We woke at our leisure on April 3rd, ate a light breakfast,
did our check out stuff, and took off towards the Plaka around 11 a.m. We browsed along
the various shops, thinking about where we might go for our last lunch in Athens. We
discovered a place called Ionia with some fascinating leather goods with the appearance of
tree branches and roots. The man who owns it is from Smyrti in Turkey but has worked as an
artisan in Greece for 29 years and does beautiful work. He showed us just about everything
in his shop, explaining the origin of designs, and the leather embossing and carving
process he uses. He even pulled out some fine art books and shared some of his favorite
photographs of places, people and artifacts. He was totally charming and typical of the
friendly nature of people here in Greece.
His shop was not far from Maryhelene's pottery shop on Andarou.
A week ago, we spent some time discussing her museum replicas
and the mythology associated with many of the drawings from
her collection. She is a well-educated young woman who can provide
a lot of valid information about the classic styles. We were
specifically looking for a small lekythos (pitcher) in the Corinthian
style with the mythological siren. She had just the right thing.
Now our main goal was to return to the Kidathineon for lunch. The owner remembered us
with a warm welcome and served up huge plates of perfectly tender squid. Preceded by a
good salad, washed down with Kourtouris Retsina, and followed by rich homemade chocolate
ice cream, we were very satisfied. To our delight, he treated us to another round of that
delicious liqueur (he knew how much we enjoy good food). Since the day was sunny and
pleasant, we had chosen a table near the walkway and did not hesitate to tell menu
browsers that his food was excellent and by the time we had to leave, the place was
We returned to the Grand Bretagne in the afternoon to catch
our transfer to the World Renaissance. They were very accommodating,
and let us store our luggage downstairs and our valuables in
a safe place until well after the normal checkout time. They've
got a lot of class.
The transfer to the ship went smoothly, but the situation on
board was chaotic. We did not unpack right away because the
toilet in our room did not work and we knew we might have to
make a change. We finally got our luggage (3 hours later and
an hour after the ship sailed) and the toilet is working. This
is a shakedown cruise (first of the season with not only a new
crew but also a new ship recently repurchased by Epirotiki)
so it could be very entertaining. They advised us to exchange
our vouchers for tours before dinner. This created a madhouse
in the small lobby and it got so bad that the head concierge
disappeared to get away from the disgruntled mob. The real problem
was that the guy running the desk did not have enough computer
experience, but he kept trying.
Our first dinner on board was hysterical. First off, the early
seating patrons had taken an hour longer than planned to finish
their dinner. As polite as they are, the waiters (Greek) did
not want to rush them and had to clean up after the last diners
left. When we arrived at our table we met up with Virginia and
Harvey who would be our dinner companions. Babis, our wine steward,
was unable to bring us a carafe of wine because all the carafes
had been used at the first seating and had not been washed yet.
Angelo, our waiter, made four valiant attempts to bring me olive
oil (for dipping bread). First he tried oil and vinegar salad
dressing, then a fun variety of vessels with what finally turned
out to be as light as canola. I will buy my own tomorrow. The
dinner was well prepared and tasty and we had a good opportunity
to get more acquainted with Virginia and Harvey.