5.26.09 Athens, Greece!

Athens Travel Blog

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Driving to Athens- where is that campground? Do you see a sign?

5.26.09 Athens!

 

Lord helped us!  We made it to the campground in Athens.  The stress to get here has us recovering now. 

 

There’s no access to the campground from the busy road from the west.

The Parthenon at the Acropolis
  It didn’t matter because we never saw any campground signs from that direction anyway.  Shoot, there must have been 1000 signs along the road with about 4 lanes in each direction. 

 

Jazy gasped as she saw a near accident and the subsequent screaming at each other that occurred thereafter.  The drivers are, putting it nicely, crazy here and as we progressed further into central Athens, my nerves were raw.  At lights, they just come up all around you, cutting U-turns in front, motorcycles zooming around like kamikaze drivers.

 

But we managed to exit the highway and U-turn under the highway, returning to stay on the laterals.  From the east are a couple campground signs (the blue pictorial ones).

Athena's Sandals wonderful owner
  Thank goodness for GPS coordinates from the Church’s into Camping Athena!

 

We left early, by 9am from our Nafplion campground (more near Toro, actually).  In hindsight, it was not worth the drive past Argos to select that particular campground for just the night, but we got to see more of Greece, and that is our goal.  But it did take about 45 minutes to wiggle through the small towns and traffic in Nafplion to make it to the nice E65 highway to Athens.

 

We’re timing our visit to the Parthenon.  We’ll take the bus into town before rush hour, visit in the evening, have some Greek food, and return at cool night.

Waiter at Greek dinner
  Then tomorrow we’ll head for the ferry to Venice, I think.

 

It is a 34 hour ferry ride that goes just Monday, Weds, Friday, and Saturdays, so tomorrow being Weds would be a good time to head out.

 

There is a huge Man chassis RV beside us and we wonder how it manages with low bridges.  Surely they have a book that tells the roads they cannot traverse.  It must be 14’ tall!

 

 More later after our Athens Adventure!

 

*******

 

We did some of Athens!  It was great!

First the Acropolis, then quality time with several neat Athenians, then back to the Campground.

Athens metro station with Acropolis pieces
  No public transportation serious faux pas either!  Wow! (OK, we did  walk past our stop and then take the bus one stop to the terminus, had bus driver escort to the first bus, and pushed the button one stop too early, but nothing SERIOUS!).

 

Late afternoon at the Acropolis was really incredible.  We were spellbound by the enormous monuments and the history.  (12E only for me, the adult, kids free).  Pictures will speak more.  Hot, but most of the tourists were gone, so it was great.

We wandered the touristy Plaka area then, but twisted down a side road and found a most delightful leather-products store called Olgianna Melissinos, Athena’s Handmade Sandals.  We bought a gift for a certain relative, no names, who is graduating, hoping she enjoys the selection from a delightful, old-ways, handcrafted shop.  The husband was whacking on a leather shoe with a hammer while we were there. 

The owner wonderful and we had the best time talking with her.  This personal interaction made our visit very special.  We talked about baby baptisms and how surnames are kept by women and then the children usually have both parent’s surnames as their surnames.

Waiter at Greek dinner
  We talked about the patriacial society where the matriarchs are really in charge and how that works.  She helped us choose a real Greek restaurant where they like to eat. 

It was a great time- oh!  And we bought some really special leather products!  Jazy got a wallet, Lia and I got little purses, and Charles a belt, all of which were practical in that they were badly needed. 

We read an article on the wall of the Owner’s Father (and Grandfather before him) had run the store and how Jackie O, Sophia Loren, the Beattles, and other famous people came there to shop.  We marveled that we’d found such a famous little store on our own luck.  Her Father, Stavros Melissinos, is also a poet, and Olgianna kindly included some English-translated copies of his poems for us.  So nice!

Store info:

Then we tripped on down the road to Psiri neighborhood and sought the Tavern of Psiri, which as Olgianna said, has signs only in Greek.  This was good- if the menu is only in Greek, then that is where the Greeks eat.  And that is what we want- no tourist traps. 

Well, we sought direction once in the neighborhood and then thought we’d found it, but I think we didn’t.

No worries!  We found a most delightful restaurant where the kind waiter (who spoke English) took our order and then he declared, “That is too much food!”  I was taken aback.  “It is?  What should I order?” I asked.  “Oh,” he said, “you would like only two of the gyro plates, one pork and one chicken, then maybe a Greek salad to share with the kids, and tzaztiki with bread to dip.”  To which I, of course, said, “Yes, yes!  Whatever you think!  And some wine!”  So our delightful waiter ordered the perfect amount of food for us.  Then we spent an enjoyable time conversing with him afterward.

Delicious Greek dinner that our waiter ordered for us
 

Apparently every night at 8:30 or 9pm, every table is full and it is extremely busy, but at 6pm the place was very quiet and we had a great time talking about world politics, traveling, school in Greece, etc.  Many of the waiters, who didn’t yet have customers, joined in and it was a grand time until the sun was setting and we had to move onward.

We decided to walk, rather than take the very nice and modern metro (as we took on the way to the Akropolis).  It was a pretty evening. 

Athens is loud and dusty.  There are many people out and the energy level is high.  Most of the people are not concerned with being fashionable and I saw very few outward signs of wealth displayed.  It is a very real city and we enjoyed visiting it. 

The bus, by the way, was pleasantly air conditioned and a joy to ride.  The metro station is modern, has LED signs counting down the minutes to the next train’s arrival, and is very fast.  The stations are cleaned, patrolled by a police officer, and have artifacts from the Akropolis on brilliant display.

And I mean it! (What'd that say?)
  Quite impressive public transportation! 

On the bus ride home, I had a profound moment:

Just before he got off, the nice guy beside me helped me out regarding our camping stop, then he asked where we are from.  America?” he asked.  “I’m from Iraq.”  Wow.  I wished for time to ask him what he thought of Americans, if we were helpers or invaders, how things are really going in Iraq.  Here I was in the middle of Athens, Greece, an American meeting an Iraqi.  Human to human.    

 

 

 

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Driving to Athens- where is that c…
Driving to Athens- where is that …
The Parthenon at the Acropolis
The Parthenon at the Acropolis
Athenas Sandals wonderful owner
Athena's Sandals wonderful owner
Waiter at Greek dinner
Waiter at Greek dinner
Athens metro station with Acropoli…
Athens metro station with Acropol…
Waiter at Greek dinner
Waiter at Greek dinner
Athenas Sandals
Athena's Sandals
Delicious Greek dinner that our wa…
Delicious Greek dinner that our w…
And I mean it!
(Whatd that say?)
And I mean it! (What'd that say?)
Athens from the Acropolis
Athens from the Acropolis
Lovely Greece
Lovely Greece
Driving to Athens
Driving to Athens
Athens from the Acropolis
Athens from the Acropolis
South entrance to the Acropolis
South entrance to the Acropolis
The Parthenon at the Acropolis
The Parthenon at the Acropolis
UNESCO sign
UNESCO sign
Athens from the Acropolis
Athens from the Acropolis
Athens market
Athens market
Article at Athenas Sandals in Ath…
Article at Athena's Sandals in At…
Athenas Sandals
Athena's Sandals
Dinner alfresco
Dinner alfresco
Delicious Greek dinner
Delicious Greek dinner
Delicious Greek dinner
Delicious Greek dinner
Lovely Greece
Lovely Greece
Hilltop castle
Hilltop castle
Hilltop castle
Hilltop castle
The Man chassis RV parked beside us
The Man chassis RV parked beside us
Athens
photo by: Johnpro