I’ve said before, many times, that the best thing about Athens is the old centre – Monastiraki, Psiri, Plaka. I’ve been in Athens 3 weeks now (way longer than I planned) but I’ve finally been well enough to go out and that’s where I choose to go.
Monastiraki is full of shops selling everything a tourist could want (or not!). Psiri is full of cafes and bars and tavernas and cute little shops selling anything you can imagine. Clothes, power tools, rope, fresh fish or meat, nuts, fresh bread, antiques, high end jewellery, ice cream, shoes, army surplus… its just wonderful!
And having someone who knows the area is even better. Last night my cousin Peter showed me places only those in the know know about. Go down some stairs, through an arcade and through a non-descript door to a hidden bar here. Go up some stairs through an iron gate to a secret little cafe there. Even to the door of a little old lady who will cook you home made meals 3 nights a week using what she has in her fridge!
For me the beauty isn’t just the narrow streets and the shops and cafes with outdoor tables on the little squares, or the crowds of people from all over… its in the graffiti on the closed shop fronts and on the falling down neoclassical buildings which are slowly rotting away. The colours, the artwork (or lack of art) makes the place special.
Its the crumbling buildings and their junk shops next door to the restored buildings with expensive shops. Its all just right there, all mixed together.
There’s a real seedy side to the old centre of Athens, the homeless sleeping on pallet mattresses in alcoves they’ve converted into bedrooms, the tourists wandering around, the locals sitting at cafes drinking coffee. I mean, even the grungy dirty-ness of it is part of the experience.
And I love it. Which I never thought I would.
In fact, if I had the money and I didn’t have a home in Athens, I’d be tempted to buy an apartment in the old centre just for the times I come to Athens. Imagine it… I’d never need a car, the metro is right there, a short ride from the port of Pireaus or the airport. I’d never have to cook or have coffee at home, I’d just wake up and go downstairs and I’d have a million choices at my doorstep.
Sure. Its not clean. Or quiet. And a million light years from living in country Tasmania, but man… there’s just something about it!
But I have a home in Athens, so its not an option… still, I love going down and wondering around.
Today I met another cousin (I have plenty of them!) down there for a coffee and catch up and afterwards I gave in to the temptation to visit some of the many antique shops. Drool. I plan to visit them again once I’ve got a workshop and buy myself some stuff to restore and remake.
As it is I controlled myself. I bought some cotton threads cheaper than I could have got them in a sewing shop. I got some rope (not from an antique shop) to make another basket or two. And I got some chandelier crystals and a gorgeous antique plate.
I didn’t need the plate, given I don’t yet have a place to display it, but I couldn’t resist when the price became something I was willing to spend.
A pretty good morning actually. I’m definitely going down there next time I’m in Athens with a budget and a shopping list. I found sources for most of my junk4joy needs: cotton rope, leather, fabric, rusty stuff, upholstery goods, tools, beads… anything and everything.
Yeah. I like that place.
Meanwhile, on the other fronts what’s going on? Well, things are finally moving along on the purchase of the unit I’m buying. More details on that as things progress. And the car is now officially mine. I just gotta go pick it up in the morning, pay for the insurance and take it to the mechanic to get it serviced.
Cause apparently a service on Paros will cost a whole lot more than it will here.
To be honest, I’m ready to just go pick up the car and get the whole bloody thing over with. But given this whole adventure has cost me a ton more than I expected with no end in sight yet, I should go ahead and get it all done before returning to Paros… every penny saved…
Plans are that as long as the guy can do the service tomorrow I’ll go buy a ticket, pick up the car when its ready, pack it full whatever time I get it home and leave for Paros on Thursday morning. I just wanna get back to my life and my routine. As much as I love the city center I’ll be glad to leave Athens.
Just in time for the bad weather too. Till now its been glorious spring days (complete with itchy nose and sneezing) but now its overcast and drizzly with more to come. Wonderful.
It was bound to happen. Then again, summer will be here soon enough and cool weather will be a distant memory.
Things are falling into place. A car, a job, a home… Hopefully once I’m back and into a routine again the stress will abate and my digestive system will get back into line. I’m over feeling ‘not quite right’ and having a permanent cold.
Disclaimer: none of the images are mine. They’re just great ones I found on the internet.