One of the many awesome things the Days did for me this week was help me plan it. I originally wanted to spent 2 days “island hopping”–taking a ferry to a few islands in the Cyclades, hopefully Santorini and Mykonos. I sat down with them and talked about it Tuesday night. Unfortunately, a ferry strike was planned for Tuesday and Wednesday, so I would be stuck in Athens for at least those days. They also informed me than ferry travel would become very difficult come Friday and Saturday, since everyone is going back to their village for Easter. They suggested Delphi, which is a single day’s journey by bus to the north, Corinth, also by bus, or the Saronic Gulf islands, which are much closer to Athens. Santorini is more than 5 hours by traditional ferry, but the island of Aegina is only 1 hour. But regardless, I wouldn’t be going until Wednesday at the earliest.
(By the way: while standing in line for the Saturday night Easter Vigil, I met a Bernardian’s friend visiting from Germany who was also planning on going to Athens, and Santorini, the same time I was…but his phone wasn’t working, and once I learned about the ferry strike, I knew that meeting up would be all but impossible.)
So Wednesday, the Days took me to the Agora, near the Acropolis. The Agora has much fewer remains than the Acropolis, so it really takes some explanation to “get it,” as Leslie Day told me. After the Agora, I went up to the Acropolis by myself. It was a little underwhelming, to be honest. It’s covered with scaffolding and you can’t get very close to the Parthenon. The best part was just walking through the ancient entrance, the Proplyaea. Between the two visits, I ate at a very touristy, but guidebook-recommended, spot in the Plaka neighborhood. Plaka is the area right next to the Acropolis and full of trinket shops. I simply had to try a Greek salad and Souvlaki. They were probably overpriced, but I just wanted to get started on my Greek dining experience. Nights were spent hanging out with the Days in their apartment, which was fantastic. They were really wonderful hosts.
But before I went home that night, I stopped at a very special sandal-maker. I had read about the store on the internet years before, was saddened to learn he didn’t do online orders, but bookmarked the site in preparation for a future trip to Athens. I love sandals, but the selection of mens’ sandals in the US is pathetic: they’re either plastic slip-ons or thong-style. Or Birkenstocks. But I wanted leather sandals, exactly like the ones on the site. So I found the store downtown and spent about an hour trying on a dozen sandal models. I was the only customer for most of my time, so I could take my time in carefully selecting the right model. The owner was my “customer service rep” while his two employees in the back, if you could call the second half of the tiny store “the back,” adjusted sandals. I got two pairs for 30 euro each, which is a steal, especially when they’re adjusted for my size. The store is somewhat famous; the owner has pictures all over his wall of celebrities that have shopped there. Some of the celebrities get a sandal they buy named after them. I bought the John Lennon. If only there were stores like it in the US.