John: Enter Stage Left

Thursday, September 08, 2005

John arrives in Greece, see sites
I left from Thessaloniki on Sept 3, having walked around, seen the white tower, got my cellphone's internet capabilities to work, and come up empty handed on finding Loukoumathes. Really, they're hard to find. The train ride from Thessaloniki to Athens is quite beautiful, and my new book, The Assassini, similar in style to Dan Brown's writings but written over 10 years, was constantly put on hold so I could enjoy the views. In my first act of cell phone usefulness, I managed to secure myself a spot at Athens Backpackers that night, a hostel about which I'd heard only good things, and indeed it was quite nice. It's right in Plaka, under the Acropolis, and has a rooftop bar with cheap drinks where you can sit and chat until 11 or so before going out. I met some cool people the first night and went out with them down the street.

The Acropolis
The next day, I went to the airport to get John. I had planned this not realizing that even on the metro it's about an hour to get there and also 6 Euro each way. On top of that, the plan was that if we didn't meet up at the gate, we'd meet in front of the Enterprise office in the airport. They, however, don't HAVE an Enterprise office in the airport. Luckily, even though I waited for a long time at the gate and was contemplating the dreaded airport-page and thinking I'd missed him, he did walk out. Though I almost didn't recognize him anyway, what with all that facial hair he'd taken to calling a 'beard'. I can get away with saying this because he's still asleep as I write this.

Silver Lager is enjoyed all over the world
We did some sightseeing in Athens, saw the Acropolis (again) which is ever changing, walked to the old parthenon below, the Temple of Apollo, searched (again) for Loukoumathes, and through the markets. Then we grabbed some dinner and hung out on the roof of the hostel again, where we met even more cool Aussies (there is no end to the coolness of people from this continent/country). Better still, my parents had sent John with, among other things (enough Dentyne to glue all of Manhattan to the sidewalks, some awesome but clothes from my sisters, etc), some nice Specklebelly's Pale Ale and Silver. We saved the Pale Ale for my family in Tripolis but brought out the Silver and celebrated my birthday properly. Good times! Not to mention a few promotional shots of Silver being enjoyed under the Acropolis.

Little Maria is now Less-Little Maria
The next day, we came by bus to Tripolis and Kelly and Lee met us at the bus station (brand new, by the way) where, after a taxi ride, we met up with everyone. It's so great to see them again! Maria and Kosta have really grown up, and Theodore looks like a slightly taller version of himself (same old Theodore, otherwise). Niki took about a day to get used to seeing with blond hair as well. We spent the day just chatting and catching up, and when I brought up our fruitless attempts at finding Loukoumathes, and after Diane had disappeared for a bit, Kosta came up to tell us that she'd actually gone and made up a bunch. These cousins of mine are out of control! I should mention they were delicious, made with some of George's brother's honey, and she even had cinnamon to sprinkle. This was AFTER they'd run out to get me a birthday cake and sing happy birthday, mind you, not to mention that she made cake and cookies for the next morning.

Bunnies for Mariah
We checked out the horio (village) the next day, and spent some time with Uncle Ted, Aunt Marina, Maria, and her two (!) new children. Stephania is a bus-loving crazy nut, and completely blonde for the moment, though that's sure to change. She's very tall for only being 2 and also seems quite smart. Or maybe the word is crafty. The newest arrival, as yet unnamed, is tiny, given that she's not even two weeks old yet. How things can change in only 4 years (last time I was here, Maria & Kosta had just gotten married right before I left). Uncle Ted took us up the hill to look over the village, and then on the way down past their old school, John & I stopped at the caffeneio and had some nice cacao. Even the hot chocolate man in Finland can't top this stuff, really, it's that good. I ran into a few older guys I remembered from last time, like John, and also the woman who runs the caffeneio. Also, on the bus to the horio, we sat beside another distant relative, Lygeri, who knew me but I didn't know/remember her. Oops! Oh, and as for the picture, my uncle has a LOT of bunnies and so that's just for Mariah.

Hooray for Caves!
Finally, that night we rented a car for four days, and spent the next day travelling the looong way down to Kalamata and the Caves of Diros before coming back home on the other side of the finger, stopping for a nice meal and a swim in Gythio before heading back to Tripolis. We went out with the girls for Greek night, sitting in a lounge and then taking off for one of the clubs. I think John was secretly relieved we didn't stay long enough for them to start playing Zambetiko music, but who knows.

Today, we're off for a two day trek across the Pelops, up to Sterea Ellatha to Delphi, and then back down to Nauplion, stopping at Milous for what is probably the best souvlaki in the world, and then returning our rental car and heading for the islands (with that one last night in Tripolis with the girls - there's some sort of party going on and they don't have to work on Sunday, so it should be fun). But, we should get going. John just woke up and we have a lot of driving ahead of us.

<Athens/Tripolis Photos>
<Cave Trip Photos>

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