Saturday, August 30, 2008


A Statue of Aristotle

Early Morning 

Dawn at the Boardwalk

The Fruit Stands in Greece are just as nice as in Bulgaria

A Marketplace Alley Warming up for the Day

Our Group getting ready for Dinner

The most arresting feature of Thesolaniki upon arrival was the Starbucks and the easy internet access in the hotel. It seemed to be a metropolis like any other, and I waited eagerly for my first Greek moment as we took to the streets. A walk around the hotel block produced baclava-ish pastries in a shop window and several appliance stores, but I wanted more. 

We met for dinner at eight and headed for the harbor, and that is where I found Greece. A huge courtyard leading down to the Aegean harbor, surrounded by narrow alleys flooded with people, food, and live music played on the bouzouki (a Greek 6 stringed guitar); this was more like it. A dinner including grilled squid, chicken skewers, eggplant dip, Greek salad, rosemary rolls, custard, grapes, and lots of wine presided over by at least three friendly waiters and two guitarists (one of which spent some time chatting on his cell phone while he played); that's what I'm talking about! I felt firmly and happily in a new place by the end of the night, and the pleasant Greek feeling only intensified the next morning.

I took an early walk from the hotel down toward the harbor, not knowing that virtually the entire new faculty were taking off on runs in the same direction in the same ten minute span. We were like a secret service team securing the area. However, I only saw one of them flash by in yellow shorts, and I happen to be married to him. After that I was on my own, awash in Greek sounds, smells, and sights. I wandered along the harbor, noticing the slightly rank smell of seaweed as a shell vendor piled her starfish in a basket and a little rowboat just barely bobbed in the just barely breeze. The sky was pearly pink at the edge of the sea. It was quiet on the path, with just a few people strolling along and talking. Eventually I turned back up into the city, in search of more action. 

I found it in a market neighborhood, as dozens of stall vendors set out olives, gourd flowers, jams, hunks of steak, cookies, honey, tomatoes, and everything in between. I was the only one in the area not busily engaged in the early morning work of merchant life - piling, arranging, sliding, sawing, dumping, and scootching various items into place - and I attracted substantial attention. Walking down each little street and receiving the smiles and greetings of the vendors was like getting a big Greek hug. As I motioned to my camera I was invariably met with a please do gesture as I snapped photos of the awakening of the neighborhood. When I took a general shot including one older man who I hadn't thought to ask in advance, I received his hearty English "Thank you" and smile as I looked up from the screen. Apparently he was feeling comfortably photogenic at 7:45 am. 

Heading back to the hotel, I felt like I knew a little of Greece, enough to hold me over until next time. I would remember the guitar man on his cell phone, the taste of sliced custard, the little rowboat set against the pink sky, the butcher cutting through his steaks in the market and laying them lovingly down on beds of ice, the friendliness of the vendors to a complete stranger. 

1 comment:

Tanya said...

Greece, Istanbul...what next? And yes, I read your blog on a daily basis, so I've contributed at least 100 hits to your reader list.
Wish I was there with you. Just spent the afternoon with Meera, who flew in from Zanzibar to attend her 10th class reunion. She travels as much as the two of you do, and I'm envious of you all!

Kitties are fine....Felix just made a new hole in the screen so he can sneak in and relax on the sofa. Oscar does his own thing..He's learned to whine in the BIG way when he's hungry.

Don't know what to do about my pixel problem...It might be appropriate to leave it in a blur..

Love from The Farm...

PS: Today was the county fair parade! Sorry you weren't here for it.