outside cafe where I had done my drinking. The manager recognized me. He gave me directions to the place I wanted to go. I stayed with him a while. This is pro basketball play off time in Europe. I do not know who was playing. I whooped it up with my friend and his friends. Our team lost by 20 points.

European professional basketball is not up to the same standard as American ball. It was obvious. I never mentioned it, however. I told every one the teams were great, Especially their team.

The restaurant turned out to be on the poor side of Acropolis and the Parthenon. Outdoor cafes galore. Acropolis and the Parthenon plus other smaller temples sitting up on the hill. A bit farther away than the restaurant I had enjoyed the view from the night before. Drinks and food seventy per cent cheaper.

I sat their enjoying the night lite version of ancient Greece. Then the music started. Greeks are fun people. Their country may be going down the tubes economically They are partying as the ship sinks. Good for them!

The other side of the mountain is also known as the Rockefeller side. Much of the Rockefeller Foundation renovation money was spent on the poor side. An interesting mixture of wealth and those not so fortunate.

There was music. All night. Two players. A piano board player and a guitar player. A singer. Looked like and sang like Key West’s Peter Diamond. Even down to the hat.

Dancing started with the women. All ages. Even into the 80s. All kind of dances. On some occasions, a man would get up and dance alone. He reminded me of a swan. Why, I don’t know. Just so graceful.

Every one smokes in Greece. The piano and guitar players. The dancers. Even the guy who danced. A cigarette was hanging from their lips.

No dish breaking. I was disappointed. It was outlawed several years ago.

I finally got into it. Ended up on the dance floor. Every one took pity on me. I was shown various steps. Within minutes, I was Greek.

Greeks are happy. They sit at their tables and sing. Warm, also. I saw many couples touching and kissing each other. Generally those 50 and older.

I had to hustle this morning. An early plane to Sanitori. I am here. Tomorrow a different Greece.

I cannot close without expressing myself on an issue. The Catholic Church and its attempted hit on the nuns. I believe the Vatican and U.S. Conference of Bishops are on the wrong kick.

As you are aware, the nuns have their own union type organization. It is known as the Leadership Conference. Some 80,000 nuns strong. And being women, they are strong. Strong willed.

A former spokesman for the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement yesterday knocking the nuns. The nuns have come out in support of things like contraception.

He said…..”Does it occur to them (the nuns) that they might need some help?” He was referring to the fact that the number of nuns diminishes each year.

A nonsensical observation on his part. What of the Catholic Church itself? There are fewer Churches today that 20-30 years ago. Most have closed because there are fewer Catholics or fewer supporting organized Catholic religion. As many as up to four Churches have been closed at one time and combined into one parish.

Fewer and fewer those of the male gender are entering the priesthood.

It appears that whoever made the statement on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Bishops was in effect the pot calling the kettle black.

Interestingly, the nuns are also advocating that women be permitted to become priests. Threatening to the Church hierarchy?

Rome through the U.S. Conference of Bishops have told the nuns to stand down. To cease and desist. I doubt it will occur.

So there is no misunderstanding, I am a Catholic. A fallen away one, so to speak. Nevertheless a product of a Catholic education. Grammar school, high school and college. Also a husband at one time whose wife had five consecutive pregnancies in five years. We lost the last one. There was a reluctance back then for Catholics to practice birth control.

Rome would have done better to pick its battle. Especially when the Catholic Church is still dealing with its own problems. Like the Catholic Church covering up pedophilic activities on the part of priests for more than twenty years.

Enough spouting off for today.

Enjoy your day! Join me tomorrow for another part of fabulous Greece!

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