Week 713

Sunday, 21st August, 2022

Up early for Gatwick North Long Stay Carpark. When we get there nothing has to be done. Number Plate Recognition does it all automatically. … Flight left just 20 mins late and was comfortable. We were in Row-1 which means on & off early. I took a shot of the cockpit while we were on the runway.  Looks like my Office with files and  Post-It notes.

Didn’t realise how lovely not needing to wait for luggage can be. Straight out for a taxi although there was a bit of a queue there. In the centre of Athens and our hotel in just over 30 m ins. Lovely greeting from the hotel staff and a nice suite for our stay. Bottle of wine on the table. Present for Pauline – scented candle – and  everything ready for a happy stay.

Too hot to go out walking so we drank wine on the balcony with some crisps. I did go down to the Gym for an hour or so. Hadn’t really slept much in the past 24 hrs so quite tired.

Went out for Dinner but tiredness and too much wine meant we walked home and went to bed, crashing out immediately and not waking until … 7.30 am. Well it is 5.30 am in UK time.

Monday, 22nd August, 2022

So not up until 7.30 am just in time for the BBC Radio 4 Today programme at 8.00 am/6.00 am. Outside it is already 28C/86F and very humid. Tea and morning housekeeping – checking calendar – Mum’s 99th birthday today – emails, Twitter feed, Bank Account, Covid Survey, etc.. Didn’t really want Breakfast but felt obliged. Now contemplating a lazy -ish first day.

Ancient Athens?

First an 11 mile walk. The route we took last November around the base of the Acropolis in 22C was much harder this morning in 35C. Much harder and busier. Love the sound of cicadas. Takes me back to our Greek home. It is an essential soundtrack to the Mediterranean. The strange thing is that I don’t think I have ever seen a cicada even though they filled the island air with their noise in the baking hot, Greek Summer

Even went in to a dress shop. A dress shop! An actual, physical dress shop!! Not an online order. I went with it and was happy to agree with my wife that the dress was 1. Too big; 2. Too short; 3. Too heavy; 4. Too cheap (looking). Result! Saved 25 Euros!

I’ve been allowed to watch Man. Utd. beat Liverpool tonight. The only problem is that kick off wasn’t until 10.00 pm Greek Time and didn’t finish much before midnight. I am quite happy as a night owl but Pauline isn’t. Her friend, Christine, has been chatting to me during the match and Kevin contacted me to talk about what we’d watched in different countries over 1000 miles apart. Good fun. Like the banter.

Tuesday, 23rd August, 2022

Went to bed at 1.00 am and woken at 6.00 am by my phone. Not a minute to lose when you’re 71! Monitoring the Athens Airport arrivals. Early out in 29C/85F. Actually, it is quite a while since we were here in August. The overnight temperature didn’t fall below 26C/79F. Thank goodness for air conditioning.

We went out for an early walk and went past this Hotel Omiros. It is in Apollonos Street and over 40 years ago, we stayed here on our first trip to Athens when it was called Hotel Aphrodite. Hard to believe we stayed in this budget hotel in 1981.

Aphrodite was a 3* hotel and suited our poor teacher budget in those days. As we became more affluent, we progressed to the 4* Hotel Electra and, in the past 20 years, we’ve been enjoying the 5* Electra Palace graduating from an ordinary room to a suite of rooms. Wherever we’ve been, we have stared out on this, unchanging scene of a huge outcrop of rock on which the Acropolis stands. We know it so well but, 40 years on, suddenly realised that a head emerges from the rock.

It was so humid today that walking was hard. My shirt was so heavy by the time I got back to the hotel that rivulets of water were everywhere – not a pleasant sight! We spent the afternoon in the gym and swimming although all our good work was undone by time spent on the balcony with a lovely, ice cold bottle of Tsantali Makedonikos from Northern Greece.

Really tired today. Had to use mind over matter to get things done. Pauline thinks I’m mad anyway. I am, of course, but in a nice way. Spoke to an old friend of the Blog who we knew in Greece and haven’t seen for almost 10 years now. Tonight we’re going to eat Dinner at an old favourite restaurant – To Paradosiako (Evgenia) We’ll compare it with our new discoveries.

Wednesday, 24th August, 2022

Lovely start to the day. Early and very light breakfast. Out for a walk around the base of the Acropolis.

Ancient James Joyce Pub/Restaurant
Returned my Library Book today.

It is a route I have taken many times but there is always something new to see. Took about 2 hrs. I was soaking by the end of it and needed a shower and a change of clothes. Coffee in our Suite and a chat with the lovely Romanian cleaners. Conversation with Kevin – more serious than the normal banter. Some home truths.

Contacted by John Morris who is my age. He is about to receive a second hip replacement. He is also about to have a second serious melanoma removed and has a serious problem with diabetic retinopathy which meant he lost his driving licence. Also contacted by David Roberts who has Prostate Cancer at my age. He is going with John Ridley to visit John Holden from my year who is living in Sheltered Accommodation. Hearing all of this, I feel incredibly lucky to be in my current position.

Just as we were preparing to sit in the sun with a bottle of wine, thunder & lightning struck again from nowhere. We watched Netflix with our wine. Later I went in the Gym while Pauline swam … until lightning struck the local power distribution unit and rendered half of Athens dead and in darkness. My treadmill jolted instantly to a halt. In the pool, Pauline was left in total darkness. It took 20 mins of darkness before the power came back on. Julie contacted me while I was waiting and I had time to do Wordle and send my result to Mandy in Florida.

Thursday, 25th August, 2022

Had a weird dream last night. Kevin and I talked quite a bit yesterday. Previously, Chris had sent me the August 1972 Wedding photo and Kevin mused on what it would be like to reassemble the people 50 years on. Last night, I was woken by a knock on the door as the cast of Kevin’s wedding photo traipsed through and assembled on the balcony of our Suite

I was not as cool in my reaction as I would have liked. Mind you, nor were they. Still, it was not a normal moment.

An early breakfast this morning before the walk. If I never eat another breakfast for the rest of my life, I will be happy. Never give me bacon & eggs for the next 50 years!

A breakfast to fuel the day.

Breakfast is in the rooftop terrace and the buffet has everything known to man plus many things that aren’t. One is encouraged to over eat.

Early morning below the Acropolis.

After a session in the Gym/Pool this afternoon, I did my husbandly duty and went clothes shopping for an hour or so. Nothing was chosen. Nothing was bought. Everything ended OK.

We went out to our all time favourite restaurant in Athens and had Moussaka with Peas & Artichokes. White wine and goats cheese to finish. Wonderful. Quite tired tonight. I’ve walked 13 miles which has been quite draining.

Friday, 26th August, 2022

A lovely day which started with a light(er) breakfast overlooking a lovely view of the Acropolis …

View from the Electra Palace Hotel
Exceeding the Target

…  and advanced to a 2hr walk which took us down through the Plaka to Odos Apostolou Pavlou. We walk on to MonastirakiErmouMitropoleos and Nikis Street.

The walk takes us just over two hours. Today it was done at 10.00 in the morning in 30C. By the time we’ve finished, my shirt is heavier than me and that’s saying something. A cup of coffee in our hotel suite and then to the basement. Pauline in the Pool and me in the Gym. Just 90 mins now and I’ve fulfilled my commitment for the day. That means I have completed 11 miles walking this morning and I am exhausted. 

Today I’ve had contact with lots of old friends. I’m surprised how happy it makes me. Nigel sent me a photo to prove he’s added to his skills. As I said to him, he never swept our flat in 1971. He pointed out that no one swept our flat in 1971 which I had to acknowledge. 

Julie sent a photo of her first sunflower. North Yorkshire becomes South of France … for a day. Kevin and I exchanged banter about the events of our lives across the past 50 years. He thinks he has expertise in Greek culture. He doesn’t but I’ve let him delude himself. Contact from across the years really moves me although I’m soft like that.

Feel really happy and optimistic tonight. Everything is possible. I’ve always believed it. Life can be so good!

Saturday, 27th August, 2022

Lovely, hot morning. As we walked out around 9.00 am, the temperature was 30C and the battle began. As we walk through narrow, Athenian streets, we enjoy the temporary cool of the shade before emerging in to the furnace again.

Temporary cool of the shade!

We are quite early and many tavernas are touting for the Breakfast business. Under the foot of the Acropolis, traders are setting up their tawdry stalls selling jewellery, fake antiques, busking and begging. What a hard, cheap life! Even so, tourists seem to fall for it every day.

Gold Straw (wheat) Jewellery – Handmade

Just as I am tiring and thinking I’m getting to the end, there is Monastiraki and mayhem to negotiate.

Fruit seller outside Monastiraki Metro Station

When we do get back and have coffee, my legs begin to seize up. I have to move them again soon and go down to the Gym. Pauline swims for 40 mins and I use the treadmill for 90 mins by which time I am dead. Today, I am juggling my phone on the treadmill as Kevin wants to talk.

Back from the Gym, I peel my shirt off and wring it out. The joy of a shower.

%d bloggers like this: