Wednesday, 25 November 2009

All Greek

Several weeks ago now, I went to Athens. This was my first foreign holiday in about 12 years. I've been meaning to get around to going away, but of course I never did. And then one day I decided to see how much a seven day break would cost, by entering some random dates into Thomas Cook's website. I was pleasantly surprised by the result - £360 for flights and hotel seemed like a good deal, so I went ahead and booked something for real. In the end I paid £430 so that I didn't have to fly at crazy times.

I didn't really think about going anywhere else. There were several reasons for this:
  • I wanted to go to a Greek speaking part of the world.
  • They speak a dialect of Greek in Cyprus, which I'm nowhere near as good at understanding.
  • Melbourne is too far away.
  • I went to Athens when I was 15 and decided that it was the best city in the world. I should add that the only other city I'd been to at that point was London.
  • I'd read and seen more about Athens than Thessaloniki (Greece's second city), so it seemed more familiar somehow.
My flight got into Elevtherios Venizelos Airport late afternoon on a Saturday. I'd read all about the metro, and I knew that I could get very close to my hotel on it, so I headed straight for the station and bought my ticket using a machine, then went to the platform.

There were two trains there, and one of the train drivers seeing that I was looking lost asked me where I was going. I told him, and he directed me to the other train. My first ever verbal exchange in Greek was actually a success. Even if I did stumble over the words.

On my way to the hotel, I stopped at a kiosk to buy a copy of the paper. This was one of the things I had been looking forward to - having the newspaper in my hand instead of on a computer screen.

The kiosks are a great idea - they're outdoor newsagents, dotted around all over the place and sell papers, magazines, cold drinks, crisps and chocolate. And they're open all day until late. It can't be that much fun being cooped up in one for all that time, though.

I bought a real paper every day, of course, and some of them came with free CDs and DVDs. One of them was a CD of Greek music by Yiannis Poulopoulos. Here's one of the lighter tracks for your delight and delectation.

It's called "I have a boat with sails". Even though I've found the lyrics on the internet, this song is taking me ages to work out - I understand all the words, but getting the sense of it is much harder to fathom than most of the Greek I'm used to. Which means that I need to spend some time on songs, something I've not thought of doing until now.

Anyway, more about my holiday (and language issues) later...


Chris Wood said...

Sounds like you had a great cultural bask while you were there - good man!

I enjoyed the song - England doesn't enjoy its natural folk music enough. Folk is a dirty word to some people, largely because they're twats.

Chris Wood said...

Oh ... and FIRST!

Chris Wood said...

... performs elongated elaborate serenade of glee before a bemused bus queue.

Chris Wood said...

... and alliterates appallingly.

Jean Knee said...

Chris Wood was only first because he wasn't celebrating Thanksgiving.

shove it chris, everyone knows I'm the true first

and your so called sentences suck....sorry

Jean Knee said...

oh yeah, Hi Brian!

Brian o vretanos said...



Jean Knee:

You wouldn't be so scathing about Chris's sentences if you knew that he was one of the foremost experts on the subject. The thesis for his third PhD was:

"Art or Abomination? An Assessment of the Agglomeration of Academic and Authoratative Accounts of the Advance of Alliteration and Alliterative Authors through the Ages."

Naturally he was awarded an A grade.

Jean Knee said...

The title alone gives me shivers.

congratulations Chris on your chronicle of clever and cohesive construct of....uh....alliteration?


Chris Wood said...

I'd love to reply but it's Sunday, and I never alliterate on a Sunday. Shocking.

Bee said...

They have those same types of kiosks in Mexico.

I can't wait to hear/read the rest of your story!