27 September 2005

departures and the longest day

my phone alarm worked flawlessly. at 17:15 seattle time – 04:15 local – it started ringing, a sound certain to snap me awake. certainly we could have saved ourselves €100 by simply staying at the airport, but i was thankful for the hot shower. we got our taxi and headed out – it was a 45 minute drive and went by quickly as we passed the now-familiar landmarks of athens. the driver was quick, efficient, and rutheless, and his efforts were aided by the nearly-empty streets. the price for this luxury? €45 plus a €5 tip. we wouldn’t be needing those euros anymore anyhow, right?

flying was flying, we went through security screening checkpoints in every airport we visited. frankfurt has poorly designed bathrooms. dulles made me wait in a line for an hour to get my ticket and then i had to pass through homeland security screening. and in general the movies sucked – until we got on the plane home where we lay back and were the only people on board laughing out loud at kicking and screaming.

twenty four hours of travel later we arrived in seattle, with clear but cool skies and stories to share.

26 September 2005

national museum

we got up early this morning and found the rental agency with surprisingly little trouble. it was so close in fact that we decided to walk back to the museum. we were quite glad we hadn’t done all the driving last night to return it to the airport. when we arrived at the museum we discovered that it opens at 13:00 on mondays, so we felt a little cheated for having gotten up early. back to the hotel for us then, we took this opportunity to again check the internet and watch some CNN. i also went by a computer store and got a charger for my ipod and phone so i’d be sure to have my electronic devices fully charged for the flight back.

after a bit of dawdling and some snacks, we returned to the national museum to pace through it’s many halls. we spent four hours going through it and finally seeing in one place all the greatest treasures and stories of the sites we’d been visiting over the past two weeks. the effect was a bit overwhelming, and it was hard to stay focused. i gave the immense pottery collection a particularly cursory overview. i can’t really say i am all about pots. we had seen reproductions of several of the finest friezes and statues elsewhere, but there were a number of unique pieces that were awe-inspiring, particularly in the statuary and roman sections.

after four hours of walking around the museum i was throughly exhausted, and welcomed a brief nap when we returned to the hotel. we went out again and on the athens guide’s recommendation found a delicious taverna only a few blocks away. we ordered our favorites and sat back and enjoyed ourselves. at the end of the meal katharine wanted ouzo, so of course we had to order some.

the 20cl bottle prominently displayed “46%”, but you could tell it was strong from the alcohol odor itself. in fact, the only thing stronger than the alcohol odor is that of black licorice, as ouzo is flavored with anise. of course katharine and martin did no research as to what ouzo was like, and as they hate black licorice it was soon clear who the task of consuming the bottle was going to be incumbent upon. i poured them glasses anyway, dropped in the ice cubes and watched as the liquid turned a milky white. then, drink! the taste is as you’d expect a combination of cold vodka and black licorice, not altogether unpleasant from my point of view. the strength though was definitely noticeable, and i refrained from finishing the bottle and instead brought the remainder home with me.

anyone interested in a taste of greece?

25 September 2005

one last day in the accent

our last big driving day. kalabaka was mostly dead on sabbato morning, but we managed to find breakfast of yogurt and tost, check out, and head south by noon. with only a few detours getting throug athens we made it all the way to sounio, the southernmost tip of the attic peninsula. for what felt like the hundredth time we hiked up to see a bunch of pillars and tourists, but once again it was well worth it. the temple of poseidon is a beautiful structure and the location with the mediterranean behind it is perfect. we took some photos and grabbed overpriced sandwiches from a nearby vendor and left without waiting for the sunset since we needed to make it back to athens.

we headed north into athens and the traffic and navigation was just as horrible as we had expected. we did eventually find the exarchion hotel, park our car, and get settled for our last day. after a drawn out debate about whether we should drive to the airport and return the car tonight or in the morning we settled on our hunger and let the car sit while we sought out food. cheap gyros and expensive crepes fed us well, and while katharine and martin took advantage of the free internet at our hotel i went and scouted out a seat in the nearby bar to watch greece in the eurobasket 2005 championship game against germany. they won handily and though the tv later showed photos of celebrations and fireworks we didn’t really see or hear any of it.

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