Still not over the colds, but Sunday was a relaxing day of sun and laying around and just walking around a bit. We walked over to old fort on the point to see the fabled sunset, and it was very nice. We were having a difficult time finding the restaurant recommended by our host, so instead tried a place nearby called "Papgalou" which was absolutely wonderful and not overly Greek or touiristy - so good we went back the next night.
We had intended to explore the island on Monday by car, but discovered that most of the sites were closed on Mondays. So we set off on Tuesday and walked around the main town of Fira - we think there are more jewelry stores and tourist traps per meter here than anywhere else we've seen. They lie in wait for the cruise ship passengers. We did the the Museum of Ancient Thira in town - lots of the frescoes from the Minoan excavations are here. We then drove to the southern part of the island to see Ancient Thira (Minoan, ~2000 BC) itself, sitting way up on a rugged mountain - you can walk or drive up. We drove up the 2 kilometer, twisting, winding (hairpin turns), steep, and very narrow cobblestone road, only wide enough in some places for one car (never mind a bus - no guard rails, and long, long drop-off). After miraculously surviving that, we got there and walked up a steep hill to the entrance. It was 2:25 PM, but the lady who didn't speak much English refused to let us and some others in, because there was no more entry after 2:30!!! She obviously wanted to go home in an hour or sooner. We were quite upset!
Anne was coughing a lot by now. We left for the Santorini airport on Friday morning to catch our flight to Athens. The airport was pretty small, but we were lucky in terms of beating a big tour group to the check-in, and finding a place to sit in the departure area. We were taking out to the plane by buses. The plane was a 737, and it was a short, comfortable flight. The Athens airport is quite world-class, and we took a taxi into Athens on a regular expressway. Our hotel, the Eridanus, has a magnificent view of the Acropolis from our top-floor room, and the Acropolis is lighted up quite spectacularly at night. Our bed is one of the best so far!
This morning, our first goal was to find a pharmacy to get medicine for Anne's cough and Tom's lingering congestion and tearing eyes. They spoke good English in the second pharmacy we tried, and unlike the United States, handed Anne an antibiotic and some nasal spray, and Tom got something for his eyes with an antibiotic in it too.
Now we were equipped for touring and walked to the Ancient Agora (marketplace) and then up to the Acropolis. Once there, the monuments were stunning! What an experience to actually see them, and see the numbered pieces used in past and future reconstructions. The Parthenon on the Acropolis is probably the most awesome, but there are many runner-ups, including the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. There is a small museum tucked into the hill up there in order to be unobtrusive, which had many other excavated statuary. We walked back to the hotel with tired but happy feet.
Tom's Athens Odyssey - or mental pictures in a city of contrasts.
We needed more cold medications and the pharmacy had closed for the afternoon to reopen at 5:30PM. I set out looking for a big supply of Halls cough drops, Kleenex, a candy bar and a cough medicine.
As I retraced our steps from the morning I observed the shops along the narrow roads and alleys. I passed a store with a wild, red, curvy sofa balanced on the curb and obstructing the sidewalk. The inside of the store had other more conservative pieces. Juxtaposition to the sofa was a row of used rotary push lawn mowers in the next shop. Down a rather busy street, there were shops producing metal parts in large sheets of steel. The interior of these shops was grubby with decades of accumulated dirt. A workman hefted two 10 foot sections of duct pipe and added it to his truck. Chimney vents revolved on display on the curb of the shop. I then wandered down a narrow alley and vendor upon vendor had merchandise that could only be described as "flea-market." Musty books, old pictures with broken glass in the frames, posters, toys, junk lined both sides of the street that was only wide enough for the ubiquitous motor scooters to pass. I kept turning and turning down streets and alley-ways searching for a normal store to buy a box of Kleenex, but to no avail. This was the Athens market where you could get anything you wanted that was old, broken or rare. I even saw an array of ancient radio tubes in an electronics store! I had come to a modern city that had more than ruins of the Parthenon on its display of antiquity.