Account of travels across the world. This blog provides descriptions of travels in different parts of the world. Pictures related to many of the blogs can be found at http://www.flickr.com/photos/7330879@N05/ and for more information I can be e-mailed at ananda@wfu.edu

Saturday, May 01, 2004

The next day in Athens which was April 11, a Sunday, we rented a car, a Hyundai, and took to the roads. I had studied the Athens map very carefully and thus had the idea that we had to get towards Pireus the port to get on the way by the coast to Sounio the place where they had the temple of Poseidon. The drive was very nice, we stopped on the way for gas as well as to take in the sights of the Aegean sea. There were small towns on the way and then we eventually got to the point we wanted to. The temple was composed of relics of old Greek civilization. We spent some time there and then on our way back stopped and had lunch at a neighborhood Greek restaurant where no one spoke any English and thus we ended up ordering some weird food. Bebo and Mkku ate shrimp and I had lamb. Then on the way back we also saw a gruesome accident and finally we got back after an expresso and tea stop. Took Synorgiu Avenue back into town and eventually reached the hotel OK without any brushes with the police unlike in Lisbon where I was almost arrested for breaking some obscure driving laws related to not stopping at a traffic light when it was red! We ordered room service and called it a day.
The next day

This was the Monday and we had a tour set up. However, here is the actual events around that day, worthy of note based on e-mail sent around that time:

Things have been fine so far. We took a day trip to see the temple of Poseidon by the sea. It is a good 2 hour drive, and you know me, I drive anywhere. Had an old Hyundai stick shift Accent. Seemed cool. Greeks drive like maniacs and I am trained in Calcutta and so it takes a lot lot to bother me. It was cool, although we witnessed an upside down car with the dead driver by the car. Had an espresso after that to cool the nerves. These espressos are good. The road was windy, and by the sea and I enjoyed the drive. Swati was a little concerned, but hey, have car will go! Interestingly this is one country where I was not stopped by the police (Austria: yes, UK: yes mate, Poland: yes, Portugal: yes, India: yes, Germany: yes; Finland; yes, mostly for speeding all over, India for jumping a stop light, and Wales for an accident) but I am still supposed to be driving when we get to the island. But that would be a scooter with Srijoy in the back so that should be cool.

Among other highlights, we are in a hotel which is currently housing the trainees for the Olympics including the team from Israel. As I compose this e-mail I am sitting in the hotel lobby with a Mossad person (he said he was from Mossad, and it is not too difficult to see the shoulder-holster) and the team is on our floor. So there is a Mossad (Israeli secret service) agent at the elevator at our floor 24/7 and short of checking IDs he is doing everything to creep me out. We had a talk in the lounge and I made it clear that I am both Indian and American and we are friends with Israel. But I will tell you these guys look tough and our floor in Greece is either the target of Arab attack or the safest floor in Athens now. I know the Mossad are good and so I am happy. Now, lets see, do I plan these things? Same hotel as Bush in Warsaw, same hotel as Putin in Delhi and now some members of the Israeli, Thai and Japanese Olympic teams in Athens. Not a bad track record. Oh, but did I mention the Iraqi taxi driver in Dubai a few years ago who was pissed because I was American and our bombs from papa Bush killed his son and destroyed his hotel in Baghdad and so he was driving taxis in Dubai. But I forget, Ghazi Khan, of Multan, Pakistan, who was our taxi driver in London last Friday and he made much of how Pakistan and India ought to be friends because the Indian army can cream Pakistan any day and Kargil is not worth the battle. However, feelings in Athens about the USA is not too cool with graffiti in front of the US embassy clearly stating "f*** USA" and "f*** Bush. (got pictures of that too)" Our hotel is in the same block as the US embassy in Athens.

I was also surprised to see that most Greeks do not speak English. However, to camouflage ourselves we have quit speaking English and have conversed successfully in Bengali. These people definitely do not like Americans! Even Srijoy got that (the tour bus operator today was so pissed with how loud the Yanks were talking that eventually told us "Oh these Americans) and Srijoy is speaking Bangla too (softly)! It is amazing how many people understand Bengali (Just kidding, but we are getting by!!) Well so much for now. This now is creepy, here in the lobby as I write, two Mossad persons are talking with Greek secret police (in English and this I understand) about how to secure the floor we are on!

So much from Athens now, and more later...ananda

The Monday we took the bus tour. The bus picked us from the hotel and drove us to the central square called Syntagm and from there we proceeded to see some of the main highlights of Athens including the old Olympic stadium and then we went to the temple of Olympia. These were essentially ruins too but to be faced with 3000 years of history is pretty daunting. The bus tour then went on to the Acropolis which is the location of the Parthenon.

posted by Ananda  # 6:47 PM


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