Aug
02
Shop 'til You Drop

Today we decided to “do” the Plaka. The Caravel has a free shuttle to Syntagma Square that leaves on the hour, but we were ready to go at 10:15 so we made our own way. A €5 taxi is always an option, but we wanted to see the newly completed Metro.
We turned left out of the hotel and continued past Mikalakopoulou to Vass Sofias, where there’s a sculpture of glass that looks like a man running. We made a left there and walked about 2 blocks to Evangelismos Station. This is one of 3 Metro stations known for their archaeological displays. On the way down into the station we got to see part of a modern-looking, 2500 year-old drainage pipe, a bricklayer’s kiln, and a few other relics. The ticket machines were easy to use. It’s possible to buy a €2.90 all-day ticket that’s valid on busses and trolleys, but we stuck with the €0.70 one-way ticket that is valid for 90 minutes. We boarded the brand new train and rode just one stop to Syntagma Square. Before leaving the station we checked out its impressive archaeological display.
From the Metro station we crossed Amalias street onto Othonos and followed it as it turned into Mitropoleos. At the cathedral we made a left, although we found out later that we could have continued a few blocks if we wanted. We followed the back roads to Adrianou, one of the widest streets of the Plaka. I was originally told that Plaka meant plaza or square, but it’s really a lot of little streets in the old city that are supposed to be pedestrian only. The pedestrian part is loosely enforced, so especially on a wide street such as Adrianou you need to be on the lookout for the constant stream of motos. The Plaka is my wife’s–and probably every woman’s–dream come true. It is a continuous stretch of shops with leather, Greek statues, candles, T-shirts, etc. and etc. and etc. one more time. At the rate we went from store to store, I’m confident we could see the whole Plaka sometime before our grandkids cast their first votes, but part of Adrianou street was all we could manage in a day.
By the time we got to the Plaka, I had already consumed 1.5 liters of water to combat the 90° heat, but the street was shady enough that I wasn’t nearly as hot as I expected. Since I wasn’t sweating it out I needed to find a restroom sooner than I had planned. I wasn’t seeing any WC signs, but Ellen asked at a restaurant, and they let us use theirs. In case you’re in need, it’s on the corner of Adrianou and Thespidos streets across from the Eurobank. Walk inside, turn left, go downstairs and then turn right. It’s kind of a unisex setup with one stall for men, one for women, and shared sinks, so don’t be surprised to see men and women down there together. We wound up eating at the same restaurant about an hour later, and the food was good. They had an €11 menu with a gyro, salad, and beer/wine/coke, but you’d be just as well off with the €6.70 gyros from the menu and a €2 beer/wine/coke. Incidentally, if you’re counting your pennies, it’s a little cheaper to take away than to eat there. We finished up our shopping with a last minute stop on Mitropoleos where Ellen surprised me with an Athena tie-tac she’d been looking at earlier. Thanks!
We retraced our steps back to the Metro and then to the hotel. In case you think you’re saving a lot of time or distance, it seems like by the time you you’ve gone down into the station, walked down to the Red line, walked down again to Blue, taken the Metro 1 stop and then reversed the process to get back to street level you could have walked the whole way on the street. We thought it was worth it to see the archaeological displays and the immaculate stations. About a block away from the hotel, Ted #1 realized that they had left their camera at lunch. The helpful Orient Lines rep called the jewelry store across from the restaurant (where Joelle had bought something) and asked him to check for the camera. The camera was there, which took away a lot of the stress right away. A big “F. Harry’s Toe” (ΕΥΧΑΡΙΣΤΩ) to all involved in the recovery! Ted went the walking route to the restaurant but decided to take the Caravel’s free shuttle back to the hotel. He waited for a while in the rain (a brief sun shower) before deciding that the bus wasn’t coming. He walked the whole way back to us and is now taking a nap to get ready for their 3 am wakeup (ouch!) to fly home tomorrow. The shop where Ellen bought me the tie-tac, Hodjoupolous, recommended a restaurant near the hotel for outside dining. It’s called Krikélas (look for ΚΡΙΚΕΛΑΣ in Greek) and is on the same street as the supermarket (left out of the hotel, 1st left onto Antinoros). The temperature is much more pleasant at night here, and we’re looking for an enjoyable last supper in Greece!