Phew, good to get that win under our belts eh! We streamed live from a Greek taverna, riding the tries and sin bins of the game, with Maia sporting a new self-styled cut for the occasion (a liiiiiittle bald patch from too much ‘evening it out’. He looked like one of my Barbies circa 1996). Go ahead and grab a cuppa as I take you through Athens, Delphi, and Paxos with me.
The port of Piraeus was our key to Athens. Arriving in the dark, weary from a labored and wavy ferry ride, we entered a city of contrasts – a place of both grandeur and decay, faith and despondency, organization and dysfunction.
Although not unique in its problems, the transparency of Athens’ social issues was confronting. Queuing for bus information, a small girl with a snotty nose and hungry eyes touched my hands but broke my heart as she begged for cents. We passed communes of homeless, pushing possessions in shopping trolleys through vandalized industrial premises. Everywhere we went, the abscessed faces, matted coats, and bony ribs of animals were devastatingly present. Where is the safety net?
Just a few streets east and west curved the yellow brick road, a NIMBY tourist trail showcasing Athens’ assets. Though we remained aware of our bubble existence, it was safe and convenient to follow these blinkered pedestrian streets. In a full day, Maiocrates and I (Danastotle) strolled through the botanic gardens, by the Temple of Zeus, past the Panathenaic Stadium, and through Plaka. The tree topper was the Acropolis, noble city watch up on the hill. Historically green as I am, I marveled as these structures brought on an awestruck feeling, same as when contemplating galaxies beyond. To think the blush, rosy marble has endured so many eras, housed such important developments, and had its paths worn by scores of generational footprints is extraordinary.
Leaving our top notch Athens hostel (grateful for a suite of Head&Shoulders/Nivea shower products – a luxury departure from 4-in-1 shampoo), we bused to the archaeological site and quiet honeycomb mountain village of Delphi. Situated in inland Greece with beautiful views down to the sea, Delphi boasts a remarkably intact theatre, stadium and sculptures, their wonderful preservation enabling us to easily appreciate ancient town planning and historical art. Delphi was a great little stop (which we’d recommend doing in a day trip from Athens).
Back in Athens, we caught an overnight bus to Corfu, then hydrofoil to Paxos – the smallest of the Ionian islands. Arriving in Paxos is like getting a puppy for a birthday present – the best of surprises and utterly delightful. The main port town is protected by two islets, resembling a fjord. The exotic beaches of Vrika and Voutoumi on nearby Antipaxos (just a 10 minute speedboat away) were astonishing with flawless water and pristine sand. We highly rate this hideaway of god Poseidon, it has left a lasting impression on us.
Today is our last in Paxos before heading back to Corfu tomorrow where we bid thanks and farewell to Greece and make for Italy.