Monday, May 27, 2013

Athens... days 2 and 3

I know we should have made a point of visiting all the museums and ancient historical sites in Athens.  I think by the time we got to Athens, we were just really exhausted by all we had seen in two weeks.  Vacations are supposed to be about relaxing, though, and we're not at all like Clark W. Griswold when we take trips.  We really enjoy just being together, so that's pretty much what we do when we go on trips.  If we feel moved to go to a museum, we go.  If we don't, we don't.  I like to people watch when I travel.  I can get just as much out of sitting on a park bench watching people interact as I can moving from exhibit to exhibit in a museum.

On our second day in Athens, we did actually look at a few of the ancient sites... the ones that didn't involve hill climbing, anyway.  We also saw some very entertaining street performers.  There was one guy playing jazz saxophone and several young guys dancing on a street corner.  We saw yet another one of those performers in heavy costume, sitting as still as a statue.  The statue performers don't interest me that much, with the exception of the guys who do the invisible man acts.  But after you've seen a couple of those guys, even they become less interesting.  I do wonder how they can stand being so still, especially when it's hot outside.




Dancers near the Acropolis...




Ancient stuff...
Eating

We stopped at lunch at one place and I had an unfortunate vantage point of seeing the woman behind the counter who was preparing the food.  I noticed she picked up fries with her hand and caught her eating behind the counter.  When my gyros arrived at barely room temperature, I got kind of nervous and remembered all the food handlers' courses I had to take when I was working in restaurants.  Then I remembered the epidemiology course I took when I was studying public health.  It occurred to me how much it would suck to have food poisoning while on the plane back to the States, so I ate very sparingly and hoped for the best.  Luckily, I didn't get sick.  ;-)  The rest of the afternoon, we wandered more around the city, running the gauntlet of aggressive restaurant hawkers looking for customers.



View of the Acropolis from the Peacock Restaurant and a juicy steak!

Later that evening, we had dinner at the hotel's Peacock restaurant, which offers a great view of the Acropolis.  The food was very good and plenty hot, but I got just as big of a kick from the hilarious bartender, who was cracking jokes the whole time.  I had the opportunity to play with my camera's settings and got some interesting shots of the sunset.

Scamming

On day three, I got accosted by an old Romanian woman who was trying to force me to take some roses from her.  When I declined to take them, she insisted, telling me they were free.  When that didn't work, she said I looked like Angelina Jolie.  Talk about ridiculous.  I finally shouted "No!" and moved away from her.  I later found out about a common scam some people do in European cities in which they try to give you something, telling you it's "free".  Then, when you do take whatever it is they're offering, they claim you robbed them and demand money.  No thanks.

Kidding

Day three is also when we picked up most of our souvenirs.  I usually like to buy a mug and a magnet when I go places.  I'm running out of room for the mugs, but my refrigerator still has plenty of room for more magnets.  I went into one very touristy shop when the proprietor beckoned me inside.  I found a couple of magnets as well as some very pretty tiles.  As we were paying, the proprietor joked about the price, giving us a much higher price than what we actually owed.  Then he laughed at my suddenly shocked expression.  It was at that point that I noticed that some Greeks apparently like to kid a lot, especially when money is involved.  That kidding happened several times when we were in Athens.

Haggling

Another thing I noticed is that Greeks like to haggle.  But when we bought stuff, they haggled against themselves.  For instance, when I bought my blue opal and silver necklace, the lady named a price, then immediately lowered it by about ten percent.  I never said a word about the cost... I just hesitated slightly.  The same thing happened when we bought art in Athens.  I spotted a really interesting painting and expressed interest in it.  The shopkeeper priced the painting at 85 euros, then immediately lowered the price to 75 euros.  When I liked another painting, he priced it by itself at 250 euros, but then ended up giving me the first painting and the second for a total of 230 euros.  They are keen to cut a deal, but they don't seem to ask tourists to haggle...  they do it for you!

We did sort of get scammed... but not in a really bad way.  On our last full day in Athens, we were lured into an outdoor cafe.  I was looking at the dorada, which is a tasty but expensive fish prepared in Greece.  I was also looking at more pedestrian menu choices.  The proprietor came over and took the menus from us before I had actually made up my mind, basically deciding for me that I wanted fish.  Bill was also looking at something cheaper, but the guy offered him lamb.  He thought he had decided on lamb, but it turned out the proprietor ordered fish for him too.  So we both had expensive fish for lunch... and lunch took about two-and-a-half hours!  


Yummy fava and salad...


The fabulous fish we were tricked into ordering...


Bill tries to figure out the bill written in Greek...

That night, we came back to the hotel and I heard Kate Bush playing over the sound system.  I'm a big fan of Kate Bush's music and mentioned it.  The desk clerk and I shared a moment over that, since she was also a fan.  I'm always excited when I run into someone who likes Kate Bush... she can be kind of an acquired taste for some people.




Cats!







The sun was setting as I took this with my new camera.


I think I would have enjoyed this museum...






Crazy graffiti! 



Greek street music!





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