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.
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.
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.