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Departing Athens for Victoria

April 14, 2006 – Friday – Athens, Greece -Milan-Toronto-Victoria, Canada

My alarm goes off at 3am and I am picked up by Jimmy (Paul’s alternate) at 4am. It is a bit confusing picking out Jimmy, since there are so many cabs going by. Exarhia is still going strong at this late hour! Jimmy and I have a nice chat on the way to the airport, and I pay him the €500 I owe Paul for the taxi services over the last week.

As I board my Alitalia flight to Milan, it is raining lightly at Athens airport. We taxi over the airport’s main access road on an overpass to get to our runway. As we takeoff, the rain is increasing. What luck I’ve had on this trip. At most we had some overcast in Venice, otherwise it has been sunny every day. We fly the length of Italy’s east coast south to north, and land on time in Milan. I end up only two gates away from where my group left Malpenza for Tripoli three weeks ago! This is the old part of the airport, and it is very crowded. Destinations for the four gates include: Prague, Bucharest, Tunisia, Timisora, Cairo, Istanbul, Krakow, Dublin, and (of course) Toronto.

Flight map - Athens to Milan
Flight map – Athens to Milan

The Tunisia flight seems to be popular with the Italians by the look of the passports. Lots of tired, squalling kids, and they all appear to be waiting for the Toronto flight. I observe two common types of passengers for Toronto: Indians with kids returning home (after already spending many hours in the air), and older Italians obviously going to visit their family in Toronto. We board Alitalia AZ652, a Boeing 767-33A (ER) about 20 minutes late, then once we are aboard, another 30 minute delay is announced due to ATC traffic congestion.

Flight map - Milan to Toronto
Flight map – Milan to Toronto

I take some nice photographs of Lago Maggiore and the Italian Alps, where we stayed in Beligerate last night, just north of Milan. We are flying over Guernsey and the south coast of Wales while having dinner. I also spot several large ships in the Atlantic shipping lane off the coast of England. Flying over Newfoundland reveals endless frozen lakes and not a tree in sight. I think the Italian woman sitting beside me was impressed, and perhaps a little worried about finding the same thing in Toronto! Unfortunately she doesn’t speak English, so I can’t reassure her about Toronto’s milder climate.

I’ve noticed as we fly over the Atlantic that aircraft in the traffic lanes fly very close to each other – at times I could almost make out the aircraft markings. One of the female Alitalia cabin crew sees my digital SLR, and tells me I can’t use it in flight. This doesn’t make any sense – it’s normal to prohibit use of electronic devices during takeoff and landing, but not during flight. Alitalia’s own announcement states this, but I wasn’t going to argue the point with her so I put my camera away. Despite this warning, I took some great aerial shots all the way from Athens through to the St. Lawrence!

After 9.5 hours in the air, we finally arrive at Pearson Airport in Toronto. Alitalia lands at a skyway equipped gate, but it is off in some remote area of the airport. Everyone has to get on a shuttle bus and go for a 20 minute ride to Terminal One. We then we go through Canadian Immigration. There are a dozen officers, however two flights are being processed: ours from Italy, and one from China. The Chinese take a long time to be interviewed, since many don’t speak English, and it appears some haven’t filled in the form. Once I am finally interviewed by an officer, I breeze through in less than a minute. I also am lucky to find the correct luggage carousel and grab my bag right away. Customs decides they don’t want to talk with me, so that was easy!

I now have five hours to kill before my Air Canada direct flight to Victoria departs. I sip a Cappuccino Grande, which is my first cappuccino since we left Italy. While in Athens, I made coffee with my breakfast in the apartment. I really didn’t feel comfortable spending time in the numerous cafés in Athens for some reason – perhaps it was all the smoking that put me off.

Pearson International Airport is quite impressive, now that the expansion is completed. The new Terminal One is grand-looking, with soaring ceilings and glass, new car displays, bars, restaurants, coffee bars, duty free shops, bookstores and all sorts of other shops.  Even the cleaning staff are impressive: they wear black and white suit-like uniforms complete with ties, and the airport is absolutely spotless.

While I’m waiting for my flight, I call home and let them know I’m in Toronto and the flight appears to be on-time, so they should plan to pick me up at 10:30pm. After this call, I watch a young Chinese guy try to use one of the pay telephones without success. He then asks me for help, and I see that the number he is calling is Ottawa (long distance). I coach him through the process of using a credit card, but the telephone rejects his Chinese card. I then offer to let him use my cellular telephone, which works fine. He is very grateful, shakes my hand, and runs off to the gate to board his flight.

Flight map - Toronto to Victoria
Flight map – Toronto to Victoria

I am extremely tired when I finally arrive at Victoria Airport. It takes me about five days to fully recover from the jet lag.  The westward journey was certainly the killer.  I wouldn’t let a travel agent talk me into a 30 hour elapsed time flight again…that’s for sure.  I should have had an overnight stay in Toronto on the way back, as happened for the start of my trip.

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Cape Sounio

April 13, 2006 – Thursday – Cape Sounio – Temple of Poseidon

Paul picks me up at 8am for our pre-arranged tour to Cape Sounio to see the Temple of Poseidon. We drive along the Saronic Gulf coastal road through Glyfadha (close to Athens), Vouliagmeni (posh resorts), as well as Lagonisi and Anavyssos (beachfront towns).

The Temple of Poseidon site (€4 admission) is the southern most point of land for the isthmus where Athens is located, jutting out into the Aegean Sea. Even with the various stops for photos we made along the way, we arrive at 10am. The morning light is near perfect, so I get a nice dark blue sky to contrast with the temple’s marble columns. Needless to say, this site is dramatic. The temple is located at the top of the headland, which has steep cliffs to the sea hundreds of metres below. Spring flowers are in full bloom, and there is a fresh breeze blowing. I take advantage of the sparse crowds and photograph the temple and headlands from every angle.

Cape Sounio
9 photos
  • Posh resorts on the Saronic Gulf shoreline
    Posh resorts on the Saronic Gulf shoreline
  • Vouliagmeni Lake resort
    Vouliagmeni Lake resort
  • Arsida Island and a nice bay on the Saronic Gulf
    Arsida Island and a nice bay on the Saronic Gulf
  • First glimpse of the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounio
    First glimpse of the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounio
  • First glimpse of the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounio
    First glimpse of the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounio
  • Temple of Poseidon
    Temple of Poseidon
  • Temple of Poseidon
    Temple of Poseidon
  • Temple of Poseidon
    Temple of Poseidon
  • Temple of Poseidon
    Temple of Poseidon

I opt to return to Athens along the same coast road we just took because the alternative is to drive back down the middle of Mesoyia. Along the way Paul is called by one of his drivers to tell him there are three protests in full swing in Athens. He said he had parked the bus and was between police tear gas and the protesters Molotov cocktails! We change our plans, and divert to Markopoulo and drive on the expressway by the new airport to see the new Olympic Stadium.

Paul and his Mercedes taxi in front of Olympic Stadium
Paul and his Mercedes taxi in front of Olympic Stadium

Paul drops me off at the Irini metro station, since he won’t be able to drive into central Athens while the protests are on. I get back to Omonia station downtown within 15 minutes, and walk the few blocks back to the apartment. No sign of any protests.

I withdraw €500 from a bank machine, so I can pay Paul €490 for the two airport transfers, the full day tour to Corinth and the Peloponnese sites, and the half day tour to Cape Sounio. I’m very happy with Paul’s services, and although a significant expense, it is much cheaper as compared to the bus tours our group took in Italy.

I have a nap before going out to dinner at 8pm. Ayah again for my last dinner in Athens: Roca salad and rabbit in lemon sauce with roast potatoes and rice. The rabbit is delicious, but has small bones. They serve me a little dessert gratis: a small square pudding with citrus peal, currents and dusted with cinnamon.

Except for the odd beggar, nobody is alone in Athens. Folks are socializing in cafés, on the street, or having energetic conversations on their cellphones while they walk in the city or take the metro. Speaking of which, virtually everyone has a cellphone here. I passed one guy today sitting in the same seat in a café outside my apartment three times – at about 1pm, again at 4pm, and finally at 8pm!

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Athens – day 6

April 12, 2006 – Wednesday – Athens – Roman Forum, Tower of the Winds, Monastiraki, Lykavitos Hill, Benaki Museum

I set my alarm for 7am, and I’m out the door shortly after 8am. I am at the Acropolis entrance when it opens and want to see the Acropolis Museum. The only problem is the ticket I have can only be used once for the Acropolis itself!

The Tower of the Winds
The Tower of the Winds

I am disappointed, but there is more to see using my combination ticket, so I walk down to the Roman Forum. The Tower of the Winds is of particular interest to me, especially after hearing the talk on sundials at the RASC Victoria Centre a few months ago. The Tower of the Winds holds special significance since it is a sundial, a compass, a weather vane, and a water clock. The tower was built in the first century AD by Andronikos of Kyrrhos, a Syrian astronomer.

Funicular train - Lykavitos Hill
Funicular train – Lykavitos Hill

I wander around Monastiraki for a short while, however it is mainly a shopping district and restaurants, so it is of little interest to me. I take the metro Blue Line to Syndagma, the closest station to Lykavitos Hill, which is my next target. The funicular train takes people to the top of the hill for €4.50 (return). There are also stairs to the top of the hill for those so inclined (pun intended). There are wonderful unobstructed views of the whole of Athens from the top. There is also an (expensive) restaurant and a small chapel dedicated to St. George.

Benaki Museum
Benaki Museum

I take the funicular train back down the hill, then walk back to the Benaki Museum (€6 admission – no photography).

I notice police paddy wagons parked in the side streets, and there is a protest happening across the street at the side of the Parliament. I quickly duck inside and the woman who sold me the admission said they were all crying a half hour ago, since the riot police had used tear gas.

Gold wreath of sprigs of myrtle, Hellenistic Period - Benaki Museum postcard
Gold wreath of sprigs of myrtle, Hellenistic Period

This museum’s artifacts are mainly the result of bequests from private collections by wealthy Greeks. The quality of the artifacts is noticeably better, having less restoration, and the museum also offers a very diverse collection, which they cycle through displays.

The Benaki Museum consists of several sites. This one contains the Museum of Greek Culture, where ancient finds are on the main floor, and modern (to about 1900) Greek artifacts, textiles, and art are on the upper floors. I didn’t find liturgical vestments, gospels, historical letters and notes and other paper and parchment in any other museums. This is fascinating material. There is also a huge collection of jewellery, Greek costumes and folk artifacts (for those who are interested).

After returning to my apartment, finding Internet access is the next thing on the list. I go to an Internet cafe 4 blocks down Solomou which charges €1.50/hr. Warning: all the Internet cafes in Athens are smoky!

Interior of Xapas restaurant - Athens
Interior of Xapas restaurant

I go to Xapas, Methonis 58 for dinner this evening. I have pork simmered in a nice sauce with rice, and a Greek salad sans cucumbers. Cost was €15. The tomatoes the restaurants use here in Athens are so lovely and sweet – no doubt fully vine-ripened, unlike the horrible tomatoes we have available in Canada.

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Athens – day 5

April 11, 2006 – Tuesday – Athens – Olympieion, Zapion & National Archaeological Museum

I sleep in this morning, but by 10am I’m on the move, taking the metro from Omonia to Akropoli Station again, but this time I am heading for the Olympieion, the site of Hadrian’s Arch and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. I initially walk in the wrong direction and end up in the Koukaki district at Syngrou-Fix metro station, but soon find my way back.

Hadrian's Arch
Hadrian’s Arch

Hadrian’s Arch is located outside the fence around the Temple of Olympian Zeus, right on very busy Syngrou Ave. It is very impressive in size, but has limited decoration. Admission to the Temple of Olympian Zeus is part of the €12 combination ticket I purchased for the Acropolis. It is a huge temple, but there are only 15 marble columns left standing out of the original 104. The rest of this site is mostly rubble, however the remains of the Roman Bath is interesting – worth a look.

I then crossed the street to see the Zapion and the National Garden. The Zapion and surrounding fountain, gardens and restaurant is impressive, however the National Garden is mundane. I try to visit the recommended Benaki Museum, however it is closed on Tuesdays. I obviously didn’t read my guidebook carefully enough!

Presidential Guards at the Hellenic Parliament
Presidential Guards

The Hellenic Parliament is across the street from Syntagma Square, and is an easy 10 minute walk from the Benaki Museum. The Presidential Guards wear ceremonial dress, including big puffies on their shoes! The real guards to the Parliamentary precinct (which is closed to the public) are armed police. Since the Benaki Museum is closed, I take the metro from Syntagma to Omonia Stations, and revisit the National Archaeological Museum.

Gold death-mask, known as the 'mask of Agamemnon'
Gold death-mask, known as the ‘mask of Agamemnon’

When I first visited this Museum on Saturday, it closed before I could see the showpiece gold artifacts recovered from Mycenae. This time I spend a full two hours viewing this important gallery. I saw the famous funerary Mask of Agamemnon, as well as many other superb artifacts (many made of gold). The side gallery showcasing Cycladic art was a surprise, since these are pre-Mycenaen. I believe this civilization was one of the first to form after man moved out of caves!

I must confess I’m not a fan of history, however visiting all these ancient sites in Greece and seeing so many fascinating artifacts brings ancient civilizations alive. I can understand why thousands of Greek schoolchildren visit these sites and museums every day.

Athens Metro ticket machine
Athens Metro ticket machine

I have used the Athens metro to get to some of the local sites. It is inexpensive, safe, and easy to use, so I would recommend visitors to the city make use of this form of transportation wherever you can. You must purchase a ticket, then validate it as you walk to the train platforms. If you get caught dodging the fare, you risk an on-the-spot fine of forty times the fare, so remember to buy and validate those tickets.

I catch up on my journal and rest for awhile before going out to dinner around 7:45pm. Ayah again for dinner: Roca salad and stuffed pork with roast potatoes. I planned to have Gemista tonight, but they didn’t have it. The pork was very tasty though. It’s 8:30pm and the restaurant is empty. Greeks certainly eat late!

Tomorrow I plan to get to the Acropolis as close to opening time (8am) as possible, and see the Acropolis Museum. Then I’ll walk to the Roman Forum and see the Tower of the Winds. So no sleeping in tomorrow morning…I’ll set my alarm for 7am.

I’m going to have to confirm my Alitalia flights from Athens to Milan and Milan to Toronto and Victoria either tomorrow or Thursday. Hopefully I can confirm online.

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Acropolis & Ancient Agora

April 10, 2006 – Monday – Athens, Greece

I take the Metro from Omonia Square to the Acropolis (€12 admission). Unfortunately I don’t arrive until 9:45am (it opens at 8am), so I get to join the crush of the crowds of bus tours and Greek school children who are swarming over the Parthenon, the Propylaia, and the Temple of Athena Nike. The crowds weren’t quite as bad around the Erechtheion (Old Temple) and Odeion of Herdes Atticus (Herodion) theatre.

View of the Ancient Agora from the Pantheon
View of the Ancient Agora from the Pantheon

Once I take a few photos and leave the summit of the Acropolis, the crowds thin and it is downright tranquil as I walk down the Panathenic Way to the Ancient Agora and the Temple of Hephaistos. I also visit the beautiful Holy Apostles 11th century Byzantine church, which has some wonderful fresco fragments inside. I’ll return to the Acropolis again – either at the 8am opening time, or late in the afternoon when the crowds are less. I still want to see the Dionysos theatre and the Acropolis Museum.

Xapas Taverna

I try a new restaurant tonight – Xapas, 58 Methonis, dining alone from 7:30-8:30pm. All their entrees seemed to be vegetarian, so I had Spinach Pie and Greek Salad, which were both excellent. Cost was €12.50. Last night I noticed that their customers arrived earlier, because when I walked by on my way home, they were jam-packed with a bunch of 20-somethings by 7:30pm, with some playing musical instruments.

Acropolis
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  • The Acropolis from Strefi Hill
    The Acropolis from Strefi Hill
  • Odeion of Herdes Atticus (Herodion)
    Odeion of Herdes Atticus (Herodion)
  • The Propylaia
    The Propylaia
  • The Propylaia
    The Propylaia
  • The Erechtheion
    The Erechtheion
  • The Erechtheion
    The Erechtheion
  • The Erechtheion
    The Erechtheion
  • View of the Ancient Agora from the Pantheon
    View of the Ancient Agora from the Pantheon
  • Church of the Holy Apostles
    Church of the Holy Apostles
  • Fresco in the dome of the Church of the Holy Apostles
    Fresco in the dome of the Church of the Holy Apostles
  • Stoa of Attalos
    Stoa of Attalos
  • Temple of Hepaistos
    Temple of Hepaistos
  • Reconstruction of the Acropolis as viewed from the Hephaisteion
    Reconstruction of the Acropolis as viewed from the Hephaisteion
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Circle Tour – day 3

April 9, 2006 – Sunday – Circle Tour – Corinth isthmus & Peloponnese peninsula

Today is a full day tour with Paul, since getting to these sites without a car is difficult. Paul picks me up at 8am and we head out of Athens.

Corinth Canal

Bridges over the Corinth Canal with a ship passing through
Bridges over the Corinth Canal with a ship passing through

First stop is the north end of the Corinth Canal between the Aegean Sea and the Gulf of Corinth. It is obviously a very strategic waterway, since it eliminates sailing around the very large Peloponnese peninsula. Nero started the canal in 66 A.D., and used slaves and prisoners to dig 3.3km of the 6.3km total distance before having to abandon the project when he was arrested in Rome. The canal project wasn’t restarted again until 1882, and completed in 1893, paid for by the Greek government but built by private contractors. Sinking bridges at either end accommodate local traffic, however the expressway and other major roads go over top.

Ancient Corinth & Acrocorinth

Temple of Apollo at Ancient Corinth with Acrocorinth in the distance
Temple of Apollo at Ancient Corinth with Acrocorinth in the distance

Next is Ancient Corinth (€6 admission). There are lots of interesting ruins here and a decent museum. The Temple of Apollo’s pillars dominate the Agora site, but the Lechaion Road, Fountain of Peirene and basilica offer a glimpse into daily Roman life here

Acrocorinth is visible from this site, located 565m above the ancient city. Paul drives up the mountain to the first gate, and then I climb the steep and rocky roads through the three gates built by various occupiers of this strategic fortress. I can’t face the 4 km climb to the top where the Acropolis is located.

Mycenae

Next stop is Mycenae and the Treasure of Atreus (€8 admission). Perhaps this is the most interesting site I see today, although it is less dramatic visually. Mycenae (and other ancient sites in the area) were inhabited by advanced civilizations hundreds of years before Christ (BC), proving that the tales told by Homer were based on fact. Mycenae is located on a low hill, and the Treasure of Atreus is located in a beehive shaped structure nearby. Actually, the treasures are now located in Athens at the National Archaeological Museum. The gold masks are a must see when you visit the Museum.

Grave Circle A - Mycenae
Grave Circle A – Mycenae

Palamidhi Fortress & Nafplio

Palamidhi Castle walls and gun emplacements with Argos Bay behind
Palamidhi Castle walls and gun emplacements with Argos Bay

There are 900 steps to climb up to the Palamidhi Fortress from the pretty coastal town of Nafplio, however I opt to drive up (€6 admission). Palamidhi Fortress overlooks the town below, and the Bourtzi Fortress on Ayiou Theodhorou islet in Argos Bay. This is perhaps the most impressive fortress I’ve ever visited. It is perched on a steep hill, and the views are breathtaking. Like Acrocorinth, strenuous climbing is involved in exploring the site!

Epidaurus

Ancient outdoor amphitheatre of Epidaurus
Ancient outdoor amphitheatre of Epidaurus

Ancient Epidaurus, Theatre – (€6 admisson) – This ancient outdoor theatre is still used today to stage performances. It is not as large or as well decorated as the theatres we saw in Libya at Leptis Magna and Sabrata, however it is an impressive theatre nonetheless. It dates to the 3rd and 4th centuries BC, and is part of a larger complex of buildings, including a sanitarium.

Return to Athens

Expressway from Corinth to Athens, twin tunnels

It has been a long day, but very productive and rewarding, since I experienced so many ancient sites, thanks to Paul’s intimate knowledge. I go to the Ayah restaurant again this evening for dinner, and have chicken and rice with Rocket salad – excellent!

Greek restaurants will dress most salads with oil and vinegar before serving unless you catch them first. As well, olive oil is poured on almost all main courses.

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Athens – day 2

April 8, 2006 – Saturday – Athens, Greece – farmer’s market, Archaeological Museum & Strefi Hill

Oranges from farmer’s market

After making some coffee, and having some bread and marmalade as a late breakfast, I join Harry for a shopping trip to a local, open air market: fresh fish, fruit and vegetables, as well as household sundries. Harry stocks up on everything, and I buy some oranges which are tree ripened and still have some leaves attached to them. They are super sweet and juicy!

The 'Artemision Jockey' Bronze statue of a horse and young jockey at the Museum
The ‘Artemision Jockey’ Bronze statue of a horse and young jockey at the Museum

After the shopping trip I walk to the National Archaeological Museum, which is only 15 minutes’ walk away. As with museums in Italy, it is endless. Hundreds of stelae, statues, and other artifacts from ancient times are beautifully displayed. Admission is €6, and they close at 3pm today.

I skip lunch, but pick up some date and sesame cake at a bakery on the way back to the apartment. I make some coffee and have a piece of cake for a snack before I lay down for an hour. I feel better after the rest, but I think I’m a bit depressed and lonely after being part of a group for the last two weeks!

Ayah restaurant entrance
Ayah restaurant entrance

Harry pointed out Strefi Hill on our shopping trip, which is a small hill just a short distance away from the apartment. I hike up to the top and am rewarded with good views of the Acropolis and the whole city. I take a few photos, then look for restaurants on the way down, and find some which are open. I have dinner at Ayah, 43 Methunis: green salad (lettuce, tomatoes, olives, capers, cheese on top), with a penne & cheese entreé – a bargain at €8.90. It is very good food, and is much quieter than the Albanian place last night. I’ll be back.

Lots of customers smoke in restaurants here, which is hard to get used to after our non-smoking laws in Canada. Libya is also a smokers’ haven, but Italy restricts smoking in many restaurants.

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National Archaeological Museum – Athens

April 8, 2006 – Saturday

I walk to the National Archaeological Museum, which is only 15 minutes’ walk from my rental apartment in Exarhia. As with museums in Italy, it is endless. Hundreds of stelae, statues, and other artifacts from ancient times are beautifully displayed. Admission is €6, and they close at 3pm today.

April 11, 2006 – Tuesday

Since the Benaki Museum is closed today, I take the metro from Syntagma to Omonia Stations, and revisit the National Archaeological Museum.

When I first visited this Museum on Saturday, it closed before I could see the showpiece gold artifacts recovered from Mycenae. This time I spend a full two hours viewing this important gallery. I am amazed by the famous funerary Mask of Agamemnon, as well as many other superb artifacts (many made of gold). The side gallery showcasing Cycladic art was a surprise, since these are pre-Mycenaen. I believe this civilization was one of the first to form after man moved out of caves!

I must confess I’m not a fan of history, however visiting all these ancient sites in Greece and seeing so many fascinating artifacts brings ancient civilizations alive. I can understand why thousands of Greek schoolchildren visit these sites and museums every day.

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Milan to Athens

April 7, 2006 – Friday – Milan, Italy to Athens, Greece & first day in Athens

My solar eclipse tour group returns to Toronto from Milan today, however I am going onward to Athens, staying for a week. We have a 5am wakeup call, and the bus arrives at 6:30am. We arrive at Milan’s Malpenza airport, where our airport guide takes us to the Alitalia check-in. He takes me to a different check-in, since I’m not going to Canada/US. After clearing security, I call Paul the Honest Greek taxi driver and confirm he will pick me up at Athens International airport upon my arrival there.

I carried my cellular telephone with me on this trip for the first time. It has been very handy to call home and to receive calls from home. The overseas network which my Canadian carrier Rogers offers works very well, and is not too expensive if the calls are kept short. It is also very convenient to be able to place and receive calls while traveling. The cost averages about $1/minute for local calls in Italy, about $2/minute for calls to/from North America and Italy, and about $3/minute to place other long distance calls. In Greece, the rates are about 50 cents/minute more (in each category) than in Italy.

People watching in Malpenza airport:

  • Russian sports team – lots of hot looking, muscular young men
  • A woman with her Yorkshire terrier
  • A young Italian woman wearing sequined cowboy boots
  • A sports team from Tunis and another from Italy – young men & women – I thought the Turin Olympics were over?
  • Staff at an American Express booth stopping people to sign them up for the Alitalia gold card – a tough job
  • Several African men in traditional long robes and hats
My rental apartment on Exarhia Square

The Alitalia flight to Athens is about 20 minutes late taking off. After arriving, I walk directly to the Arrivals area – no entry formalities thanks to still being in the European Union. Paul is holding a “Mr. Carr” sign so he is easy to find, and drives me to Athens (30 minutes by car), and drops me off at Harry’s apartment. Harry meets me at the door and shows me his rental apartment. It’s very basic, but clean, and has a small kitchen, dining room, bathroom. Despite the place having 3 bedrooms, I have the apartment to myself.

Harry recommends a local restaurant run by Albanians for dinner this evening. It takes me awhile to find it, despite it only being a block away. It isn’t fancy, but the food is good, and it’s not too expensive. I see lots of locals stop in to pickup takeout for dinner – a good sign! I have salad, a pork & spinach main course, and a Coke for €10.50.