Friday, September 30, 2016

Day 2 in Athens

It was a night of sporadic sleep, interrupted by frequent disbelieving glances at the clock. Finally at around 6:00am we decided to turn on our electronics and entertain ourselves for a couple of hours while the rest of the city came to life.

The hotel manager directed us to a Germanos location where we provided passport ID and obtained a SIM card for the phone. Yeah!! We have a connection to our friends in Greece. The cost was 10 euros for the initial "joining" and 12 euros for 100 minutes of talking and hundreds of text messages.

From there we enjoyed a "blessed" meal at "God's Restaurant"...fresh orange juice, coffee/tea, omelette, toast, yogurt with honey...8 euros each! It was actually quite good.

After the meal we discovered signage with recommendations from Rick Steeves and Lonely Planet. We usually try to avoid the commercialised places but this was okay.

From the restaurant we wandered to a travel agent to buy the tickets for tomorrow's ferry trip to Paros on the Blue Star Delos.

People watching is always a great way to spend hours in Athens. The sun was shining and the day was warming up to 30 degrees so we explored the market and shopping streets. When our energy waned we stopped at a street cafe for coffee/tea and an hour of watching vendors and shoppers.

At 1:00pm it was finally time to head back to the hotel for a rest and to confirm arrangements for tonight's outing. Our plan was to join Vassilikis at the shop where Niovi works.

Niovi making Mojitos (her beauty overcomes the blurry photo taken without a flash)

Niovi and Vassilikis share special time with us.

After a dinner of Asian fusion dishes we met with Niovi at her shop and were introduced to Olga, a regular visitor to Amorgos who we have wanted to meet for years. Vassiliki arrived soon after and we caught up on her work in the pottery studio. Niovi joined us in between serving drinks to customers. She brought us up to date on the refugee situation in Athens and on the islands. The hotel in Athens that was "squatted" by refugees continues to run smoothly with volunteer assistance. She dedicates hours every day to helping with various aspects of the management for this group. The island camps are now referred to as "detention" camps which is very disturbing to the inhabitants who are imprisoned in them and to the volunteer groups to try to provide aid.

After sharing stories and a drink with these women Vassilikis chaperoned our walk back to the hotel.
It was another evening with special friends and we were back in bed before 11pm!

Tomorrow we will be woken at 6:00am for a taxi trip to the port. Should be smooth sailing!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

In Athens - again!

Here we Athens...again! The sun is shining and it still feels like summer days are lingering in Greece.

We flew with Air Canada to Toronto for the first leg of our trip. Our departure from Vancouver was almost delayed due to lack of staffing at both check-in and security. Several passengers (including us) managed to board the plane just minutes before scheduled departure despite arriving 90 minutes ahead. Meals on the domestic flight were not included and the breakfast sandwich was sold out by the time the flight attendant reached our seats. Needless to say we did not have time to purchase anything in the terminal before boarding!! breakfast was a curried chicken wrap!

After a 3 hour wait in Toronto we boarded our Air Canada flight to Athens and learned that there was no inflight entertainment onboard!!! movies to help me through the 9+ hour flight!!!! We were advised to download the Air Canada App on our own devices. REALLY???

Dinner was included on this flight...a choice between chicken or pasta. We both chose chicken (maybe) which was accompanied by a strange half frozen salad of corn and cabbage...should have been tossed to the pigs!...and a frozen bun. The highlight was a piece of dry chocolate cake.

Sunrise over the wing

The flight attendants appeared sometime after sunrise (where do they go for the rest of the trip?) and rolled their carts down the aisle with offerings of banana bread for breakfast. Wow!

Our bags were among the first to roll out on the carousel and we made our way to the Metro like seasoned veterans. The trip into Athens costs nine euros each now. After a small glitch at the Syntagma station we made our way to the Phaedra Hotel without a problem. Miraculously our room had already been cleaned so we were able to put our heads on the pillows just after noon for a four hour nap.

A friend called the hotel with an invitation for dinner but we declined. The idea of joining friends for an 11pm meal was not a good idea. I explained that we would not be good company...falling asleep in the pasta!

So...we will go for a walkabout and an early dinner before revisiting our hotel beds.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Two more sleeps!

Two more sleeps before we fly back to Europe for the second time this year. I have been told in the past that I say "NO" too often when invitations are extended so this time I agreed to say "YES" to the offer of a tour through the Balkan countries with friends...even though it means two trips to Europe in one year...totally decadent!!!

On Sunday I joined my sisters for a walk at Westminster Quay and a birthday lunch in advance of one sister's birthday. We were surprised to find blue trees along the walkway.

"The Blue Trees" are part of the Vancouver Biennale initiative.
 Painting trees blue was used to raise social consciousness 
about the role of trees as the lungs of the world.

Tara and Dorothy posed under a massive "W".
 This public art piece was created by Jose Resende, 
a Brazilian artist to celebrate "WOW-Westminster".
Four-forty foot long shipping containers form the 140 foot wide sculpture.

Dorothy did not consume a beer. 
She was recycling someone else's garbage!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

False Creek seawall walk

This morning I walked down to the little ferry and rode across to Granville Island for a morning coffee, scone and crossword challenge. Once I was caffeinated, and after failing the crossword challenge, I decided to walk around the False Creek seawall. It was a beautiful walk on a sunny cool day.

My pace isn't the same as it used to be but, despite hip issues, I can still go the distance...8.20km (12,063 steps). Whew! It was exhilarating! Good to know that the Casino was perfectly situated for a washroom break before I panicked.

Along the way I discovered and enjoyed some of Vancouver's public art.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

What a sky tonight!

Vancouver is transforming downtown laneways

During my morning walk in downtown Vancouver 
I spotted another laneway that is undergoing a transformation 
into a pedestrian friendly walkway.

With the eventual addition of cafes and eateries
these walkways will become colourful avenues to explore.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Red leaf

Leaves are falling
squirrels are busy
days are cooling

Friday, September 16, 2016

Morning sky

Early morning sky...
waiting for the evening rain.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

B.C. Hydro -1963

I entered this building for the first time in 1963.

I was wearing a dress that my mother had bought at Army & Navy for $5.00. 
It was the day of my first job interview and I couldn't stop shaking.

Surprisingly, I was hired for a drafting position 
in the Home Lighting Department of B.C. Hydro.

I had never seen a drafting table or held a drafting pencil
or drawn a floor plan... but... I learned quickly.

Today, 53 years later, the building has been converted
into condominiums. I wonder if the residents ever hear
the whir of an electric eraser or the scratch of pencil on paper.
When the elevator dings in the morning and mid-afternoon
 can they hear Ellie pushing her coffee cart down the hallway?

Good memories!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Mitch visits

It was a great weekend!
Mitch arrived on Friday night.
We ate, walked and talked our way through his 3 night visit.

A Coal Harbour/downtown walk on Saturday afternoon.

His first "Legion Meat Draw" on Saturday night
 - a rare experience for a vegetarian!

A brunch and walk with Heather, Chris & Augie on Sunday afternoon.

Sushi dinner with Mereille & Henrik on Sunday evening.

The visit ended at Canucks -YVR 
with an opportunity to say farewell to Adrian.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Vancouver murals

We decided to tour some of Vancouver's new murals this morning. 
We explored the industrial area East of Main Street 
and South of Terminal Avenue.

This one was already defaced!

Reminders of my teen years at Wally's on Kingsway!

We look forward to searching for more of these
amazing works of art!