Archive for the 'London' Category

Sep 08 2007

Hello from Athens!

Published by under Athens,Greece,London

Hello from Athens! We are currently sitting in an internet cafe, which is of course located between some sort of meat market and a purveyor of sidewalk handbags. But first, a recap of our short time in London…

We had a 9-hour layover in Heathrow, so we decided to go through security and see a bit of the city. One 45-minute metro ride later, we were at Green Park, right outside of Buckingham Palace. Green Park contains something called the “Canadian Memorial Fountain,” which struck me as odd, since Canada was still very much in existence when we left the States on Wednesday. Tall gilded gates separate the park from Buckingham Palace. The traditional guards that we associate with the Palace were all there, toting rifles and stomping on cue. Unfortunately, they are largely obscured behind all the Kevlar vests and sub-machine guns that adorn the “less traditional” guards. Still, we managed to take some pictures through the perimeter fence.

I would also like to point out that when I was almost flattened by a double-decker bus, it was only because I was chasing after Brittany, who had run into the street. She did look before crossing, but instinctually looked to her left, rather than to her right. “Look both ways” is our new trip mantra. The fact that our first official brush with death on this trip came within the intitial few hours does not bode well. Of course, neither does the fact that no one in London seemed able to understand us. And this is the only country we’ll visit where we allegedly speak the same language? Hm…

We returned to Heathrow in time to catch our 4-hour flight to Athens, which put us here at 4:00am. It turns out that our hotel is in what one might call a seedier side of Athens, so I began to feel uneasy dragging our luggage through the streets at this hour. The lowlight was when a beady-eyed rodent-like man leered at me flirtatiously and cooed, “bon voyage.”

We collapsed in our hotel room, and slept all day on Friday. We woke up very hungry around 7:00pm, which worked out better than I would have expected. Greeks tend to eat dinner between 9 and 11pm, so by the time we changed into our “non-American” clothes and checked our guidebook for food recommendations, we managed to show up at a taverna about the same time as the locals. The taverna was called Sholarhio, and the best part about the experience in Brittany’s eyes was that the owner initially took us for French. Given Brittany’s careful research into how NOT to look like an American tourist, this was the first small victory of the trip.

Sholarhio is off the beaten tourist-path, and this is reflected in its lower prices and more authentic fare. We chose to eat in traditional Greek style, by selecting several mezedhes to share, which are smaller portioned offerings (think tapas). 24 Euros bought us 5 mezedhes: pork with red sauce, fried eggplant slices, sausages, tzatziki, and something that the waiter insisted was not french fries but is in fact french fries. Also included in the price: a large bottle of mineral water, a basket of bread, a half liter of red wine (tastes like Franzia!) and some kind of dessert that you can imagine for yourself by combining the look of lemon squares with the exact taste of Frosted Mini Wheats. We finished in much less time than the locals, and we realized that this is a reflection of our American culture. The Greeks make an event out of dinner, and often take 2 hours or more to eat, regardless of the quantity of food. Apparently this extra time is subtracted from breakfast, because the only thing the locals seem to have that resembles breakfast is a pastry in hand on their way to work. Of course, this was fine by us, because it meant chocolate for breakfast today!

We are on our way to the Athens Archaeological Museum this afternoon, before catching a 9-hour ferry ride for Crete tonight. We will write again from there, and begin uploading the pictures we’ve taken. Hope everyone is well back home, and talk to you soon.

6 responses so far

Sep 06 2007

Quick note from London

Published by under London

We are sitting in Heathrow, having just paid more than $10 for an hour of wifi. Lesson one: London is expensive. Actually, lesson one was don’t cross the street outside of a crosswalk. This was learned when Ben was nearly pancaked by a double-decker bus.

We had a nine-hour layover in London, so we decided to leave the airport to explore a little, without any particular destination. If today is any indication, this trip will be a challenge for us novice explorers. We mostly wandered around looking confused. Also, I had to ask, “Uh, how does this work?” an embarrassing number of times. Who knows how we’ll fare where they don’t speak English.

Will post more details (and pictures!) when we arrive at our final destination.

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