Saturday, September 1: I continue on the Athens Open Tour after I finish walking all around the Acropolis and its slopes. We pass the Temple of Zeus, Hadrian’s Arch, Parliament and the National Gardens, Syntagma Square, the Bernaki Museum, the Presidential Residence, the Panathenaic Stadium, the National Library, Omonia Square, the National Archeological Museum, and Karaiskaki Square. I’m intrigued by the street scenes I see along the way. As we drive past all these places, I take pictures, not really knowing always what is what. Here are a few scenes from the open air top of the bus.
Finally at Thession, I disembark so I can walk down the main central shopping street: Ermou. I intend to buy some clothes just in case my suitcase doesn’t arrive, since I am leaving for Crete tomorrow. I have continued to check my phone in case I’ve missed a call from Egypt Air, but there is nothing. I start at the traditional Monastiraki Flea Market, a festive place with permanent antiques, furniture, collectibles, jewelry, handicrafts and bric-a-brac.
After passing through the flea market area, I walk along the pedestrian section of Ermou with its eclectic mix of stores and shopping strips. Here I come across some modern-day clothing stores. Here, I pop in and out and start a buying spree. First stop, I buy two tank tops and two pairs of shorts. As I continue in and out of stores, I end up buying a number of tops, two pairs of pants, three pairs of shorts, underwear, and pajamas. After all is said and done, I have spent 262 euros (or $341)!!! Each time before I make a purchase, I check my phone to see if Egypt Air has called about my bag, but there is never any missed call or any message. I figure as soon as they let me know they have found my bag, I will stop purchasing stuff and head back to the hotel.
My bag of stuff is quite heavy, and by now I am hot, tired and irritable, so I stop at a little cafe to grab a drink and a bite to eat. I’m disappointed because not only have I had to spend a lot of money that I hadn’t budgeted, but I don’t even really like the stuff I bought. I just bought something, anything to wear, period. Not my style, but at least they are clean clothes! At the cafe, I end up getting a spinach pie and a lemonade.
After eating the delicious spinach pie and being refreshed by the lemonade, I walk the rest of the way to Syntagma Square, where I catch the Hop On Hop Off bus again. This particular stop is the end/beginning of the line, so the bus sits here for some time. As I sit at the top, I check my phone again. Still not a word about my bag. 😦
Then I notice a lot of police activity down below, with police blocking off one of the streets. Word is from some people on the bus that a neo-Nazi demonstration is due to occur in an hour or so. Later I read in an online publication called Contra Info that the demonstration was more AGAINST neo-Nazis. According to Contra Info‘s story, Athens: Brief summary of the antifascist demo on September 1st: Around 2,500 people attended an antifascist demo in Athens last Saturday, September 1st. The meeting point for the demonstration was Monastiraki square at 5pm, from where the demonstrators marched onto the Athinas Street just before 6pm on their way across the main arteries of the city to Syntagma square. The idea of the demo was to arrive at the square to confront a group of ‘autonomous’ fascists, a Strasserist faction of the local nationalist circles, who practice the political strategy of entryism to lead dissident groups towards the neo-Nazi ways.
It is crazy that I almost end up in the middle of this demonstration!! The bus leaves its spot at Syntagma Square, and in two more stops, in front of the Acropolis Museum, I hop off at the same spot where I had hopped on this morning. I walk the several blocks back to my hotel, and there, lo and behold (!), right in front of me in the hotel lobby, is my red suitcase!! A wave of happiness, relief, even ecstasy, washes over me. Thank goodness!! I ask the desk clerk when the bag appeared and they said it arrived a couple of hours ago. The only regret of course is that Egypt Air never called to let me know they found the bag, which would have 1) eased my worries and 2) saved me from spending 262 euros on new clothes that I DID NOT NEED!!!
I haul my suitcase immediately up to my room, take a shower and change into one of the cute knit dresses I had packed. I am so happy to have clean clothes and all my belongings!! I have to figure now that the clothes I bought are a sunk cost, never to be recovered except in wearing the clothes over time…..
I head out almost immediately to walk to the cafes along Plaka where I find God’s Restaurant. Someone lures me in and since the menu looks good and the sign out front says it’s recommended by Rick Steves, I take a seat. Later I look in my Rick Steves book but I find no mention of this restaurant. False advertising!! However, it’s quite pleasant as I sip on a glass of wine and watch the hip young Europeans strolling by.
I enjoy a dinner of mussels and bread and bubbly water and Greek wine.
I finish my meal and take a little stroll in Plaka and then wander back to my hotel. A few nighttime shots show a colorful area.
I love the sign on this business….
Back at the hotel, I get another glass of wine from the lobby and carry it up to the terrace to enjoy the nighttime view of the Acropolis. This time I have the terrace to myself. There is a full moon, or close to it, and the lights of Athens fan out all around me. Life is good. Very very good.
I go to sleep in my own pajamas and I charge the battery on my camera and on my phone. Happy reunion with all my belongings. I go to sleep, totally relaxed, knowing now that everything should fall in place for the rest of my adventure in Greece.