This is not a travelogue per se, but the unedited emails I sent home using a Blackberry to friends and family while I was away.
Thursday, November 9, 2006
My only full day in Athens.
I woke up early and went down for breakfast. Big selection. The St. Theresa group should be happy.
I went straight to the Acropolis. Wow! What a climb. Near the entrance is the Ancient Agora. This is where Socrates, Plato, and even St. Paul would come to hang out and talk to people.
Just outside there’s a huge rock you can climb that overlooks the Agora with the Parthenon at your back.
I went up there and had my second breakfast. Yes, I’m a Hobbit. I stayed for longer than I had planned. I was just taking in the scene imagining what it must have been like in Plato’s day in 400 BC.
As I started to leave an American tour group came up. I tried to eavesdrop on their guide but it didn’t seem anyone was with them. -I do that a lot. It helps to pick things up that are not in the guidebooks.
They had a priest with them. So I thought about sliding him my card. Only I left it at the hotel.
I’ve had it with me every other day. But I packed light for the climb.
The priest was talking about his shoes or something so I walked by to check them out. I do like shoes. He was posing for a picture with some people in his group and said something about the shot.
Hey I know that voice!
It was Fr. Hickey.
We talked for about 10 minutes. We both thought it was funny to run into each other in Athens. He was with a group of 48 from Atlanta.
They just arrived yesterday and are leaving for a cruise tomorrow.
I told him what I do. He remembered getting the info I sent him months ago.
He wants to go to Rome for Lent and asked me to contact him when we are both back. So I may have another trip.
I need to learn Italian. Everyone wants to go to Italy.
We ran into each other a few more times.
Oh and I asked. He does know Bono and they’ve hung out a few times in Atlanta. Bono did not come to visit him in Douglasville. He said Fr. (Maybe Msgr. ?) Kenny is better friends with Bono.
The Parthenon is amazing. Much of it is under renovation, and probably will be for many years. I couldn’t get as close as the Pope to recreate his picture. Maybe when the group is here.
I came back down and went to my room to get my cards.
Then lunch. This time kebab. Lamb and beef. I visited the Orthodox Cathedral. Nice icons. And found the churchy street with all your church needs.
I found a really nice icon shop. All hand-painted on old wood with 14, 18, and 24 karat gold. They also had the ones inlaid with silver and gold. Way too much for me.
I went back to the room to change shirts. It’s nice having a room in the heart of everything.
End of part 1.
My battery is about to die.
I’ll try to charge it but I don’t think I’ll be able to until London.
Thursday, November 9, 2006
Today was one of those days where it’s really cold in the shade and really hot in the sun.
I went to check on a flight for the group from Athens to Santorini. I went to 2 airlines. Both group departments were closed until tomorrow.
I wanted to go to Mass but had an hour. So I went into a big department store. It was really ‘high class’ with Prada, Burberry and the like. They even had a personal shopper floor.
The church was across the street and I got there right when they opened.
It’s a nice place. I do wish more of the Orthodox churches were Catholic. There are so many tiny churches scattered around. And they are beautiful.
Mass was in Greek, of course. They do have Mass in Latin and in English on Sundays.
I couldn’t understand the Greek at all. Only a few Greek words and phrases I’ve picked up.
But the sung Mass parts were the same as back home.
After Mass I spoke with the priest. He was great. He’s English. Just moved to Athens. I don’t know the story as to how he came to this parish from London. I spoke with him about the group. He gave me the fax number and the pastor’s name. This guy is the vicar.
Then I went to a bookstore across the street (next to the department store). The workers were all smoking. I thought that was interesting. They were sitting at the counter ringing people up and smoking. And this wasn’t some tiny mom and pop store. It was 7 floors. Bigger than Borders. Very nice. That’s just the culture here. It was funny seeing the lady working the children’s floor smoking at the desk. Funny strange. Not really a laugh out loud funny.
Then my phone battery died.
I knew I would not be able to charge it because my adapter doesn’t fit. It works. It just doesn’t fit in the socket because the Greece outlets sit deep in the wall. Where as the rest of Europe they sit flush with the wall.
I knew I could not live without my phone so I sat out in search of a new adapter.
I found it at that fancy department store.
The person who checked me out looked just like jennifer anniston. I lot of girls do. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t her.
Something happened earlier that I didn’t think much of until it happened again.
An older guy came up to me and asked me something in Greek. I usually ignore these people because there are so many people trying to get my money and I really don’t want what they are selling. That and the guys with their fake Prada purses. Anyway he was old and looked innocent enough. When he saw that I did not understand he asked in English for the time.
Then he said ‘you look greek.’ Umm, no I don’t. I’m pale white with light brown hair. I look pretty much American. He chatted for a minute. Then tried to get me to come to his bar for a free coffee. I said I had somewhere to be. Which was true. And said maybe later.
So it happened again tonight. Since I thought nothing of it the first time I fell for it again. When he said I looked greek I knew it was a scam. Maybe not so much a scam as a way to get me into the bar. This guy wanted to ‘give’ me a beer. I played nice and said I had somewhere to be. Not as true as the first time.
I walked around and did some shopping.
I got my McDonald’s fries.
Later another guy stopped me. Instead of ‘what time is it’ his line was ‘hey you’. I kept walking then there was a little people traffic and he caught up. He asked what I was looking for. I told him I was going back to my hotel. He asked in I wanted a pretty girl or a pretty boy. I quickly walked away.
Then I got back to the room and packed.
Tomorrow I go to the port to see the boat. Meet with the hotel manager. Try to find plane tickets. Then fly to London.
Goodnight. Love you.