Names in: English Greek

24 days in Greece

November 26, 2009

Introduction

Most rural roads in Greece are not numbered or otherwise named–the navigational cues you can expect are signs pointing the direction and distance to a particular city, so navigation involves a good map, awareness, and connecting the dots between departure and destination. Big cities like Athens have a well developed network of named roads with generally good signs. Having said that, driving around Athens is not for the faint of heart–a GPS navigation device is highly recommended, if not absolutely necessary. Since mid-2009 all the roads in Greece have been fully digitally mapped, however at the time of this trip only the streets of Athens were, so we bought a Greek road atlas on our third day in Athens. The prospect of using a booklet written in Greek is enough to make eyes cross and toes curl. Easy, now. Breathe. Outside the major roads, the signs are often in Greek only, so when trying to find east BF and you stop to ask the locals for directions having the map in Greek is an asset. Of course when you really get off the beaten path, there isn't always someone around. Welcome to Greece, and fasten your seatbelts.

Day 1

Athens/​Αθήνα

We arrived in Athens at 09:00 directly from Philadelphia ready to roll. At the airport arrivals Christos/​Χρήστος, from the rental car company, was waiting for us. Mom also arrived from Thessaloniki/​Θεσσαλονίκη at about the same time. After hugs kisses and the obligatory tears from mom, Christos/​Χρήστος took us to our car and we were on our way. Mom took the metro to grandma's and we headed to my cousins who I had not seen for ages.

Img 0554,small We made two pit-stops, one at an ATM for euros and one at a pastry store to get a box of sweets for my cousins. I was delighted to see what great kids my cousin Soula/​Σούλα has raised as much as I enjoyed the giant beans she had prepared. It's not that she's a good cook, which she is, it's her warmth, hospitality, and joy to have us over. It's common in Greece, and it seems the less people have, the more they want to give. Time pressing, we headed for grandma's around 15:00. Since grandpa passed away she has been living by herself in her large rooftop apartment at Likavitos/​Λυκαβητός. There we had the privilege of ridding the world's smallest elevator. I remember this elevator since I was a little kid, it worked like a mule even though we overloaded it with two and a half tons of luggage–why is it that women pack for a month's trip