Oct.15.2010, Athens to Pelopponese

0800 clear skies, dry, 28 C.  Down for breakfast.  Kathy checked and the news wasn’t quite in but the front desk thought the Acropolis might not open until noon – too late for us.  0930 Talking to the server in the breakfast room.  She is Romanian.  Quite pleasant.  We had a nice conversation.  We decided to go to the fish market we saw yesterday on our street (Athinas) near the Town Hall.  At the front desk we found out that the Acropolis had opened and would be free until closing early at 1400.  We decided it was too late and continued to the market.

What a market!  Busy, noisy, stinking, with a huge variety of seafood.  Kathy saw someone pick up a fish off the ground, rinse it in a bucket of water and then put it back on the display stand.  Richard saw a guy pick up fish or something slimy, with the slime dripping off their fingers they just wiped it on his sports shirt – looked like a classy sweater that cost some money.  RE “You don’t want to shake hands with that guy!”  In and out of the 2 fish market lanes, didn’t go into the next part further behind, then next door to the meat vendors.  All sorts of meat butchered on the spot including rabbit with their feet on, pigs feet (Debbie got oinked!).

Now clear skies, scattered cloud, sunny, 30 C.  The meat market was almost enough to turn us into vegetarians.  There was also a restaurant way at the back of the meat market but we didn’t stop.  Back to the hotel, picked up our luggage and checked out at 1030.  Down to the Monastiraki metro station and hopped on the train – only partly crowded.  However, at Plakenticas a woman told us we had to get off our train and change platforms if we want to go to the airport.  !!News to us!!  A quick scramble to get all our luggage off the train, up one elevator, down another and we ended up on a platform for the airport metro line.  So what happened?  We didn’t look at the overhead red information electronic signs at Monastiraki – so it might have identified the train we got on as a short run instead of a full airport run.  Oh well, all’s well that…  Arrived at airport just before noon, changed 15 YTL to Euros, then had ATM problems.

1150  Piraeus Bank cash machine at departures level Athens airport – took card and pin code and request for cash advance but ony returned the debit card, no money, no receipt either.  I called Piraeus Bank and they told me to call my bank.  To call my bank, first I had to buy an international calling card 4E.  Then I tried to get operator assistance – 2 problems.  1. figuring out which way the calling card should go into the phone, only 1 way it works, I got it wrong repeatedly until I saw the little arrows on the card, and 2.  figuring out you can’t dial “O” for operator to dial a collect call to the VISA number to Canada – just dial the number with country code 001 for Canada and it turns into a collect call with no operator assistance.  So, went through the security questions with a woman from VISA, told her what happened, she said it hadn’t shown up yet in the computer and it would have done so right away.  What a relief – some idiot standing at a phone booth in Athens airport, grinning like a fool – that’s me by now!

Went and found Richard at the AVIS car rental desk.  He was wondering what had happened to me. From the AVIS counter in the airport to the AVIS lot, nice little turbo car but the trunk too small for our luggage.  Richard changed cars.  We ended up with a Ford Focus with a scratch all down the left side – maybe keyed.  I took pictures.

1315 left the airport, Kathy riding shotgun.  Paid 2.80 and 2.70 tolls on the highway.  1425 past the Corinth Canal – didn’t see it.  1435 another toll booth.  1445 turned off to Nafplio/Argos.  Got lost in Nafplio and asked directions of an elderly Greek gentleman at his gas station.  Found our way to Irae Beach Resort aka Iria Mare Hotel at 1605.  Mary and Angie at the front desk looked at us coming in with all of our luggage and offered us a complimentary upgrade to a larger apartment, separate bedroom, 1 bathroom, but it really is only 3 star.

1700  blue skies, scattered cloud, 28 C.  We drove into town which consists of a pharmacy, 1 or 2 taverns (hard to tell, 1 was open), a bakery and a restaurant that only opens for supper at 1900.  So we picked up 2 cream filled pastries and a cheese pastry from the bakery, took them back to the taverna, ordered a couple of bottles of beer and the girls fed pastry crumbs to the black cat.

Back to the hotel and we watched the sunset 1830 from the beach.  Then returned to the hotel and went down to the dining room for supper shortly after 1900.  It was pretty ordinary, a buffet setup for bus tour groups.  Planning to eat earlier in the day in bigger towns from now on or try a restaurant in town.  The resort computer is not working so we will have to find an internet cafe in Nafplio or borrow Kathy’s blackberry to check on Chrystal and Lindsay.  2035 planning the Peloponnese travels.

Missing from the kitchen in the suite: large bread knife, small paring knife, coffee maker, kettle, toaster, dish towels, dish cloth, safe, another mirror, hair dryer.

Impressions:  warm, bit muggy tonight.  KE black kitty, stinky fish, sunset, changing in the metro, switched cars, a little stress from time to time, tiny TV, WiFi doesn’t work, gluttony in the meat market, sadness, volume.  DM toll booths, cramped trunk, not too impressed today, stinky fish market – won’t eat fish for a while, pigs feet reminded her of Paris, snails reminded her of Spain.  JM the fish market was amazing, VISA very good with ATM concern, orange trees, paradigm shift from Athens, empty beach road, closed up resorts, sleepy town, empty beach.  RE  green, agriculture, must be a lot of water for the farming and orchards.  JM Rock and Ruin.  DM – cramped, word for the day.  metro, 1st car trunk, fish market.

This is an end of season, end of the road resort.  No printed information about resort facilities upon arrival.  Many hallway lights turned off. At reception we were advised that the front door is left unlocked at night.  If we return after 2300 or so, just push on the front door and it will open.  If you have left your key at the desk, it will be sitting on the counter and you can just pick it up.  So…anyone can walk in, pick up a key and rifle a room!

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