Welcome to Greece
Not that we weren’t really in Greece when we were in Crete, but the mainland of Greece is a whole different beast. We have been in and around Athens for the past two weeks. It’s huge! Close to 4 million people live here. The streets of Athens are narrow, eight-story hallways of apartment building after apartment building. Since most of our t ravel has been by foot, bus or subway we had a hard time finding our bearings in the city until we climbed Lykavittos Hill to the east of the Acropolis. From there we could see nothing but city in every direction, all the way to the mountains on three sides and the Aegean on the fourth. The sameness of the urban sprawl is broken up by the random hilltops that pop up here and there throughout the city -the Acropolis being the most famous of these of course. Interspersed along the apartmented arteries of Athens are coffee shops, small grocery stores, designer clothiers, auto dealers (Smart cars rock!), corner magazine stands, sleazy nightclubs and Greek Orthodox churches. The Acropolis and numerous ruins intermix with the modernity of this place. It is a city that seems to only sleep in the mid-afternoons with much activity taking place between the hours of 7:00 pm and 4:00 am (pretty much the same hours our kids sleep!). Busses and subways are always full. And you're not really looking Greek unless you are wearing a black jacket, tight jeans and black shoes. If you’re female it appears that you also need to have either bleached blond or black died stylishly coiffed hair. No man is complete without a komboloi (worry beads that look like a rosary) whipping about in his hand. It is a great place to sit back and watch people go about their daily life. Which is pretty much what everybody does each afternoon with a strong cup of Greek coffee (Turkish coffee that the Greeks claim they came up with first). It’s an envious lifestyle.