Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Plaka

OK, where were we?

More importantly, where are we? Somewhere in the Aegean, on a satellite connection at something like 55 cents PER MINUTE. And I’m told that since it’s a satellite connection, it’s useless for uploading photos, so you’re just going to text from here on out. In pre-drafted, uploaded in a minute, segments.

So, I last left you when I first got into Athens. My hotel (which was cheap as all get-out via Hotwire, and tried to make it back up in internet fees) ran a free shuttle into the “Plaka.” I don’t exactly know what Plaka means (“place” maybe?) but it’s the part of the city center which has, y’know, life. Restaurants and shops and such which are open after dark. So, I took the shuttle to the Plaka -- I was the last person on the shuttle and (not wanting to wait an hour for the next one) got to sit on some plastic … thing next to the driver and facing the rest of the passengers. The driver told me that if we got stopped by the police, I was the tour guide. Fair enough. I started thinking of things to say (“To your left is … some stuff”). We made it to the square on the edge of the Plaka and were told we could pick up the shuttle back “right in front of the McDonald’s,” which was logical and depressing all at once.

The Plaka wasn’t much, actually. Well, I’m sure it’s impressive if you’re wanting to buy fur coats (in 80 degree weather) or expensive shoes and such, but it didn’t do much for me. Nor could I figure out how the cafes worked (couldn’t tell if they had table service or if you bought your stuff at the counter). And then there was the march. Hundreds -- maybe a thousand or so -- of Greeks started marching down the street, shouting slogans (in Greek) and waving signs (also in Greek). The signs had what looked like a dove and an olive branch on them, so I figured it was something about Peace, which, y’know, I could generally get behind as a concept. But they were quite energetically shouting as they marched down the streets of the plaka, and another tourist and I shared what I guess you’d call “an uncomfortable glance” as we waited for them to pass.

I ended up at a real restaurant (with waiters and everything) conveniently located next to the McDonald’s. It promised some sort of ethnic cuisine (I honestly can’t remember where, but it was definitely Mediterranean), so I had the special of the day (some sort of chicken, allegedly in lemon) which was relatively tasty and got me fed just in time to catch the shuttle back to the hotel. (I got a seat. The people who were last to the bus had to wait another hour for the next shuttle, or take a taxi.)

So, that was my Plaka adventure.

(I’m pretty sure I didn’t journal that already. Sorry if I did. No time to check.)

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