Blogging from…

…an online gaming center in Nafplio, Peloponnese, Greece.

Brief updates: getting-out-of-Israel security was unnecessarily long and complicated. I didn’t realize it mattered what shul I went to when I was leaving the country. But we manage, miraculously, somehow, to leave, get on the plane half asleep (6 am flights are not so fun), land in Athens, metro, get lost on the way to our hostel, find it, and pass out for five hours. Initial wanderings around Athens led to tourist traps and steep, crooked, narrow hillside stairways and road, simultaneously quaint and graffitied pastel homes, old Greek men cooking dinner in their windows, and views of the city from above and the Acropolis from below.

At the top of the mountain, bought a “cigarette” and had it rolled for 4 euro…and bad Greek weed is still better than Israeli weed. Thanks to Adonis and Stefanos and the top of the hill in the Plaka, Athens. Post-joint, mountainside restaurant for dinner with a kilo of homemade red wine, garlic bread, salad, and some fried zucchini balls…did I mention the homemade red wine? So far a trend in this country, and not one I am upset about in any way.

Next day: decide to tour some of the “old shit” in Athens because, well, that’s what there is to do there. Acropolis workers on strike (I love this, Hillary is none too thrilled), meander downhill to avoid payment of “seeing old shit” fees. Watercolors and street music leads to the seedy part and, eventually, furniture artisans and old 45s for sale. French press, spanakopita, and a loaf of bread from the bakery. Metro and bus, forgot to pay but avoided the 60x charge for riding without a validated ticket (karma!). Bus to Nafplio via one-hour traffic jam, Corinth, beautiful mountains and farm-filled valleys. A minor miracle this bus could make these sharp turns on these narrow roads.

Again, get lost finding the hotel/pension/guesthouse. But after several probably very expensive phone calls with the owners, we find our way through the old city down tiny side alley to our charming hillside guesthouse. Vassilly is the house mother, an excited hostess eager to give us anything we need in our snug room (but it has a bathroom!)…all for the low low price of 40 euro/night.

Some more wandering, “small fish” for dinner which I did not realize until my plate appeared that this meant, literally, a plate full of fried small fish – think minnows. Despite my initial shock I thoroughly enjoyed pulling them apart with my fingers to pull out the spines, and it satisfied my cravings for seafood in this picturesque, if touristy, port town.

Search for dessert led to dark chocolate-chili sorbet at the best (no lie) gelato place I have ever been to, according to the guidebook best in Greece. Sat on the pier and dipped my toes in the sea and missed Portland.

This morning: French press, greek yogurt (Fage is actually Greek), tomato, bread, on the landing outside with sounds of a lazy morning on the Mediterranean. Wandered up and down, along old battlements at the top of the hill on the peninsula. Churches, alleys, balconies, flowers, sunshine and breeze. A lunch of Greek salad and lamb in the pot, topped off with a boat ride to a castle on an island, a second round of gelato (dark chocolate sorbet for me), an espresso, and an afternoon flash flood thunderstorm.

Feta, check. Fish, check. Olive oil, check. Lamb, check. What else do I need from Greece?

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One thought on “Blogging from…

  1. I took a seminar in “law and literature” at law school here in Portland, and made maybe the one counterstrike on a professor in retaliation for the three years of absorbing, as we say, their strikes of inanity and conniving (“winking”) at, and actual conduct of, evil. This guy, whose specialty was international law and was my faculty advisor, not that I sought any advice on how to suck up (or suck up more gracefully, for the advanced learners)–he gave me one lecture about his son the law student and we called it quits–tried to lay down a scene of Ancient Athens in which people were all psychotic and/or recovering from tourist jaunts and so we could discount all their psychedelic poetry about guilt and nemesis as Neanderthal ravings. Socrates lived 470-403 BCE, or so, and Homer, was he eighth century–Wiki: The scholarly consensus is that “the Iliad and the Odyssey date from the extreme end of the 9th century BC or from the 8th, the Iliad being anterior to the Odyssey, perhaps by some decades,”[3] i.e. somewhat earlier than Hesiod,[4] and that the Iliad is the oldest work of Western literature. Ah, the drug-ravaged minds of the Ancients–or else their brains hadn’t developed enough to make proper television fare.
    So I brought in a map from an historical atlas showing the distribution of Greek (and Phoenician) trading colonies from Gibraltar to the Black Sea as of, well, it’s “750-550 BC”. Let me say they were as ubiquitous then as Coca Cola is today. Do they sell Pepsi in the Mediterranean? The colored fringings of coastlines signifying “Greek influence” are very extensive, at least fifty percent of the coastline from the Syrian-Turkish corner all the way around the Black Sea across to eastern Spain. They skipped the Dalmatian coast and the “ankle and calf” of Italy. The Phoenicians carried on down Spain and up its Atlantic side, took up on (disappear off the map edge in) western Africa, up around Gibraltar and across to “Tripolis”, then there was a blip of Greek activity across from Italy, and finally the Phoenicians had their home base in the Holy Land. The two cultures shared Crete, Sicily and Sardinia. The Carthaginians were late Phoenicians.
    So it turns out Homer was proper television fare, like All in the Family and The Cosby Show were for our own late-Vietnam era and American Idol for the Global War on Terror years. The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, 1967-9 (when “banned” (Wiki), one show left unaired), was a regrettable exception to our otherwise mentally-hygenic public recreational information service provision during those late-pre-terror years. All was proper television fare Except for these regrettable references to guilt and nemesis.
    So what is missing from your report is a reflection on visiting the birthplace of democracy, unless you’re being highly ironic. Sort of like Obama saying there are terrorists in those hills who murdered three thousand Americans. He knew nobody was taking him seriously, so he allowed himself to deadpan it. Ha, ha, ha. Kaboom, drooooone, kaboom, drooooone, kaboom. Ha, ha, ha.
    This would be really funny philosophical stand-up comedy, to paraphrase Obama in the Game Change book (inside front cover), if we weren’t in the middle of it.
    Guilt. Ha, ha, ha. Nemesis. Ha, ha, ha.
    It’s just a trading colony. What’s the harm in it?

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