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.

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