It's a sweltering, steamy day today, 35 C with the heat beating on the paements increasing the temperature.( Yes, I know, you peole at home are freezing in the rain!) You learn to walk in the shade, wherever you can find it. Fortunately most stores have a stoa so y ou are able to walk under the shelter or you can pop into air-conditioned tourist shops to cool off. When I got off the bus at the Zappeion I decided to walk through the shaded gardens which was a pleasant retreat from the burning pavements. The Zappeio was built in the 1870's and is used as an exibition or convention hall. I passed by the beauitful statue of Byron in the arms of Greece just outside the gardens and remembered that I'd intended to visit Messalonghi this trip, where Byron died, but again I'll have to put that plan on hold. It's always good to have a new destination saved for another time.
Eventually made my way to the Acropolis Taverna for lunch and had a friendly chat and hugs from Ari the waiter. The Acropolis is right by the Roman Agora where there is to be a concert tonight. After lunch I used one of my site ticket to take a look around (not too much to see there but I wanted some updated photos with my digital.) There's the well-preserved Tower of the Winds (1st C BC) which functioned as a sundial, weather vane, water clock and compass. But my favorite place is the public latrine, a square foundation with toilet seat grooves and conduits to dispose of wste. Those Romans thought of everything!
Later I was walking through Plaka and stopped in a dava to buy some kitron. The proprietor immediately exclaimed that he knew me, and remembered from when I lived on Vironos Street. One of the Dirty Corner gang, Madame Eleni, a woman from Chicago, used to work at his jewellery shop. Eleni died a few years go of cancer. We spoke about her and about all the other friends like Roberto and Graham who have passed on. And I said "yes, and I'm still h ere!" and he laughed and said "You have at least another hundred years!" One thing I appreciate about the Greeks is they don't forget you - or is it because I was so notorious!
Stopped by the TKA (another oasis in the heat) and learned a neew fact about Anna and family when I overheard Dino telling someone that his family had 2000 olive trees in the Peloponnese.
When I returned home mid afternoon I did what any sensible Greek does, had a siesta. It's only mad dogs and Englishmen who go out in the midday sun, as they say.
Mangus, the self-appointed watch dog was laid out on the hall floor on the cool tiles with a water dish at his nose. Later on, he'll go out and Rei, the other dog will come for his shift and turn of attention. When I first came to Greece there was a huge problm with packs of stray and wild dogs who roamed the city. They usually were not dangerus and only wanted human company and often when I'd be going home late at night, a small pack of them would escort me to my door. But a lot of these strays were in bad shape and horribly abused and often poison would be put out to get rid of them. (Robbie's first introduction to Athens was seeing some boys drown a dog in the fountain at Syntagma Square.)
Now the Hellenic Humane Society has a very good plan in force. Strays are gathered up, if in bad shape they are euthanized, otherwise they are neutered, given their shot, de-feaded and de-wormed, groomed and fed on a daily basis. Each of them are given a collar and tags with their name and "Registered Stray". Many of these dogs have been house pets who were abandoed by their owners. Such is the case of Rei and Mangus. Both are well trained, obedient and gentle, understanding comands in Greek. Rei is gentle giant, probably part golden Lab; Mangus is a handsome mottled fellow who is possibly part collie. Both of them hve become the 'adopted' watch dogs of Christina and Daniella. They take turns parking on the front porch, get invited in for a cool quiet sleep in the hall and sometimes inch their way right to the courtyard. They'll spend a little time indoors then leave to roam Philoppapou Hill nearby. Mangus even showed up at my birthday party on the Pnyx!
The cats here have also been tended to and there aren't so many of them as there used to be because they too, are colleced up, spayed and then released. And there's an organization of people who see they are fed and treated humanely.
Now, I'm writing in the courtyard, enjoying a snack and glass of rather tart wine. Browsed through tthe "Athens News" to see what's happening in the world and city. Al Gore made a big hit here last week with his "An Inconvenient Truth"' Bush has pissed off the Greeks by visiting Albania and encouraging them to enter into NATO; FYROM has further antagoniszed Greece by naming their new airport "The Alexander the Great Airport." What nerve! They have absoslutely no claim on the name. Macedonia is Greece! (The Greeks object to Skopje's use of the name Macedonia on the grounds that it constitutes an expropriation of the name of the Greek province which was Alexander's birth place and centre of the Macedonian dynasty. Skophje is aso accused of violating the 1995 interim agreement under whichthe name FYROM is to be used i all international organizations.
Jordan made Greecehappy by rescinding a decision revoking recognition of Patriarch Theophilos ending a crisis in the patriachrate which is custodian of Christianty's holist shrined and one of the largest landholders in Israel and the Holy Land.
Meanwhile, the Greek relatives of Nazi victims of WWII scored a victory in their decade long battle fo force Germany to pay reparations, successfully bringing their case to Italy making a legal claim on a German owned villa near Lake Como. And Amnsest Int. blasts Greece for failing to protect immigrant women and children from sexual predators and calls on the gov't to overhaul anti-traffic legislation. There are about 14,000 victims in Greece at any given time. These are mostly girls and women from Eastern Europe who are lured here under flase pretenses. AND THAT'S THE ATHENS NEWS!
NEXT: A Day at the Beach and a little Drama!