Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Ikea BookBook

Roadtripping through Attica and Peloponnesus

Sadly I'm finding the more wonderful my days are, the harder it is to find the time and space to recount them.

I made my way over to the place of Marianna's friends John and Anna to embark on our roadtrip. I took what I thought was the correct bus but it turned up on a street prior to my expected journey. I got off at the first stop, and was annoyed at my mistake. But as I replayed the map in my head, realized that it probably took me closer to my destination in terms of distance to walk up route. I walked through the silent neighborhood, empty in the August slumber until I found their apartment complex. The area, I later found out, was home to Athens' anarchists and was basically a no-go area for the police.

I caught up with my roadtrip friends and we headed out into the quiet morning. We passed signs out on the road for Markopaulo, and I smiled. We got outside of Athens on the road through Attica, and the hills were lined with windmills. An auspicious sign, indeed. We drove through the verdant Greek countryside, which alternately reminded me of both Israel and California. John and Anna are local music producers for metal and post-rock shows, and immediately we got chatting about the ins-and-outs of the music biz, and how my work on the public diplomacy side differed from theirs in the private commercial sector.

We drove for a while as we snaked up the mountains leading up to Delphi. We arrived to Delphi a few a hours later and checked into our hotel in the picturesque town. We dropped our gear and wandered through the alleys as we took in the wide valley below. After some unsuccessful searching for lunch spots, we ascended to another part of the city and found a wonderful little taverna that overlooked the valley.

Lunch was immaculate. We sat out in the little taverna, drinking cold rose out clay pitchers and feasted on a Greek salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, feta and an added surprise of capers on the vine. The saltiness of the capers really made the salad. The main course came, and we feasted on delicious roasted lamb that we squeezed lemon juice upon. There was a phenomenal stew with caramelized onions swimming in a wine and plum sauce. We had sides of gigante beans and dolmas stuffed in zucchini flowers, which were incredible. We sat for hours, eating and drinking while we took in the view. The restaurant brought us an incredible dessert of kanafe cake and Greek yogurt cheese cake that we munched with Greek coffee and ouzo. We almost begged off the entire day.

We rallied and made our way out of the town a bit to get to the famous grounds of the Oracle of Delphi. We wandered through the ruins as we took in the old crumbled temples that once gave divine wisdom to the priestesses of the Oracle. The sun was setting across the wide valley, and the old columns began to cast shadows on the dusty ground.

We caught the sun set across the valley from the promenade overlooking the ravine below.  We returned for some rest back in the hotel. Later, we ventured back out for a free concert in the town square next to the old church. Greek melodies filled the cobbled stone square, and I swam in the lucid charm of the Greek tunes. We had an added surprise for the night's concert: free icecream and free beer (!) offered by the night's entertainment.

The next morning, we had breakfast at the charming hotel's charming balcony that overlooked the ravine. The morning went slow as we sipped espresso and Greek coffee and snack on soft halva cake. I thought I knew halva from the Middle East, but this was not the dry, flaky variety I knew but rather a soft delicate cake. The morning ended with a glass of ouzu to mark the afternoon.

We finally pried ourselves away from our wonderful stay, and got back out on the road to Nafpaktos. We drove along the Aegean Sea coast, as I stared out into the blue expanse. We stopped for a coffee and a break at the most idyllic shore. We sat under a craggy tree on smooth, worn rocks as the waves lapped against the shore. In my dreams, I never left.

We stopped in a cafe I could only term as paradise, with beautiful yellow stained glass and mahogany-stained furniture that overlooked the sea. Again, I had to be pried away, and we continued on to Nafpaktos.

We arrived to Nafpaktos, and were famished in the afternoon heat. We sat out in a restaurant off the beach, and stared out at the long bridge that connected Attica to Peloppenesseus. Lunch continued the immaculate trend, and we dined on korice-- sheep liver wrapped in intestines and grilled over a spit. We added skewers of chicken souvlaki and delicious kefta (greek burgers) with lemon juice, as well as Greek salad and tzatziki. The ouzo looked like the milky-white caps of the waves rushing to shore.

We continued through Nafpaktos, stopping shortly to take some pictures of the old stone harbor with windmills in the distance on mountains high above. I noticed a statue and got a strange feeling looking at it. In my cursory Greek, I slowly read the letters. My eyes widened. “Cervantes?” I asked the gentleman standing next to me. “Neh (yes),” he replied. I ran back to the car to show my Dulcinea the auspicious find.

We crossed the cabled bridge into Peloponneseus and made our way to Marianna's family's country house in Rio. Ironic that I would be staying in Rio, when it was in Rio that such Greek adventures were made. We sat out in the lovely gardens as the sun set, drinking rum and amplifying music in a clay bowl from an i-phone.

The next day was slow and idyllic. We munched peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and squares of feta and pesto as we took the day as slow as possible. Later in the afternoon, we rallied and went for a swim in the Aegean. After the salty swim, we sat out in a restaurant overlooking the bridge as the sun set golden in the horizon and lit the cables in an effulgent glow. We dined on sea-fare, and I had to make a kosher exception to try some squid swimming in garlic and olive oil, and some fried calamari.

The following day, we drove out to the Ionian Sea. The winds of the beach were profound, and assaulted us with sandy granules. I took a dip in the emerald waters, and marveled that in a week I had been for a dip in both the Aegean and Ionian seas.

We drove back to Patra, a bit famished and having a difficult time finding something open for dinner. We found a cafe overlooking the Aegean, and watched the sun set from up on high. The green city lights slowly came on, and traffic let a yellow blur in the town below.

In my dreams, I didn't leave Rio either. But we did, and after cleaning up we headed out the next afternoon to Olympia—home of the first Olympic games. We wandered through the ancient ruin site, and climbed up on a hill to grab some shade as we watched young Olympians race on the remaining track.

We visited the wonderful museum, with its incredible statue of Hermes. I sat on the ground of the room that housed the wonderfully-well preserved statue and admired the Greek messenger.

We tore ourselves free from the museum, and grabbed a nice last meal in the town. We also found a fascinating museum on Archimedes (Evrika!). The museum chronicled the brilliance of Archimedes and his groundbreaking-inventions. 

Give me a place to stand on, and I will move the earth

There were interactive demonstrations of Archimedes' genius, he was millenia ahead of his time.

Don't disturb my circles...

We made our way back through the mountains as the sun set. Villages with little yellow and white lights punctuated the darkness and looked like patches of stars in the night's sky. We made our way back to Athens, and I was left swimming in thoughts and a new reality.

PS: The Athens Remainder

The rest of Athens feels like a dream. I took it slow, visiting the wonderful National Archaeological Museum with Marianna, whose knowledge of museums made it even more interesting. I also visited the Akropolis Museum with Marianna and her friend Alkistis. Alkistis is an archaeologist, and she made the incredible Akropolis Museum even more so.

I also got to see firsthand what incredible theft it is that the Brits remain with Elgin's Marbles. The marbles of the Parthenon on the Akropolis were pilfered by Lord Elgin in a shady deal he made with the Ottomans, just a couple of decades before Greece's independence. Britain's excuse for holding onto Greece's patrimony was justified for years by the fact that Greece did not have a proper museum to store the pieces. Such excuses don't hold true anymore, as the Akropolis Museum is world class. The exhibit on what remains of the marbles is heartbreaking when you see how much Britain has compared to what remains for Greece. Britain did an amiable job protecting these works of art, but the imperial age is through and these works belong back in their rightful home in Athens. Anything less is a travesty.

On the whole, I had an absolutely incredible and possibly life-changing time in Greece, and it was a period for me that I will never forget. I have a good feeling I will be back to Greece many more times in the future.

Monday, September 08, 2014

On progress

"Progress would be wonderful - if only it would stop."
 - Robert Musil

Monday, September 01, 2014


On the outskirts of the jungles of West Bengal, I awoke to the sounds of the pitterpatter of rain in the trees; it was all a mirage, the sky was clear and blue and it only the residue rains from the night's monsoon still trickling down the large leaves.

I spent the day dreaming of new windmills.

That evening, I became a goat-whisperer, as I shielded a kid from a pack of trouble-making dogs. I can only imagine what the local thought when they saw a white ghost carrying a black goat down the village road.

Across the wide monsoon skies, the sun set gold, peach and salmon pink over the green mid-harvest rice fields.

The night descended over West Bengal like a purple wine benediction, and the communion night was filled with the cricket symphony.

Saturday, August 30, 2014


In Dhaka, I have seen three ubiquitous flags: the Bangladesh flag (duh), and also the Brazilian and Argentine flags. A very stirring reminder of the power of football to connect the world.

Free lunch

Whoever said there is no such thing as a free lunch? My hotel staff in Dhaka was so impressed that I was unfazed by the rolling blackouts, and that when the hot water heater broke I simply asked for a bucket and some boiled water in the kettle to bathe in, that they treated me to a free lunch at the hotel's restaurant. Chicken Vindaloo never tastes so good as when it's free.

The King of Pop lives on

In one of the more surreal nights, I spent the evening on a radio station in Dhaka, Bangladesh that was doing a tribute to Michael Jackson for the King of Pop's birthday. 

The station had an awesome Bangladeshi band in studio doing soulful, acoustic renditions of the King of Pop's music; I was invited to discuss the upcoming Next Level program in Dhaka, cultural diplomacy through music and how music connects us. I called MJ the original musical ambassador.

The pièce de résistance was the whole studio singing along to "Heal the World." 

After the show concluded, we sat around the studio eating American-style Chinese food (Yes, apparently we have co-opted Chinese food) and drinking whiskey (still haven't been to a Muslim country where I couldn't get a drink) as we watched clips from the BMW Film Series. 

As it got late, I bade the party goodnight and wandered into the naked, dead streets of Dhaka. The seething, choked city was serenely peaceful in the still of the night. I wandered through the empty streets until I found a bicycle rickshaw to speed me home. As I was bargaining over the rickshaw, two ladies appeared. In chivalrous fashion, I offered it to the ladies--only to realize they were ladies of the night and wanted me (and my money) not the rickshaw. On that note, I hopped on the bike chariot and sped away.

I got stopped once at a police checkpoint, by some guards after backsheesh. They pointed out that the rickshaw did not have functioning tail lights (!). I laughed. They made the international sign to grease the palm. I laughed harder. I smiled and offered to bribe them with a clove. They laughed back. I gave them a salute and offered "khoda hafiz" (Go with God). They smiled, and sent me on empty-handed.

I returned to the hotel with the power out, and wrote this all in my journal by LED flash light.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Love Changes Everything

Love Changes Everything

Love changes everything.

Love makes black hair into a sea of raven ink.

Love makes brown eyes into a forest of mahogany. 

Love makes soft ivory skin into warm marble kissed by the sun.  

Love makes the soft caress of fingernails on my back into a thousand splendid shivers. 

Love changes everything.

-Eric Hayes


I saw the images from Ferguson yesterday while in a small market shop in Olympus, and I got so angry.  Tanks and riot police in the streets.  WHAT THE FUCK! I watched with my face buried in my palms.

Two articles that have made me alternately laugh and cry:

-How we'd cover Ferguson if it happened in another country

-The Onion's tips for being an unarmed black teen

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Athens Market; Akropolis

No sooner had I decided to stay put and made the proper Greek arrangements to do so, I was rewarded by stumbling upon an open-air market just a street below me.

Wandering through the market (Athens)

After meandering through the market, I caught the bus downtown to get some lunch and work done.  I stopped for an incredible kebab in Monastiraki, and sipped a katamba as I worked on projects.  Such is my vacation--working on the things that went by the wayside.

It was getting hot in the outdoor patio, so I departed for a fun little cafe to finish my work.

I met Marianna in Syntagma Square at the proper time (not 11am, not 12pm, but 4pm) and we hopped the subway to the Akropolis base.  We sat out chatting and sipping ouzo as we waited for her friend Chryssa to join us.  I explained to Marianna how the Targaryeans had built the Acropolis to honor their victory over the Andals.  I fed the sparrows and pigeons potato chips as we sat out in the afternoon heat.  Chryssa, an architect joined us for a coffee.  After Chryssa came, and we waited for the afternoon heat to break a bit, we headed on to the Akropolis.

Both Chryssa and Marianna were able to get in for free (student pass; architect courtesy), but I had to cough up 12 euros for the entry.  Not too bad, and the pass is good for 5 other sites around the city.  We began our climb up the mountain top.  Chryssa the architect was able to point out little structural differences and discuss the various styles on the site.

 We passed the Roman amphitheater, and the city began to open up below.  The climb did not take long, and I snapped a lot of pics on the ascent.  We quickly reached the summit of the City of the High Place.  The view was spectacular.  I wandered in and out of the ruins.

I crossed the gates into the summit with the ruins of the Parthenon, the temple to Athena on the top of the Akropolis.

Unfortunately, much of it was under renovation, but it was still pretty spectacular to see.  And the views across the city were magnificent.

I ducked behind a rope to get to a better section for some photos and got a scolding by a security guard.  Meh, I shrugged.

The best part was wandering over to the side of the walls where the winds came rushing up, and the sounds of the cicadas echoed off the marble walls.
We began our descent down to visit the Agora and Temple of Hephaestus.  The temple was well preserved and fascinating.   But after enough antiquity, we departed for a restaurant that had a phenomenal view of the Akropolis. 
 We sat out eating a wonderful mezze of pureed fava beans (Greek humus), tzatziki, zucchini fritters, grilled mushrooms and grilled haloumi.  We washed it down with cold beer as the restaurant blasted some great American blues music and the night enveloped the city.

Later we wandered through the area, and I climbed up on top of a fence post to get a pic of the incredible huge moon hanging over the lit Akropolis.  Unfortunately, I am a better climber than photographer because the shot was simply beyond my skills.  But I had fun anyway climbing to the top of the fence post and taking in the view.

We grabbed some delicious gelato for dessert, and sat out in a lil bar where we sipped rakimeli (hot honey brandy) and enomeli (hot spiced wine) as the music from the island of Crete bellowed out of the establishment.  The music was hauntingly beautiful and familiar like some Levant mournful cry, as Marianna and I discussed the Greek state of affairs and how difficult things had become.  As we headed back in a taxi, Fortuna shared her gift as the taxi driver was a Greek New Yorker whose fortuitous encounter helped bring peace to the evening.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Strolling around Athens for Free

After my Marathon day, I slept blissfully late.  I was going to slough off the day, but rallied in the afternoon after a nap to make my way down to the Athens Free Walking Tour.  I have done similar tours in Brussels and Bruges, it is a fun way to see the city and get a lot of info on the place I am in.  Basically, the tour is free but it is expected that you give the guide a tip.  Usually something between 5-10 euros depending on how good the tour was.

I met the tour at 5pm next to the Acropolis Museum.  On the tour was a smattering of nationalities including people from France, Singapore, Canada and Ireland. I was the only American, generally not a surprise.

We received a lil info about the tour and Greek history before we embarked down to ruin of the Temple of Zeus, of which construction was initially begun in the 6th century BC, but was not finally completed until the Roman period by Hadrian.  It was the largest temple in Greece during the Roman period, but by the 3rd century AD was sacked by Germanic barbarians.

 In front of the fallen colossus was Hadrian's arch, which opened up from below up to the Akropolis on high
 From there, we ventured on the Panathenaic Stadium, where the Pheidippides collapsed after his sprint across the plains of Marathon.  It was once where the Olympics took place.  Now it is where the Athens marathon ends, and also where the torch ceremony for the Olympics begins. 

We continued on to the Zappaeion, which was build by the Zappas brothers to hold the headquarters of the first modern Olympics.  It also played host to the fencing competition in the first modern Olympics.

From there, we wandered through the lovely public gardens of Athens and over to the Parliament (Factory of Corruption...) to see the soldiers standing guard.  The soldiers gave us their best rendition of Monty Python's silly walk as they strutted for the changing of the guard.

We passed back through Syntagma Square, as a protest for Kurdistan passed by.  We passed down to the Athens Basilica, with its beautiful blue marble.  Unfortunately, the church has been under construction for more than a decade after an earthquake so it did not make for good photo materials.

We then continued down to Monastaraki, a main plaza in Athens.  It was fascinating because there was an old Ottoman mosque in the foreground, following by Hadrian's library in the midground and the Acropolis in the background.

We ventured a little further uphill to get the last of the tour amidst the day's fading light.  I got a nice shot of the palace of justice just near Mars Rock, where the Apostle Pavlos preached to the Athenians to lil success at the time.  In the valley below, sat an old temple of Hepaestus, the God of the Smith.

On the whole, it was a great tour.  Well worth the price of admission (and the tip).  I learned a lot about Athens, and would recommend it for anyone visiting this fair city.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Staying Put in Athens

Last year, when I was on my sabbatical in Paris I planned to stay for a month in the city of lights and then go on the road through Belgium, Holland and Germany for the next month.  But something strange happened.  I loved Paris so much after a week that I couldn't bear the thought of leaving after a month.  I liked my little studio in the servants quarters, and the city surrounding it that brought so many questions to the fore, so I planted roots. I scrapped my peripatetic plans, and signed on for another month in fair Paris.

It was the right decision then, as my time in Paris was one of the most meaningful periods of my life.  I got to do the reading, writing and thinking that I had been craving, and I made a wonderful network of friends that became so dear to me.

Nearly a year later, the same phenomenon has happened.  I had planned on staying in Athens for approximate 10 days, then I was going to go backpacking around the islands.  But after so many days on the road, and finding my first place to call my own since Paris, I suddenly had the idea that I wanted to stay put.  The prospect of island-hopping in the high tourist season just didn't feel appealing, and I liked having my own small place to cook lentils, sip red wine and call my own as I adventured in Athens.

So for the second strange time, I have decided to stay put.  It is quite contrary to my itinerant nature, but it feels right.  So I am now spending a third week in Athens, and will venture out to the areas in Attica to do some exploring closer to home.


Sunday came, and I went to fetch my fixed jeans from the woman at the bakery.  At first, she wouldn't accept any money for it.  "I have sons," she said.  I collect mothers all around the world--of course I found a Greek mom.  But I wouldn't let her off the hook of accepting my thanks, and finally convinced her to take the 5 euros for her handy work.  She tried to force feed me spanikopita, but I escaped with just a boureka filled with cheese.

I headed over to the metro to catch it north to the suburbs to meet Marianna.  It took me a lil bit to find the station, whose tracks I could see but whose entry remained hidden.  I got to the station, but did not have change to buy a ticket and there was no open ticket shop.  I tried to get change at the kiosk outside but the guy was not willing to break my 20 euro note even with a purchase.  The train pulled in, and I decided to just hop it.  I tried to buy a ticket but it just wasn't working out.  

The train snaked north on elevated tracks, and I stared alternately out the window at the graffiti and in the car for a ticket checker.  I finally pulled into the station and booked it out of the car and station, lest I get hit with a fine for train-hopping (like in Paris, when I did buy the mo-fo ticket!). I left the station, and as I was taking the escalator down, I happen to see a ticket checker heading the opposite direction.  I think I turned white.

Marianna snagged me at the metro, and we headed out to pick up her friend Costa, who had 4 small cats with him to transport to his parents place in Marathon.  We drove across the suburban Athens landscape, which continues to remind me of Southern California for its architecture and landscape.  The cats were not happy with the ride and meowed something fierce the whole journey.  

We arrived to Marathon, dropped the cats and headed to the Temulus of Marathon.  We visited the monument to the great battlefield at Marathon.  I read through the description of the day and battle, and got chills looking out into the desiccated grounds spotted with  brown eucalyptus trees.

Marathon was pivotal in that it stopped the first Persian advance into Greece, and proved that the insurmountable juggernaut of the Persian Army could indeed be checked with the right strategy and tactics. But I had to laugh a lil at the perspective descriptions of the significance, bellowing that the victory was one of Greek Democracy over Persian Despotism.  I explained to my Greek friends that while yes perhaps it was indeed a victory for such things, under the Persian Empire, the Jews fared far better and had far more tolerance of religion than when the Greeks subsequently came to rule.

We walked through the hallowed ground to a giant mound that bore the graves of countless Greek soldiers, and I simply listened to the dry winds rustle the leaves of the trees.

So, when Persia was dust, all cried, "To Acropolis! 
Run, Pheidippides, one race more! the meed is thy due! 
Athens is saved, thank Pan, go shout!" He flung down his shield 
Ran like fire once more: and the space 'twixt the fennel-field 
And Athens was stubble again, a field which a fire runs through, 
Till in he broke: "Rejoice, we conquer!" Like wine through clay, 
Joy in his blood bursting his heart, - the bliss! 

Νενικήκαμεν, we are victorious

We circled back to a giant dam to have coffee over the beautiful lake.  The verdant landscape ringed the blue lagoon.  We sipped coffee as we watched a helicopter swoop in to take water to put out a brush fire.

Afterwards, we went for lunch on the sea for a wonderful meal of lil fried fish covered in lemon juice; sauteed greens; garlic tzatziki; lil sardines swimming in oil and garlic, and crusty Greek bread to sop the oil; french fries to mop the tzatziki.  We sipped white wine and threw the leftover lil fishies to the stray cats.  The cats had absolutely no interest in the garlic fish. 

From the Euboean Gulf off the Bay of Marathon, we spent the evening on the beach watching the grand luminous moon rise and the stars shoot across the wine-dark skies.

As I previously mentioned, Greece reminds me of Southern California, and no much more so than on the beach.  The landscape reminded me so much of SoCal beaches, and it added to the feeling when a nearby group of beachgoers started blasting Sublime.

In the wine-dark seas, I went for a swim in the waters that once anchored the Persian navy set to sack Greece.  In the warm waters, I swam in solitude, listening to the waves crash softly on the sandy shore.

As befitting any good Greek story, we ended the night over 2am gyros and a pitcher Greek wine.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Pallas Athena

On a warm Saturday, I meandered about.  I tried to get some jeans with a hole sewn up at the laundry place I went the day prior but they didn't provide such services.  I walked a lil further on to the bakery where I received the fritter prezent the day prior to get some kafa hellinco.  I chatted in broken English with the lovely woman and her husband, and we discussed a Greek-English lesson exchange.  It dawned on me that this woman could probably sew so I showed her the jeans with a hole.  She promptly brought me a needle and thread and sat me down to sew it.  I explained that I would rather pay her to do it, and get it done right.

I dallied a bit in my apartment, then headed down to Syntagma Square to meet Marianna--a friend of my friend Justin who convinced me to go to Greece in the first place.  I arrived a lil before noon to meet her in the middle of the square in the fountain.  About ten minutes passed, when I had the sinking feeling that I was supposed to meet her at 11am, not noon.  I had no Geek SIM card for my phone, and no way to get on the internet to check but I was pretty sure I was off an hour.  I was about to go find an internet cafe to profusely apologize when I saw a girl on her i-phone.  I debated going over to ask if I could use her i-phone for a second, when she came over to me.  She recognized the Gandhi t-shirt I said I would be wearing.  It was indeed Marianna, and i was indeed an hour off.  I was amazed she had waited, but she simply figured I got confused.  I promised to make it up to her over coffee.

We headed down from the square through the pedestrian streets and over to where I caught my first glimpse of the Acropolis on high.

We wandered through the hills of Athens, through picturesque old neighborhoods before the midday heat became too much and we stopped at a cute taverna for coffee.  The Geeks drink a wonderful iced coffee called Cappuccino Freddo, which is iced espresso with a rich milky froth on top.  We sat under the canopy chatting about life in Greece, New York (where she had studied) and life on the road, and all sorts of movies, literature and myths as we sipped refreashing gin-and-tonics.  As the afternoon dragged on, we got a tad peckish and ordered a veritable feast of Greek dishes for lunch. 
We had an amazingly wonderful Greek feast on a lazy Athens Saturday.  Crete Salad of onions, cucumbers, tomatoes and feta on a rusk; fried cheese covered in fresh lemon juice; spanikopita. To follow, Greek yogurt covered in honey and crushed walnuts and pistachios; sweet black Greek coffee and a glass of milky white ouzo.
After the long day's journey into afternoon, we finally set back out and went walking through the quiet city.  Like Paris, Athens is empty in August as all the Athenians have taken their vacay and fled for the islas.  Many shops lay closed, even more so since it was sunday.

Along the way, I spied a monument that struck me as interesting. Only after, did Marianna explain to me its significance:  it was to mark the horrendous crime that was the population transfer between Greece and Turkey.  The idea was to transfer Greek Christians living in Turkey to Greece, and Turkish Muslims living in Greece to Turkey.  Good idea in theory, but the reality was the transfer of Greek Muslims to Turkey, and Turkish Christians to Greece--neither of whom had any cultural or linguistic connections to the larger community, merely the same faith.  It was a horrible action in practice, with who communities uprooted into years of dispossession.

But i digress.  We continued meandering through the empty city until we found the wonderful hipster-ish bar 6 Dogs with its huge outdoor patio.  We sat out until late under the hanging lamps, chatting and sipping weisbeer.