What a city!

Arrived yesterday.

Lets begin with the flight from Milan to Athens.

Flew a German line. Aegean. Aegean is an affiliate/subsidiary of Lufthansa. The plane was a new airbus recently constructed by a French company. A big plane.

The trip takes only two hours. We flew south along the eastern coast of Italy. The rear side of the boot. Above the heel. Where the spur butts out. Then a left over the Aegean Sea.

The spur of Italy where we turned is the Puglia region. My mother was born in Puglia. In the town of Foggia. For whatever reason, I have felt my mother’s presence this entire trip. As the plane passed over Puglia, even more. She died more than 20 years ago.

The attendants are not referred to as such in this part of Europe. They are still stewardesses. Young. Not even thirty. No male stewards. It would appear age and sex discrimination are still alive in this part of the world.

The flight took all of two hours. Lunch was served. Yes, lunch. Not peanuts or pretzels. A terrific lunch.

Lunch consisted of two lamb sausages with vegetables. Cheese. Some terrific chocolate dessert. A very tasty cheese. Crackers.

Coffee at the end. In a real cup.

I had diet soda to drink. My glass was twice the size of one served in the United States. No ice. The soda cold. More soda for me.

And now the best, free alcohol. The woman next to me had a good sized bottle of red wine. The couple across from me cans of Heineken beer. Again, free.

My ticket cost $180 one way. I flew economy class.

Why the differences between a European flight and one in the United States?

A twenty mile cab ride to my hotel. I had selected a hotel close to the Parthenon so I could walk there each day.

The cab took me through old run down Athens. Much like a similar New York City neighborhood. Then the neighborhoods changed. All of a sudden I was on embassy row and the homes of ambassadors. Magnificent structures. All ancient Greek in style.

I wanted to engage the driver in conversation. He did not speak English. I did not speak Greek. I mentioned one word however that ignited him. He communicated effectively with me at that point. The word…..euro. He spun around to look at me. Yelled in his language what I suspect were profanities. Made it clear to me he was opposed to the euro, felt it had brought on Greece’s economic collapse. All this time he is driving looking at me. I understood he wanted a return to the old currency. The dracma.

He mentioned that Spain would be next to fall. He made it clear he did not like the Germans. They were economically sound while his country was going down the tubes. This economic problem was Germany’s fault. I suspect shades of World War II were still upon him. On the other hand, I found Italians were not happy with Germans either.

The driver appeared to be in his 60s.

Driving is crazy in Athens. Get out of the way! We were in the middle of Athens on a six lane highway going one way. The drivers were cutting each other off and cutting in front of each other. At excessive speeds.

Rather than fear the situation, I respected their abilities to drive so effectively. And without accident. At least I did not see one.

We drove past the Greek Parliament. An imposing building. Even more imposing was the plaza in front of the building. A concrete slab that appeared significantly larger than a football field. The place where demonstrations and riots took place. Such past activities could be sensed as you passed by.

We finally reached the hotel. I was excited. Supposedly a hop, skip and jump from Plaka. A place I was told was a fun area.

I checked in and headed for Plaka. Only two blocks away.

Plaka may be best described as a neighborhood. A big one. It sits at the foot of Acropolis. It is the oldest area in Athens. Sometimes  Plaka is refered to as the real Athens. Blocks and blocks of sidewalk cafes. Many inexpensive clothing and jewelry shops. Thousands of people. Yesterday, the day I was there. All ages. From all parts of the world. Enjoying themselves!

As opposed to Navarro, these people were smiling. Also they looked normal. Many overweight. Very few thin people.

I sat at one of the sidewalk cafes. Under a huge tree. Much like a Key West banyon tree.

Talking with people is easy here. I spoke with a table of Greek college students on one side. An Australian couple on the other. Everyone appears to love Americans. They were anxious to talk with me.

I found the preceding surprising. I was warned by many before the trip that Europeans in general dislike Americans. I don’t know what countries these people visited!

I walked a bit around the Plaka area. Came across some old ruins. Hadrian’s Library. Built in 132 AD by the Roman Emperor Hadrian. Books were kept there. The building had reading rooms and lecture rooms, also. Sounds much like a 21st century library to me.

I was impressed with the use of the building. That libraries existed back then. I was also impressed with the construction. That which remained. Such precision in the workmanship. Each stone similarly cut and placed in perfect position. I thought, why not. The Egyptians did it with the pyramids well before Hadrian’s Library was constructed.

Plaka again is at the foot of a huge hill. A semi-mountain. Topside sits the Parthenon and Acropolis. Rising up the sides of the mountain are many outside cafes. It was past dinner time and I decided to try one.

The hill was steep. The stairs going up and down equally steep. People dining in outside cafes on each side of the steps.

Each restaurant had one or more persons working that I would describe as hustlers. They would stand on the steps and literally pull you into their restaurant.

I wanted to sit at the very top. It was a hard trip. I had to stop a couple of times and sit on a stoop to catch my breath. I finally made it. The hustler turned out to be from Canada. He was in his 60s. He told me his life’s story. His wife had divorced him after 40 years. I said don’t feel bad. My wife did it after fifty two years. He had recovered however from the misfortune. He now considered the divorce a fortuitous happening. He had met a younger woman. A Greek. Fell in love. Now lived in Greece full time with her.

The meal was only so so. I was disappointed. I had a lamb dish. The lamb was tough.

The strenuous walk up the steps was worth it. I could see all the way down and over the rooftops of Athens. It was dark and everything was lite up.

After dinner, I searched for some Greek music and dancing. I could find none. Perhaps it was too early. I did find a piano bar. Stopped inside. Stayed briefly. The entertainer was no Larry Smith.

Today it is my intention to go to the very top of the hill. By cab, I assume. The Parthenon and Acropolis await me.

I wanted to take pictures. I will before I am done. To share with you. I bought a new cell phone. I should not have. It is screwed up. By me. I cannot get it unscrewed. Cannot use it in any fashion.

At breakfast this morning, I met another coupler from Australia. They had a tablet and offered it to me to write my blog. I knew it would take too long. As it turned out, I became totally frustrated with the learning process. My age was showing.

I am doing today’s blog from a second floor internet shop. About 40 computers available for rent by the hour. Cost is 3 euros an hour. That is about $4.20 American money. The way I type, it will take forever. My drinking money for today is being used up.

The room is large. Many people. Body heat and machine heat. No air conditioning. I will require another shower when I finish.

Enjoy you day! I am mine!



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