The Way There

You may be wondering how we got to Greece. The answer – despite my inquiries and increasingly heated protestations – was not instantaneous travel. Which is absurd. I mean, we put men on the moon in 1969 – at a speed, I might add, of 24,000 miles per hour. 50 years later, Katherine and I only traveled at a fraction of that speed. Because I bought the tickets with miles? Because we had economy seats? Who knows? But one consequence was a sleepy English breakfast at a Gordon Ramsay restaurant in London’s airport.

Being back in the UK brought back a rush of fond feelings. The accents; the shops (like Boots); the BBC covering local news. Which brought back other memories: grocery-shopping and pubs and English gardens. I lived in the UK 15 years ago, and I still miss it.

Greece brought back fewer, less fond memories. I didn’t find Athens particularly attractive the last time, and my overall impressions may have been colored by my lack of cash: to my surprise, I discovered my ATM cards didn’t work there, so I subsisted on a lot of bananas and cucumbers. I still had some good times, though.

Greece-Athens2002-2

At the Acropolis.

On the tallest hill in Athens, Lykavittos.

On the tallest hill in Athens, Lykavittos.

Look at that face!

And, for that matter, at all that haze. My goodness. Maybe the pollution is a seasonal thing – it was summer the last time it was there – but I suspect the air quality is just better now. This was the 2018 view from Lykavittos:

A cleaner view.

A cleaner view.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Sequence is important. And the first thing we noted about Greece this time was just how easy it was to get in. Customs? What customs? Maybe if you ran, screaming and flailing, from one uniformed officer to the next, you might find someone to ask you about contraband, and whether you had anything to declare. Instead, we walked through the entry without talking to anyone, and fetched ourselves a cab.

That was the second notable thing: the cab driver happened to have an extensive US background. He’d lived in the US for something like 20 years, and served with naval intelligence.

The third notable thing was our exhaustion. We wanted to dump our stuff, get something to eat, and then go to bed. So that’s what we did.

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