I wandered lonely (not)

Saturday 7 September

I’d decided, as I’m coming back to Athens for a week at the end of the month, to visit the ancient sites then. The 12€ admission into the Acropolis allows admission to five other sites over a four day period, which makes it really economical. Instead I wandered around some of the streets in the Plaka I’m less familiar with.

I walked to Monastiraki Square, about three minutes from the hotel, and went left along a busy street. I was really surprised at the number of up-market fashion shops there, and so many people shopping, along with the usual scooters motoring through.

Suddenly I saw in the middle of all this chaos, a tiny stone walled church, its courtyard shaded by bougainvillea.

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I went down the steps and went inside to look at the religious scenes painted on the walls, and the icons. In the most unassuming little churches throughout Greece are the most wonderful paintings. There was an elderly nun pottering about. In the few minutes that I was there I saw several young women and even teenage girls come in, genuflect and kiss icons.

I don’t know why, because if you know me, you’ll know that I’m not at all religious, but I left a small donation and lit a candle. I guess it was just that kind of place and a feeling of peace. I don’t know.

I heard a sound of music and found a guy playing a really unusual instrument, like a piano with the top taken off, and he was playing it by hitting the strings with a pair of sticks. A friend has told me (see comments below) that it’s called a santouri. I don’t know if it was composed music, or he was just improvising, but it was a beautiful sound. I listened for quite a while, then gave him some coins and also bought a cd from him. It will be interesting to find out when I get home if it really has something on it 🙂

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A little way along the street there was a stall selling hot corn, the vendor smoking furiously the whole time. His customers didn’t seem to mind.

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I wandered, turning a few corners, and saw at the end of the street the domed church, Panaghia Kapnikarea, right in the middle of the shops on Ermou.

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As I wandered back along Pandrossou I spotted a small poster advertising “Socrates now” at the University of Athens Museum, which Connal and I had seen last year. It’s translated from Plato’s “Apology”, which is a record of Socrates’ own defence in his treason trial. It was finishing that night, so I decided to go again, this time determined to eschew the complimentary glass of wine that made me so sleepy the last time!

Caught a couple of rebetika songs during dinner at Dioscuri before making my way up the hill and having a look through the museum before the play. A great night!

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