Sunday, August 31, 2008
So here I am, sitting on our balcony, in Rhodes, or 'Rodos' island, the second biggest island in Greece; yet also the furtherest away from the mainland. We're pretty much on the coast of Turkey.
Heaven. It's surreal. God I love my job.
In Greece, you say ‘Yussus’ when you say hello.
That’s probably the easiest phrase to remember off the batton. Oh and Meh leh neh Peas’ (My name is Peas.) Very useful when making an impression on a young 'un named 'Vissilius.' But that's another story for another day.
I’ve learnt basic Greek, memorised the pure phonics on my first day in Athens or rather, ‘Athina.’ Because you can't learn it any other way, trust me. People smile when you talk to them in their language. They dig it. And also give you easy bargains on gold leather sandals.
What a city, though. Two turbo days in the capital in 31 degree in-the-sun heat. All the locals are fully out and about, scantily dressed. And we just happened to arrive when the city is having its summer sales.
Gold sandals, shorts and an amazing dress – for a total of 36 euros. Not a bad dealio. Hell I'm chuffed.
As far as cities are concerned, we did the whole thing back to front in one weekend. We walked from one end to the other, twice. (Once on a pub crawl/site seeing, the second to retrace our drunken steps looking for D's sunglasses: Scene of The Crime Morning After The Night Before, trail. ('That’s where Tim broke his toe…and where Peas tried to climb a wall…and look, that's where Whale started dancing on the table…’)
It’s such a classic European, Mediterranean, sprawling huge city, except with arhictectural masterpieces dating back 5000 years.
Athens is 5200 years old. Think about that for second; Johannesburg is 112 years old. Mere spawn in comparison.
You want a history of civilisation, this is the place to get it.
We saw those hillside stadiums where there are these drainage systems that collected all the blood after gladiator rumbling. (I think. Makes a nice story anyway.)
There were even ‘box seats’ craved out of stone, I suppose where top dogs like Hyppocrates got to sit and get involved, front range. Clapping, hypothesising and drinking great tankards of sweet wine. (The wine here - although a country of the grape - is a little shite. Not that it matters, honestly.)
The Parthenon, in the Akropolis, is undergoing reconstructive surgery, but even with random scaffholding on the side, it’s incredible.
You stand there just marvelling, ‘Can’t believe I’m here. And it really IS like the Discovery Channel.’ The gate of Hadrian (another random oke) and the Temple of Zeus.
The views of Athens from atop of the Akropolis are astounding. Lots of terracotta rooftops, dotted swith a few aesthetically pleasing-looking slums.
Our hotel was extraordinarily and luckily plonked in the middle of the hub – in the centre of the action - right in the suburb of Plaka. Where people float around outside playing live music, shopping and talking loudly to each other. (Greeks are loud. I just blend in. What a pleasure.)
After the sites, and legging it up mountains (this stuff takes effort to see, but at least you’re legging it up through tiny little alleys with grape vines, cafes and that sort of stuff), we settled in for some late afternoon drinking.
The patron loved us and just bought ouzo after ouzo, while we ate the most amazing platter I’ve ever to introduce my tastebuds to in my life. Mythos beer, tzatziki that has basically reaffirmed my love of garlic and yoghurt – trust me – and flipping great shots of freezing cold ouzo. We got absolutely polookered.
After jumping from bar to bar and revelling in the ease with which the ouzo was travelling down our collective oesophaguses, we took a cab to Exarhia. The boho, university people, vibe-like suburb of Athens. A little like Melville, but more upmarket.
More pubs, pavement drinks and an underground vent…(from the very-confusing Metro) that I could practice a Marilyn Monroe on in my new grey tracksuit dress. (Oh believe me, tracksuit has never been so hot.)
Such an amazing city. I really liked Athens.
Thus far, this team trip has been awesome. Drunken and cultural, a wonderful blend the Greeks themselves would rather approve of, frankly. And everyone is on form; we've been in stitches practically the entire time.
And here I sit on Rodos, with the beach within spitool distance...and I await a golden brown tan.
I had three pina coladas tonight. Yum.