965-975: Athens Antics

965 – Wednesday 24th January:  A Long Drive

First longish drive for ages…….should recharge the leisure batteries – given the lack of constant sunshine…..From Glythio to Marathonas beach wilding – €39 in m’way tolls but it was a good idea to shorten the journey. 
 
A lovely remote overnight parking on the beach near closed restaurants that may open at weekends……  About 2km of sand and sea.
 
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  Snow en route and snow ploughs were out along the m’way through the centre of the Peloponnese.   

967 – Thursday 25th January:  Marathonas

Into Marathonas town and – we passed the Marathon museum!  I had to visit (K and O stayed in Jez). Huge empathy from my 4 marathons (long time ago – last in 1988).  The photo is Dorado Pietri (Italian) finishing the 1908  London Olympic Marathon. He fell several times within sight of the finishing line and was helped across by stewards – promptly disqualified!  For his bravery, Queen Alexandra presented him with a special cup – he’s now world famous as the runner who did not properly complete the course!  
 
We headed to Nea Kifisia campsite NE of Athens – better for me to stay while K is in Blighty to see Maddy…only 2 days.  Not much to do except walk Oscar, visit the local mini market – and read……and chill.
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Dorando Pietri.
 

968 – Friday 26th January:  K Brighton Bound

I drove K to the Athens airport in the afternoon – and navigated back to campsite successfully – with my co pilot Oscar!
 
K Here:
Being 2 hours ahead, I landed at 10.15 p.m. UK time, but it was midnight for my body clock.   We went to Maddy’s flat in Brighton via a super supermarket … I bought mostly herbs and spices that I can’t easily find over here.  And Saturday’s supper request was that I cook a roast chicken!  By the time we chatted and had a glass … my body was in free fall.
 
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Met at Gatwick 🙂  A wonderful welcome by my Munchkin.
 
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Got to pick up my birthday and Christmas pressie … love ‘em.

969 – Saturday 27th January:  Brighton Day

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Maddy drove me along the coast to her workplace.  Steel comes in by boat, off loaded by use of magnets.  Into the sheds for drilling and cutting and out on the left onto trucks.
 
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We went on the Pier … the Shove TwoPenny is sooooo additive.  Had a giggle on the House of Horrors.  This is Maddy’s new date!

We had lunch in Brighton and then shopped till we dropped … trousers for Maddy, new waterproof for me and deodorant for J (he has a special one!).  Chicken back at Maddy’s and movie night.  Hagen Daas and chocolate, of course!
 

970 – Sunday 28th January:  Breakfast and Back to Greece

Up in time to dive into the centre for breakfast.  Banana milk shake was followed by pancakes for someone. I had a green smoothie … aren’t I sanctimonious!  I’d bought M a super cheap slow cooker (all of £10 with a 2 year warranty … how do they do that!?, so we headed to the supermarket to fill Maddy’s fridge with food for the week and for the slow cooker.  We were cutting it just OK for my flight, but then hit a motorway closure … oops… I arrived at the airport with only an hour to spare.  Not only was I scanned, but my ruck sack was pulled for inspection.  I had electric cables and plugs for the motorhome, as well as all those food items.  I’m trying to keep cool and not tell the chap hurry up, as he pulled out cornflower and icing sugar … fortunately for me, he was off on his break in 3 mins so he did not even use his drug/explosive dust swab.  A fast walk through the airport and I made the gate, just with time to buy a bottle of water and a coffee.
 
At Athens airport I picked up a hire car, which we had booked as we had anticipated our Friend Alison coming to see us tomorrow.  Sadly she has had to postpone her trip to us as she is awaiting a heart procedure.  
 
Being with Maddy was very emotional … whilst we talk and text a lot, it is not the same as a good hug and hanging out with her.  I will see her next in May.
 
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971- Monday 29th January:  Checking Out Sleep Spots 

Laundry day – well part of… we drove our hire car (an Astra diesel and nice to drive) to Porto Rafina to check out wild parking spots – met some lovely Transcendental Meditation ladies from Athens and USA.  Nice seaside lunch and then to Porto Rafti for more wildspeccing – including for K when I go to Nice to see my daughter in March and for moi whilst K is in UK in May – well travelled us?  a lot of flights booked!  Then – to Glifda and Pireas for researching our proposed trip to Crete!  Did we mention this?  A few people, especially on a forum that K is is on, have raved about it, various motorhome bloggers have said it is the best place to motorhome … and K bought the guide book whilst in Brighton … looks like we’re going then! 
 
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Mezze lunch in Rafina.
 

972- Tuesday 30th January:  Athens Walking Tour

Car driving in central Athens is – “interesting”…… nobody bothers about lanes or speed restrictions – and the motorbikes/scooters come from all sides!!!  But, as we have driven our previous motorhome in central Palermo in the rush hour – Athens by car is a doddle… We even managed to find free on road parking each day we drove in.  As we’d given ourselves lots of time I ingested an omelette special in a restaurant next to where we parked the car.  The owner gave us his business card so we could find our way back … kind.  Actually K spicks a Save on our location in maps.me so we can route our way back, but it would have been ungracious to explain that.  
 
Our guided walking tour – with Michael (Masters degree in Classics) was a lovely 2 hours – with excellent local information and anecdotes.  If any local politician or leader took too much power – he was ‘ostracised’ – hence the origin of the word. Only the true born Athenians (6,000) could vote – the other 40,000 were lesser citizens!  If that applied in UK, not many people would have the franchise!  When we later met Carol and Mike their tour was over 3 hours and so much more informative … ho hum.  
 
The photos below tell the story… 
 
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Tower of the Winds in the Roman Forum 2BC.  Combined weather vane and water clock.  The external friezes depict the 8 winds.

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Byzantine Church 1000AD

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The area where the Greek nobility attended to vote.  6000 men were entitled to vote and at one point were enticed with silver to attend.  Votes were taken on every and any issue daily.

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Herodes Theatre AD161, restored in 1955 and used for concerts.

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We couldn’t eat it all … Tzatziki, Moussaka, baked Feta with peppers, salad and wine … set price EUR25 for two.  And the sun shone.


973- Wednesday 31st January:  Acropolis

Our motorhome convoy moved to a wild S of Athens.  Soupful lunch in Jez – and off to Athens again – I walked around the Acropolis Museum and then the actual site itself.  Very impressive – but we have been truly spoiled by the Greco-Roman remains in Sicily and Italy…   Then – a K-phone app guided walking tour to see more local sites.
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Views from Areopagus, where youths hang out with a beer at night.  
 
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There is the Acropolis, a couple of other hills and a massive urban sprawl … thankfully very few high rises.
 
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Acropolis Museum:  Alexander the Great.

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James came out of the museum and caught me red handed … oreo and milk chocolate flavour.  Yummy.  Note the new Maddy boots.

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View up to the Acropolis.  Only the Temple of Athena Nike 426bc has been restored fully so far.
 
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Propylaia – the enormous entrance.

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The Parthenon was covered in scaffolding and plastic sheets when I visited it 30+ years ago … got to see a bit more this time.  They have only just replaced the crane inside that had been in service all this time.

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J mastering a selfie 🙂

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Hadrian’s Arch AD131 – positioned to deliberately mark the boundary between the ancient Greek city and the new Athens of Hadrian.  Two inscriptions read “This is the ancient city of Theseus” and on the other side, “This is the city of Hadrian, not of Theseus”, just in case Athenians were not sure!

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The Temple of Olympian Zeus. Was the largest in Greece.  It started in 6BC, but not completed for 650 years .. a bit like the slow Acropolis rebuilding programme!

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Panathaenic (Olympic) Stadium in the site of the original stadium  330BC.  It was reconstructed for  gladiatorial contests in Hadrian’s time, then in AD144.  In 1896 it had a major reconstruction in time for the first modern Olympic Games.  It seats 60,000.  In 2004 it was used for Archery and the end of the Marathon.

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The Royal Palace was completed in 1842, destroyed by fire in 1909 and used as the Parliament building since 1935 … very plain compared to the English Houses of Parliament, about to undergo it’s own £40b (+) renovation.  I tried to stand next to the elite guard for my pic … he stamped his gun on the ground and an ordinary army officer came and told me to move off the step.  Carol was told on her walking tour that they only stamp their guns if they are threatened … was he concerned about me or Oscar?  The tomb of the unknown soldier is behind me.

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And without me.
 
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Byron being crowned by Greece.  Carol and Mike were told Byron was having his hair combed!
 
 
 974- Thursday 1st January:  Agora and Meeting Up

 
Athens Camping was our next stop – to hook up again with Carol and Mike (we met them at Ionian Camping at Christmas). Athens centre again – so far we’ve managed free on street parking – lucky…  K walked around the Agora – and then later we walked through the old town – narrow market streets and very touristy.  We had a date with Mike and Carol for an early supper – walked it off back to our Astra and back up the A8 to the campsite.  
 
 
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Walk through the park and stumbled on Socrates Prison.  The holes in the wall were where wooden building were attached to the rock.  During WW2, the caves were cemented up concealing museum artefacts.

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The Agora … the Greek Forum equivalent, where all the business took place.  This is the Stoa … shops now a timeline museum.

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Pan … just amazing quality.

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A Kleroteria – an allotment machine to see who was to be called for jury duty.  People inserted their bronze name tags into the slots, into the top were poured black or white balls.  By means of a crank handle the balls were released selecting an entire row for jury service.
 
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Ostracism – intende to protect the city from aspirants to despotic power.  Voters scribbled ‘candidates’ names on pottery shards and these were then counted.  The ‘winner’ was then ostracised from the city for 10 years.

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Ancient Athens Weights and Measures.  Financial transactions were supervised by the Agora (Greek Council).  These are official vessels for dry goods.

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Lead tokens for issuing pieces of armour.  The images are representations for helmets, breastplate, shields etc.  Middle 3BC.

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These vessels have a hole in the top to measure the water and one at the bottom … when the water has emptied, the orator has to stop speaking.  I think some teachers could have done with this!

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View from the Temple Hephaisteion of the Stoa and the Acropolis.

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Temple Hephaisteion 449BC and the best preserved in all Greece … it’s roof is still intact, but you can’t go in.

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The security at the Temple took this … nice chap.
 
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Tourist tat in lots of the old streets.

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Late lunch/early supper with Carol and Mike.
 
 

975- Friday 2nd February:  Acropolis 2, Benaki Museum and Central Market 

We had planned to high tail out of Athens, but felt we ought to give it another shot.  Oscar is an impediment.  Being 21kgs, he is too heavy to go in a bag (not that he would entertain this), so the Metro is out.  Our only option for visiting the metropolis is to drive in.  Given the traffic and erratic parking, a motorhome is a no go.  So it sort of made sense to do another day whilst we had the car.  There is free camper parking S of the Acropolis, but we worry about being a newish van in a city … we were broken into in Copenhagen.  So … another day it was.
 
Drove in with C and M – they wandered through the Acropolis – Oscar and I sat and braved the wild dogs.  Note: most of the wild dogs in Greece have been quite friendly … these were NOT.  One attacked our boy.  Bastard.  The nice man in the cafe came out to call the dogs off.  Almost forgave him his prices … €7.00 for a coffee and Twix – extortionate but – tourist prices – I wonder how much it would be in high summer?  
 
Separately, we went into the Benaki Museum – we’re close to being ‘museumed’ out…..and ‘cityfied’ out…   Choice over Archaeological Museum as would take 3-5 hours each and we’ve had enough of being in a city.  Central Market for meat and veg … stagger back to car with a good load in our back pack and shopping bag.  
 
Earlier back to the campsite than planned as early start next day … our Bristol based Adria dealer has sadly gone bust (we really liked the people that ran it and worked there, so we are very sad for them), so we booked the only Greek Adria dealer to look at front seat at 10.00 tomorrow.  It ‘complains’ and grinds when we swivel it.  Not sure if it is a warranty issue or not, but since UK Adria dealers will not take on warranty work for another dealer … we may have to pay and labour rates are cheaper here.
 
K made more haute cuisine soup and prepped a beef stew for the next day.
 
Evening drinkies at chez M and C – and early abed…..
 
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Theatre of Herodes.

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From the Acropolis you can see the Olympic Stadium, Hardian’s Arch and Temple of Olympian Zeus.

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And now inside the Benaki Museum … a private collection.
 
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Marble Cycladic female figures 2300-2200BC.  Inspired later artist such as Van Gogh.

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Bronze folding mirror showing Aphrodite and Eros.  280BC.  Perhaps a bit heavy for a handbag, but amazingly constructed.

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Lord Byron’s portable desk, pistols and portrait.

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The table where King Othon signed the Greek Constitution in 1844.  The actual manuscript and Othon’s pen.

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Part of the university.  Strangely a statue of Gladstone in front.  Wonder if some wag of a student was posing a maths sum?
 
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The Central Market … great food and great prices … I had to buy some meat from this chap since he’d obligingly posed.  We just had to lug it 1.8km back to the car!
 
 


836-848: The Longest Separation and a LOT of Charging About

836-848  – Friday 15th – Wednesday 27th September 2017:  The Longest Separation and a LOT of Charging About

I crossed back to Blighty on the 15th.  Although I’ve done it before, I was still slightly nervous about Oscar’s pet passport being in order.  I checked and rechecked the vet’s entries comparing to the previous vet’s.  No issues at all and we sailed through the process quickly.

On returning and leaving England, it is normal tradition for us to stop over to see Ian, young Jimmy and Nicky’s parents in Rustington.  However, Ruth and Brian were in Brittany visiting their other daughter, Tracy, and Ian was up in town, so not this trip.  The up side was that I booked an extra night in the Brighton campsite and spent an extra evening with Maddy, who has just moved here.  I got to see her great 2 bed flat (she’s sharing with a good friend who is at Uni there) and to wander around and SPEND in Brighton.  The flat is walking distance from the centre, so we did not have far to carry a chalk board and mirror (which I promptly smashed), as well as M’s new pre-loved clothes and my new frock and costume jewellery.  If you’ve not been to Brighton, it is buzzing place.  Drug addicts, students and Barbour jackets all rub shoulders together … it is very real.  The break a mirror and bad luck happens adage happened … all electronic.  Th sat nav lost all its maps.  The sat pad (iPad with Co-Pilot) died altogether and wanted re-initialising and the radio died.  The first two have been resolved and the radio binned.

Before J joined me I moved between Farnham (close to parents and sister), Bristol for dentist, John Lewis and e bike shop and Shropshire to drop off Christmas presents at my brother’s.

  • Teeth:  X ray and all fine – good to know as will be away, if all goes to plan, for a year.
  • John Lewis:  Purchased a few last Christmas gifts … all my Christmas shopping is done and wrapped!!!!  A chap on the escalator was moaning that it is too soon for Xmas cards and wrapping paper …I gleefully told him that some of us are all wrapped, cards written and stamped as we are off travelling.  And I pre-bought and am using my birthday / Christmas gift from the Aged P’s and a little bit from James – a GPS sports watch.  One of the really good things about it is that the time digits are really large … I no longer have to squint or reach for glasses to read the time!
  • E-Bikes:  this was phase 2 of the get Oscar about with us.  We bought the Os-car doggy trailer in Holland, but I could not get up hills towing the combined 35kgs+ of Oscar and Os-car.  Also, we want to travel a bit further when parked up.  We do not want to tow a car; a scooter is no good unless we had a side car for Oscar … and we’d both want to drive anyway … so e-bikes it is.  I’d done some research and looked at lots of forums, ordering the bikes from a shop in Bristol, who had stock and gave a decent discount.  We’ve gone for Kalkhoff Agattu …. both in matt black as no stock of the white, and I have a bigger battery to compensate for the towing.  We found time to test them for all of about 15 mins before we left for France and they really do make a difference, especially up hill when you switch to high power mode.  Setting off is assisted too.  I was a bit reluctant about cheating and loss of exercise, but everyone we’ve spoken to loves their e-bike and I think we will too.
  • I’d not seen brother Tim and Sarah for about 2.5 years, so it was good to catch him between his house parties … think modern day Downton Abbey and you have their lifestyle!  They were off to a shooting party in Yorkshire and I was given a bag of veggies from the walled kitchen garden.  They are planning a trip to the Balkans somewhere in Spring, so I hope we can meet up then.

James left Antibes on the 20th; his flight left 30 mins after his ex-wife landed … so Sarah really was not alone long should the baby have decided to make an appearance.  This is the longest by far we’ve ever been apart – 9 nights.  Boy, was it good to be back together.  However, little time to enjoy being together as more jobs to be done!  Including:

  • J’s eco cardiagram for the DVLA.  Yes, his birthday was in April, but the doctor’s two errors on the form were picked up separately and because he was identified with a heart murmur, they then wanted his heart checked out.  Anyway, the consultant said she could hardly identify the murmur and they he would have no problems with his license …. I should think not, when he is a runner!  But good to know, all the same.  Now that we are back in France, we just need to work out where to get his license posted to …. Kerstin, are you reading this???
  • Jez had his engine and habitation service – all good.
  • Fiat in Guidlford …. thrice! They’d not ordered the replacement part for the dashboard (under warranty) when it was booked in over 2 months ago, so we had to go back the morning we caught the tunnel to France … I put the crossing back a few hours and it was just as well I had, as the mechanic had out the radio back in up side down, so we had to go back again.
  • Vet for kennel cough and to stock up with a year’s supply of drugs!
  • Washing, more washing and cleaning
  • Sorting ‘stuff’ in the Aged P’s attic as a) we’ve had notice not to add to the expanding pile in case the roof comes down! and b) we wanted some of the stuff, such as Balkans guide books and winter clothes. We’re spreading our love (as one of my pilates videos says) … no, I mean, our stuff.  Our normal bikes are in Clare & Chris’ garage.
  • Weigh bridge … we need to drink the glass bottled beer and wine, eat the two massive sacks of dog food and stop stock piling tins and toothpaste!

We managed to catch up with a few people, but really only a few people.  Stephen and Kay, our old next door neighbours cooked and always delicious.  Frances and Edward to belatedly celebrate E’s special birthday, which we missed as we were on baby watch in Antibes.  And I had a great Sunday afternoon with the girls – my old muckers, and Ian and Jimmy in Twickenham.  Just not enough time.

We crossed back at 1416hrs on 27th – the next adventure begins 🙂

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Maddy tucking into a Full English (she justified it by going to the gym before) …

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… whilst I froze and wo-manfully smiled whilst she ate!  I did nick a piece of bacon.

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Moreton Corbet Castle, an extended castle and Elizabethan House which was owned by the same family who own Tim’s house … his is in slightly better nick!

 

And announcing the safe arrival of Cian Ash Weston on Sunday 24th September.

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