Let’s start with… I broke my glasses. I can sense the faint sigh of many who know me well as they read this.
I’ve had little resistance to aging other than that moment a colleague hovered behind me as I squinted to read my charting notes. Him: “Have you had your eyes checked”. Me: “no”. Him: “How old are you now?” Me: “None of your business”. “Ha! You’re forty now aren’t you?” Me: “pft” Him: “You need to get your eyes checked”. And so it was. After many years of perfect vision my eyes have now failed me. Another running joke amongst friends are my shameless misspelled texts. To illustrate this, a man once asked over text what it was that I was passionate about. I meant to say “I’m a food lover”. What I wrote was, “I am a good lover”. I actually made that error more than once. I relented and bought some glasses. I thought I would preface with this, because it remains to be seen how I will fare on this trip as I have always struggled to orientate a map and any hope of improving this is now shot. This morning of all days I needed my glasses, as I had to navigate the Piraeus Ferry Port.
Somehow, I stumbled along doing what I do best, asking for directions to anyone who would give me the time of day. Finally, I find the ferry and fingers crossed it’s the correct one.
I chose the island of Hydra, one of the Saronic Islands of Greece, as my first island to visit, admittingly because my favourite Canadian icon, Leonard Cohen, resided there for 7 years in the ’60’s. If cherished by this late great bohemian, how could I not be as equally enamoured. There are no cars or motor vehicles of any sort on this island. One ventures by foot or donkey. Although it was swarming with tourists near the port its charm remained evident. Crooked narrow roads lined with splendid unique architecture, greenery, cafes, wild cats and donkeys.
I spent the day escaping the city, meandering, stopping for lunch to devour the most incredible pork souvlaki wrapped in a warm, soft pita just dripping with tzatziki, followed by a yogurt and cherry ice cream.
Oh how I missed aimless wandering, with the only agenda being “hmm what shall I eat today?”. It was only a day trip to Hydra but well worth the journey.
Back to Athens to explore the Parthenon. Funny thing, I was initially unenthusiastic about my stay in Athens as I am not a fan of the big cities and saw it more as a pit stop to the islands. That said, the district of Plaka, despite its touristy buzz, offered that old town appeal I love so much about Europe.
I made my way to the Parthenon and while in the ticket line I met another solo traveller of Greek descent who lives in Australia. This was, in fact, her 15th time to Athens and she noted that she visits the Parthenon every time she returns. She walked alongside me offering commentary about its mid 5th century construction as well as the various historical destructions; controversial removal of the sculptures by Lord Eldin; and the endless and ongoing restorations. It really was magnificent. The Paretheon was created in dedication to Athena, the great patron deity of the city, goddess of wisdom and war.
And there amidst the ruins of grand marble monuments and impressive fluted columns bathed in the glow of sunset, I might have felt the essence of the goddess herself. “There is a crack in everything, that is how the light gets in”
I have grown to compassionately accept my own cracks. It gets easier with age. Like the great Athena, we all have a little war and wisdom inside us.
And alas every great day should end with a great meal. Tonight’s send off… a classic taste of the balkans: Moussaka.
A rather smooth day considering I could barely see. Thank goodness for the old zoom lens and size 20 font to finish this blog.
Tomorrow I travel to Sifnos, the birthplace of Nikos Celemente, the leading Greek chef of the 20th century.