Yesterday we were a little disappointed in Athens, today she redeemed herself. We decided to spend one of our two days doing the Parthenon and Acropolis tour, and the other day exploring the city including the market and a couple of districts that are supposed to have interesting stores and restaurants. Since today is pretty grey and Sunday is supposed to be better we decided to do the city exploration today.
After breakfast we punched in the location of a spice store Ton wanted to visit and headed out on foot. Our route took us down the same wide boulevard as yesterday. Since it was Saturday it was a little less busy and loud than yesterday. After we passed by the turn to the Acropolis we found ourselves in a nice part of town full of interesting shops and tourist oriented stores. This area made a much nicer impression than yesterday.
Ton was in her element as there was an eclectic mix of specialized food stores, spice stores, bakeries, and cafes. I had to walk behind her so I wouldn’t lose her when something interesting got her attention. It took us about 2 hours to cover 1 km of shops before we arrived at Fotsi spice store.
The streets were busy but not overwhelming with Greeks slightly outnumbering the tourists. We also found the people watching interesting as there were an exceptional amount of very fit people walking around because of the Athens Marathon tomorrow.
The highlight of the day turned out to be the central market. These are always one of Tons favorite places, and the Athens market is one of the best ones we have visited. There were endless meat stalls with each stall specializing in a certain type of meat. The fish part of the market was also impressive. The market is not an architectural marvel or at all posh, it is a working market that local people come to for their meat, fish and vegetables.
Ton told me a fun story from her last trip to Athens. She was traveling with a Thai classmate when they went into a meat market and saw sheep heads on display along with the rest of the sheep. They were a little grossed out, until they remembered that in the markets in Thailand pigs were displayed exactly the same way as the Greeks displayed sheep, including the heads.
We ended the visit to the market with a great meal at a seafood restaurant, we ordered a fish soup and a small mixed plate of fish. We could not begin to finish our small mixed plate, and could only wonder what the large plate looked like.
Our last stop of the day was a tourist shop to get Ton a hoodie she had been thinking about all day. She rarely buys anything in these shops but we had stopped earlier in the day and after mulling it over decided to splurge. While we were in the shop three American women came in to buy a sweatshirt they were featuring for the Athens Marathon tomorrow that said “Finisher” on it. One of the American women was Greek-American and fluent in Greek. One of the other women asked if they could embroider “Finisher” in Greek on the sweatshirt. This started a conversation between the Greek-American and the two Greeks in the shop, it went on for a while and the Greek-American women finally confessed that the three of them could not come up with a direct translation of “Finisher” in Greek, the closest they could come up with in Greek was “I finished it”. The American friend said that was not quite the same thing, when her Greek-American friend pointed out to her that no one but her was going to be able to read it anyway so she could translate it any way she wanted. I enjoyed this lesson in linguistic nuance and couldn’t help but smile as Ton walked out with her sweatshirt that also said “Finisher” on it.