Monday, 8 May
Dolora and I were up early since we decided to do wash at the laundry across the street before breakfast. Breakfast had lots of choices, yogurts, meat and cheese, fruit, cereals, breads, eggs, cakes, juices and coffees. Since we will be here for three breakfasts it will be easy to sample a little of everything.
Another sunny day in the high seventies so we decided we would take the Psyrri and Central Market walk from our guidebook. Our walk started near Hadrian’s Library, one of the sites we visited yesterday. This took us a little out of the complete tourist areas and gave us a little taste of real Greece. Crowds seemed much smaller. There is a lot of graffiti here. In fact when a new building is built, sometimes the owner commissions street art. The other graffiti artists respect the work and don’t paint over it. This way the owner gets a choice in the artwork. We passed several Byzantine churches. Since Dolora and I had on shorts it was not appropriate to go inside. We need to remember that for the rest of our time in Greece.
One of the turns led us to Little Kook cafe. It occupies several buildings. The displays seemed a combination of some Disney and Alice in wonderland. Workers were all in costume. After passing a bakery, we walked by some of the local shops including baskets, men’s items and artificial flowers before arriving at the spice street, the aromas were intoxicating. Next was a shop with cured meats. The pastrami is supposed to be made with camel meat. I plan to give it a try if I can find it in a small portion. Several stands sold snails. Then we turned a corner into the produce market and olive heaven! There were at least twenty different types of green and black olives. The seller kept giving me tastes and I kept adding a few of each flavor to the bag. Finally I had about a pound of assorted olives which cost me a whopping 2.5 euros (about $2.80), Snacks for the next few days. I don’t know if you can get an upset stomach from too many olives but I will probably find out.
Dolora and I found a coffee shop where we sat for a bit. Dolora had a cappuccino and I had my first Greek coffee. Coffee grounds and sugar, if you use it, are mixed with water in a small brass pitcher. The pitcher is put in hot sand to heat the coffee. When served, you pour the coffee into your cup and wait a little to let the grounds settle before drinking. The trick is to try not to drink the “mud” at the bottom of the cup,
We went through the meat market and fish market. Lots of smells, some good, some not so good. I’ve spared you photos of the heads in the meat market, still with eyeballs. Lunch was from souvlaki row while we sat in Monastiraki Square people watching. Then we wandered our way back to the hotel for a break before our first tour group meeting this evening.
Dolora and I took another walk and stopped for coffee at a local coffee chain, Coffee Island, enjoying watching people go by.
Our tour group of twenty six met our guide, Ioanna (pronounced Yo anna, English Joanna) at 6:00. After introductions, a few guidelines were reviewed before meeting at 7:30 for dinner. Dinner was at Gods’ Restaurant. We started with bread, followed by a Greek salad, a plate of spreads with stuffed grape leaves and grilled Greek cheese. Dolora and I shared the Greek stew with orzo pasta and meatballs with yogurt sauce. Dessert was yogurt with honey. After dinner we took a short stroll to view the Acropolis at night.
The tour starts tomorrow morning with a tour of the Acropolis and Acropolis museum with the afternoon to ourselves.