Thursday, 22 October 2009

First taste - Athens

The mountains hunched in close as the black sky fell down. Pink crackle glaze lightning split the clouds, then the hail started, as big as gobstoppers.

Mid-morning darkness. My first taste of Athens.

The airport bus was a metal drum speeding along free flow on a road turned into a gushing river. It was going to be this sort of a day.

In the hour it took us to hurtle into the city, the rain had eased enough for an outdoor lunch which I think we might have chased into town.

Warm enough for shirtsleeves, it was still a day good for strolling and dodging the rain. Boy after boy tried to sell us umbrellas we didn't want. I didn't want anything to spoil the view. I loved stumbling upon ancient ruins caught up in the modern push and shove of the city, some of them looking as prominent as wedding cakes, others still falling down, but drawing all eyes and cameras.

And in the worst of the rain, a little refuge in the entrance hall of a tube station where they display what they found when they were digging the train tunnels. Hard to grasp how old some of these pieces are.

Street dogs lounged at each tourist hub, lazy among the international crowds. One slept on the welcome mat of the best hotel in town, right at home. Windows of Byzantium supply shops revealed hidden caves of silver treasure, throne-like chairs and candelabras.

Glass cabinet saints were kissed outside churches before Friday night mass. Candles fizzed under the drizzle shroud of trees sheltering skinny cats. An elderly woman in black swept up dry leaves on the steps, chatted away on her mobile phone.

Red fleshed plums tasted like heaven. Fish on the market were displayed as if in mid flip, on ice. A flower market stayed open late into the night. And on every street, shoe shop after shoe shop. Not sure these would have been right for today.

Click here to see a billboard shot from my previous post. Thanks to Leslie, Rose and Robyn for having a guess at where I was.

Will do another Athens post soon with more shots.