Friday, March 31, 2006

We interrupt the travelogue

Arab, Dressed as Jewish Hitchhiker, Murders Four

May G-d avenge their murders, and may the Israeli government not wait for G-d to do so.

The Middle Teen is taking the news about Shaked (HY"D) hard, as she knew him, and it's taking her back a few years to when Rachel Gavish (her teacher) and Rachel Shabo (her classmate's mother) were murdered.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Blessed be He who revives the dead

Or at least He who makes The Spouse loan his computer to the poor afflicted blogger whose computer suffers from an unmountable boot disk. (New computer coming from the States April 11.)

So, where was I? Oh, yes, my last day in Athens. (Notice how nicely I am going back in time and not discussing the election results. 63.8% voter turnout is not a mandate for anything but apathy.)

In the morning I had a meeting at the Elpis Hospital, where our experiment will be conducted (in Greece they don't use Institutional Review Boards; instead, you do your experiment under the auspices of a hospital.) My local guide and I took the metro there and back, since it's just at the outskirts of the city. Ever had a meeting where some of the participants did not speak the same language at all? The chief cardiologist, who was crucial to the discussions, spoke no English, and my Greek is limited to "hello" and "yes," which may be crowd-pleasing, but is extremely inefficient. Since the other participants had limited English, it all took much longer than it should have, but by early afternoon I was back in Athens proper and waiting for my next meeting, scheduled for 8:30 pm.

So what does a knitter do with time on her hands? She looks for a yarn store. Undaunted by the fact that the concierge did not know what "yarn" was and only bought a clue when I showed him my sock in progress, I set out to find a yarn store on my own, in a strange city where I did not speak the language.

First I tried Omonia Square
then headed down toward Syntagma Square and the Parliament building

(oh, look, it's Jaywalker again!)

(Of course Broadripple is never left behind.)

I finally found the yarn store by stumbling upon the fabric stores, and following the street until the fiber type morphed:
Dimitrios J. Sakalak & Son Ltd.
30 Kolokotroni St.

Lots of European yarns, primarily German. Not a must-see store (nothing local, nothing unusual) but a nice, pleasant place if you're in town and looking for a fix. Credit cards not accepted.

Another not-unusual but none-the-less welcome sight was Starbucks. I'm as little a fan of globalization as anyone else, but after a long day of listening to people around you talk a language you don't understand, and seeing around you a language you can't read, it's nice to settle down to a coffee of the day you can actually speak well enough to order and to hear English, in varying accents, all around. That is, if you can get to the Starbucks, if you survive crossing the street.

Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you--traffic runs backwards (well, correctly if you're British) on Aiogou Street. If you're trying to be like the Greeks and so are jaywalking, this is very important information to have.

At 9:30 I met with the last of my doctors, who took me to the airport. We only got lost twice, but that was OK. My flight was to leave at 1:20 am, and by midnight the check-in counter was still closed. You know things are bad when all the Israelis are in line, ready and waiting…

Next up: Purim!

We're on the road to nowhere

When I came down from the Acropolis I got a call. The weather the next day was supposed to be bad, and the boat I was to take to Alonissos (to meet with George Vithoulkas) might not leave from Agios Konstantinos. Instead, I was to take a KTEL bus to Volos (a 5+ hour trip) and take the boat from there in the morning.

I was supposed, when I arrived in Volos, to find my own way to the port and find myself a hotel room. Good thing Greece is still very patriarchical--The Spouse called the woman I was dealing with in Athens and ordered her to find me a hotel room. After all, the wather was bad, I was in a city I didn't know, and had to navigate in a language I didn't know. She booked me into the Aegli, a nice old fashioned hotel with small bathrooms but nice balconies.

I walked around, bought my tickets for the boat, and woke to a rainy, cold, windy day.
Even the metal seagulls wanted to fly away.

My hotel was across the street from the port, so it was easy to find my boat.

But--after shlepping 5 hours in a stinky, smoke filled bus (it seems like everyone in Greece smokes, man woman, and child) -- the boat from Volos wasn't sailing, either. So back to the KTEL station (sort of a cross between the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station and the old NYC Port Authority terminal) and back to Athens.

But first, a little photo-op for my two prospective Sockpaloooza socks. I'll knit both pairs and send the better of the two out, since my sockpal's measurments are just about the same as mine.

Broadripple against the too broad ripples of the sea:

and Jaywalkers jaywalking across the port road of Volos:

On the way back there was a terrible traffic jam. Why? There were four tank carriers parked on the side of the road.

Greek men must do a year of compulsory army service. So why were a few tanks such a big deal? Ho hum, yawn--I've seen bigger tanks parked on my front lawn.

Next up: Yarn, yarn, yarn.

Monday, March 13, 2006

It's all Greek to me

The trip of a thousand stitched begins with a single bag of yarn.

The Greek are just like Israelis, only more so. Very, very laid back--our flight was boarding at 5:15 for a 6:00 take off, and the gate agents finally strolled up to the gate at 5:45. Then the pilot flew double fast to keep on schedule. At the airport in Athens there were almost no signs telling you where to go, so people stood ont the Passport Control line only to find out that this was passport control for transfer flights, and we had to stand on a different line if we were staying in Athens. At least the luggage came quickly.

My contact person met me at the airport (SMS is a wonderful invention) and took me to my hotel, the Titania on Panepistimiou, then told me to go touring a while, as she had meetings to do.

Consulted my knitting, and it told me--to the Acropolis.

Simple enough--go two blocks to the Metro station, watch what everyone else is doing (buying tickets and putting them through the validation machine) and do the same. Maps in the Metro are in Greek and in English. Take the subway two stops to the Acropolis, get out and--no maps. But when this

is visible, it's pretty obvious where you need to go.

First stop was the Theatre of Dionysos. Since I have a B.A. in Theater, this was exteremly cool. To be somewhere you've learned about and never expected to go...

Then you climb and climb and climb to get to the temples on the top of teh mountain. Remember the ampitheater? Sure you do--it was about 2 lines up. Well, here's how it looks from almost at the top:

What knitting wants, knitting gets. Holly's neck band at the Parthenon:

Next: My big, fat, wasted Greek trip.

Monday, March 06, 2006

What a black hole looks like, part 2

Packing for Paris and Mexico City, plus knitting to be finished--Odessa, Holly, and Glad Raggs.

And this was before I found out that I'm off to Greece at 6am, staying until Friday, then home, Purim, and off again on Tuesday night. Wonder if I'll get a chance to do my laundry between flights...

Knitting coming with me to Greece: Holly, Glad Raggs (both to be finished there) and Broadripple and Jaywalker, one of which will be my Sockpaloooza socks.

I'm supposed to go to the Greek island of Alonissos, but the weather may force the cancellation of the scheduled boat, in which case I'll be stuck in Athens. I'm not sure what to pray for.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

The black hole part 1

Where have I disappeared? Knitting (pics tomorrow) for my trip to Paris & Mexico City. And tonight my boss informed me I may have to go to Athens for 2-3 days. Which means that in a period of 7 days I may do 4 transcontinental flights and visit 3 countries, none of whose languages do I speak.