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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Another day in Athens

Waiting for lunch
J wrote thoroughly about the places we saw on our second day in Athens on his blog; I’ll add the family bits here. The bus from Rafina was late so we had a delayed start to our day, and went straight to lunch in a café just off Monastraki Square. Lunch included moussaka (eggplant, potato, spiced ground meat, topped with a creamy béchamel sauce), a plateful of gyro and souvlaki (kebabs), tzatziki (yogurt and cucumber), bread, pita, and meatballs and potatoes for the kids. The generous portions of hearty food filled us well for a day of walking around Athens.

Sitting on the steps of the Stoa of Attalos in the Ancient Agora
Ancient Agora
We strolled through the flea market and the Ancient Agora, expecting L2 to fall asleep in the stroller. No luck, so we headed toward the Parthenon Museum, and L2 finally fell asleep on the way. One of my favorite parts of the day was walking by the Odeon Theater where a street musician (of which there are many around central Athens) played “Never on a Sunday” on a violin. The song won an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1960 for a film of the same name, in which an important scene takes place at the Odeon. The weather turned blustery while L1 had his portrait drawn by a street artist. The artist took about 40 minutes to draw his portrait; have you ever tried to keep a 3-year old still and quiet on your lap for 40 minutes? Later, we passed another artist advertising portraits done in just 5 minutes; we’ll know where to go to get L2’s portrait drawn.

L1 having his portrait drawn 
By the time L1’s portrait was done, L2 was awake; the afternoon was wearing on, and the weather getting worse. We had promised to go to a playground at the National Gardens, and so we skipped the Parthenon Museum (for the moment). L1 was very tired, switched places with L2 in the stroller, and fell asleep. He awoke just in time for the playground. At the end of a good run around the playground, L1 found several bits of colored paper streamers and tied them together to make a “kite” which he proudly carried all the way home. We splurged on a taxi home instead of the metro because it was late and still chilly by the time we left the playground. L1 and L2 giggled and screeched all the way in the taxi. I don’t know if they gave the taxi driver a headache, but I figured it was better than crying, which was a distinct possibility given the late hour and how tired and hungry the kids were.
L2 in the National Gardens on the way to a playground

We have only seen a fraction of the things we planned to see; I'm looking forward to another trip to Athens next week.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Bits and pieces of daily life

Our neighborhood playground. We are usually the only ones there.
What is the kids’ view of Greece? They notice everything, but focus on the small details within their grasp and understanding. It is hard to take a walk with L2 because he wants to sit on every step, touch every wall, and pick up every rock. Rocks are great. Rocks, water, and a bowl to put them in are THE BEST whether in Greece or back home. Dogs and cats (of which there are many), and airplanes are exciting and merit an exclamation whenever they are spotted. Playgrounds don’t have to be fancy to be fun.

L2 with a bowl of rocks collected from the driveway.

Greek playgrounds (at least the ones within walking distance from our house) close from 2-6pm. For me, these are prime times when I want to get the kids out of the house to run off their energy. I understand this is the time people here take a break; most shops are closed. But come on! I have yet to figure out if Greek children follow this quiet afternoon and late bedtime schedule too. We’ve seen very few children at the playgrounds.

The Greek people are generally very friendly, especially toward children. Everyone we pass by smiles at them and says hello. Many old men have come up to pinch L2’s cheek. L2 is not impressed.

The Magic Garden, a nice playground and coffee shop just around the corner from our house.

L1 is picking up a few words of Greek: hello, thank you, and dog.

In Greek,  “good morning” is “kali mera.” Jim, passing an old Greek lady dressed in black, politely said, “kalamari.”

L2 is having an (English) language explosion. He has added a new word to his vocabulary every day for about a week. New words include “cold” (he knew “hot” previously), cookies, bath, hat, and keys.

Next time: another excursion to Athens.