Archive for the ‘Athens’ Category

Athens coronavirus lockdown day five

November 11, 2020

Few people around, very little open, cold with cold north east wind.

Walk a little way into the pine woodland on lower slopes of Hill of the Muses. Too windy to climb to the top.

One of my favourite walks in Athens, follow the footpath that runs along the side of the Koine Valley, then back the other side. Once an ancient route from Athens to the sea.

Athens can be teeming with people, always peace and quiet, not a soul to be seen. Not today, more people than I am seeing in usually busy parts of Athens.

A cappuccino from The Underdog.

I am always the only one in The Underdog, but a steady stream of customers, someone will arrive as I am taking my coffee.

No one around.

From Monastiraki head to Central Market.

Pass by Dope,  closed.

Nuts, dried fruit, chocolate and yoghurt coated nuts from stalls outside Central Market.

Head to Duo Goulies & Duo Mpoukies before close.

Nikos on his own, Tanya on furlough. Long hours 7-30 in the morning until 5-30 then an hour to clean machines.

Head to feyrouz Lebanese street food that I stumbled upon previous day.

Idea had been to order for later to be delivered.

Not possible, have to use an app for Wolt.

I try later give up, too much hassle, to much personal data requested, same model as Deliveroo, expploitation, serfs working for an app.

Ermou and Plaka deserted.

I cannot see the few remaining businesses open remaining open beyond the end of the week, no one around.

— to be continued —

Athens coronavirus lockdown day four

November 10, 2020

Athens night-time curfew. From Tuesday a week ago bars, coffee shops and restaurants closed. From Saturday first day of lockdown. Not allowed out unless have special permission. Luckily I have papers, special permission to go out.

Now very few people around streets deserted, very quiet.

It would hav ebeen a plesant warm sunny day but for a old wind blowing frm the north east.

Walking around The Acroplolis feew pope around.

Lunch from Sticky Rice n friends. Grumpy Greek not around. Young Filipino guy helful, togethr with Filipino chef discussed what to have. Deep fried chicken in batter stir fried rice and vegatabes.

I walked to a litle square outside Thissia Metro Station. Very warm in the sun.

My lunch tasty and genours portion size.

I had my lunch. I have to a guy on a park bench, maybed homeless. He thanked me.

Backtracked to The Underdog for a takeway coffee.

I then returned and oicked uo tow bags of coffee.

I looked in Sticky Rice n frinds. Thnaked for my excelent lunch.

I was going to … but closing soon, Juste Made 33 nearer.

A destour to Tailr House. DEkerickt an dabdndoned. THis wa sTair Made, a pioneering coffee shop. They lost their roaterm baartsas, when I looke dlaste yer the inside gutted. A tagedy to see a once excellent coffee shop desroyed.

Just Made 33 looked clsoed. The girl backoned me in.

A detour to Foyer espresso bar. I had hoped my have Kenney Japan edition. No luck. Picked up last copies of Stabdart. From shop next door chocolate coasted almonds.

I get lost. Pass by a Feyrouz Lebanse street food.

Olaka dested. Now nothing opedn.

— to b e continued —

Athens coronavirus lockdown day three

November 9, 2020

Athens night-time curfew. From Tuesday of last week bars, coffee shops and restaurants closed. From Saturday first day of lockdown. Not allowed out unless have special permission. Luckily I have papers, special permission to go out.

Now very few people around streets deserted, very quiet. But, more traffic.

During the day I learn lockdown now nine at night not midnight. Maybe came in with lockdown on Saturday.

In the morning I learn from Greek press report, announced previous night, everyone leaving the country has to complete Passenger Locater Form.

I also find, very few flights nearly all flights have now been cancelled. For example easyJet flight to Gatwick on Friday the 13thm next flight not until some time in December.

Travel advice: Do not travel during pandemic, it is a nightmare.

Pass by Temple of Zeus and Hadrian’s Gate, walk through National Garden which I find open, head to Kolonaki.

Cold brew coffee from Redd. Not learnt, loud music. Staff quite rude.

Something I have noticed everywhere, staff rude, whereas in the past always pleasant and polite, now many places rude and ill-mannered. Lockdown blues?

I was going to drink my cold brew sitting in Kolonaki Plaza, but police patrol have same idea.

I take a different route, a sort of short cut.

Another shop like Cashew, upmarket nuts fruit and coffee, though Cashew takes it to another level.

Carpo nuts, coffee and dried fruit.

I would not though buy the loose coffee beans. Long chute. When roasted, oxidised?

Passed by an interesting coffee shop, state of the art equipment, coffee shop for the bookshop of a publisher.

Horrible location, busy polluted main road, or would be but for lockdown.

On to ,,, which found open.

Cappuccino and a bite to eat.

Although too late to be open, as nearby to Central Market to see if Mokka open.

One of the stallholders said not, too few people around.

The place for nuts and dried fruit, high quality, often more than one grade of pistachio nuts, all far far better quality than would find in England.

Popped in a cheese shop around the corner. Excellent cheese.

Walking back, streets deserted. I doubt the few coffee shops and takeaways that are open will be open by the end of the week as lack of trade, lucky if one customer an hour.

Talking with an Indian takeaway I wished for chicken with rice. No. Oh well if they do not want businesses.

In a coffee shop closed, I wanted Kennedy Japan edition. Sold out. A pity I should have bought last week. Maybe Foyer espresso bar will stock.

Plaka deserted, the few businesses that were open at the weekend all now closed.

Lockdown is biting hard.

— to be continued —-

Al Hammam

November 8, 2020

Al Hammam is one of those places stumble upon to never find again.

Al Hammam is  a traditional Turkish bath, claimed to be the only one in Athens. I stumbled upon several years ago and asked to have  a look around. To never find again.

Not that is until today. Walking through Plaka, I took a detour along Tripodon, a not well frequented street,  and once again stumbled upon Al Hammam. Tripodon a less frequented street in Plaka then around the corner and there Al Hammam.

I was surprised to find open as Athens in second day of lockdown. Closed end of the day for lockdown

I asked did they do massage? Yes.

A shower,  traditional robe to wear, then escorted upstairs to a massage room.

After the massage tea in a tea room.

An old house, a veranda with views over Athens.

Staff courteous and helpful. If I was to add a criticism it would be do not ask if any problems, and do not discuss after massage.

Covid-19 biosecurity good. Clean towels, staff wearing masks correctly, shower before massage. One criticism, it should be mandatory shower before massage.

Sticky Rice n friends

November 8, 2020

Walked around The Acropolis to Thissio, then along a road to find Sticky Rice n friends, a Filipino takeaway I had encountered the previous day. They had only opened a couple of weeks before lockdown. Saturday at least half a dozen Filipinos, today two and a not very helpful Greek guy who claimed to be in charge.

I explained what I wanted. I did not want full portion, I would be eating later. No, argued Greek guy. I drew attention to empty street that we were in lockdown.

I talked to the Filipinos. They prepared what I asked for.

Reasonable portion size, tasty, but not great, chicken deep fried, stir fried vegetables and steamed white rice (no brown rice).

Had I realised the vegetables to be stir fried I wold have asked for more.

Excessive if not obscene se of plastic packaging. They wished to use a black plastic tray. I said no. Use a round card bowl (though did have a plastic lid.)

Covid-19 biosecurity reasonable. Open to the street, hand sanitiser, staff wearing masks correctly.

Takeaway coffee The Underdog

November 8, 2020

Night time curfew. Tuesday bars, restaurants and coffee shops closed. Saturday first day of lockdown.

Only allowed out with special papers. Luckily I have.

I take a walk around The Acropolis. Allowed out for exercise. Not specified for how far or for how long, other short near home or accommodation.

A detour to The Underdog. I was very surprised to find open. Me, a barista and somewhere a chef. Usually on a weekend The Underdog would be heaving.

Chef? For deliveries.

They have now expanded their choice of coffee in Nespresso capsules. The day before I noticed Kudu and Mind the Cup were offering Nespresso capsules. Even Panama Geisha sourced from 90 Plus in Nespresso capsules.

Buy a 60 euros Nespresso machine and coffee from quality coffee roasteries, for example The Underdog, Kudu, Mind the Cup, but never ever use Nespresso capsules.

I came away with a takeaway coffee. Not great, though my fault, I allowed it to cool. Not the same as sitting in The Underdog.


November 7, 2020

Cashew is an interesting concept, combine a coffee shop with a store selling loose nuts, dried fruits, honey, chocolate, peanut butter.

Such shops selling loose dried goods common in Athens, in UK not so common and would be termed a zero waste store.

What is interesting Cashew, combine with a coffee shop and give it a more up trendy boutique look. Whether this is reflected in the prices charged I do not know.

I was greeted by the owner, a famous Greek actor or so he tried to impress upon me. He singularly failed to impress me with his lack of knowledge of chocolate. He thought Hotel Chocolat quality chocolate. Er, no, it is a chain, though with better quality than Cadbury’s.

The shops was quite busy. Whether only opened a few days ago or last day before lockdown I cannot say. At times too busy, lack of social distancing.

Not impressed by female staff removing her mask to shout across the store to another staff member.

The time taken to bag items too slow and not viable for a commercial operation.

Many of the products failed to list ingredients, not only illegal, could prove fatal to someone with allergies.

The coffee Cafeistas. I did not try as was on my way to Mind the Cup where coffee is excellent and only stumbled across Cashew en route.

I bought a slab of chocolate and a couple of other items. I wished I had bought more of the chocolate which I enjoyed eating, though not on a par with quality bean to bar craft chocolate

Metro and the suburbs

November 6, 2020

Friday, last day of freedom.

Tuesday all restaurants, bars and coffeeshops closed. A night time curfew at midnight. Saturday, lockdown.

A cold day, gale blowing, cloudy, no sun. A day for the Metro, visit the suburbs.

First Chologos to visit Eat Me, Metro, then 418 bus. Cannot get on wheredriver i sat, have to get on exit. Nohow to pay. Some have acard, others simply walk on.

Eat me I do not like. A bakery cu, coffee shop. The coffee good.

Hop back on No 418 bus.

Viist Kudu, excellent coffee shop. Very busy. Have a bite ti eat. new Synesso espresso machine. They have bought two for lockdown.

TGbe back Metro fo Peristeri.

Walk oastCashew. Intersting conscept, nuts dried fruits and coffee.

To Mind the Cup. coffee and a bag of coffee.

Persteri life on the street, ques for a bookshop before lockdown.

— to be continued —

Tui covid-19 flight TOM6215 Zante to Cardiff

August 31, 2020

Zante to Cardiff the second tui coronavirus flight in as many days.

Two tui covid-19 flights, the first Zante with coronavirus-positive passengers bound for Plymouth,  the second Zante to Cardiff. Is there a third,  a fourth? On each flight at least half a dozen cases.

The Cardiff flight, passengers have complained lack of social distancing at check in, staff handling phones of passengers, on the flight failure to enforce lack of wearing of face masks, passengers not wearing masks walking around the plane to speak to fellow passengers, one lady had someone sat next to her with no mask, it beggars belief tui serving food and drinks on the flight and it goes without saying packed in like sardines.

Failure by tui to thoroughly clean the plane on turnaround. One passenger found wet wipes behind the seat in front.

On public transport, trains and buses, mandatory to wear masks but on tui flights anything goes.

Delta no mask removed from flight, blacklisted from future flights.

Why did the crew not note all those who refused to wear face masks as instructed, pilot radio ahead their details, police waiting to escort them off the plane on landing?

Passengers on the Cardiff flight say the first they were aware they were at risk of infection was when they heard it on the news and through social media.

A lady who was sat next to a passenger not wearing a mask, who said the crew failed to act, has now developed coronavirus symptoms. She hopes it is only a cold, but will have covid-19 test to be sure.

Stephanie Whitfield who was on the tui flight to Cardiff has described how passengers were not wearing masks correctly and just seemed to “disregard the rules”.

She told ITV Wales that she “didn’t feel safe” on board the flight:

I don’t think many of the passengers had been completely educated on the use of face masks.

There were people with their masks underneath their noses, underneath their chins, people were taking them off to speak to other people, taking them off and wandering down the aisle to speak to other people.

I didn’t feel safe and we took the decision before we got back into Cardiff that we were going to self isolate just because we thought it was the responsible thing to do.

I was sat in the middle seat and the gentleman next to me had his mask around his chin so for me to kind of highlight it to someone I would have then had to spend the next three and a half hours sat next to someone feeling very uncomfortable, so I didn’t feel like I was able to do that.

Every single passenger on the Cardiff flight has been instructed by Public Health Wales to self-isolate.

Tui claim they care about the health a safety of their passengers. A sick joke as they do not care about their package holiday clients and their welfare. In 2016 tui was knowingly dumping clients on a building site.

Travelling in a sealed tube in close proximity to other people is a sure plus way to catch covid-19. Passengers wandering around the sealed tube help spread the virus to other passengers.

On the Zante to Cardiff flight, at least three groups of people scattered throughout the plane have tested positive.

Dr Gwen Lowe, consultant in communicable disease control for Public Health Wales has said last week ‘we’ve had about 30 cases in Wales that have come back from Zante’.

Different flights on different days staying in different locations. These are confirmed positive cases and we’re expecting that number to rise.

Up to 30 in a group travelling to Plymouth may have been infected on a flight from Zante. They have subsequently been out drinking in Plymouth.

Greece was already at risk of of being placed on the UK quarantine list.

Greece must deal with the Zante coronavirus hotspot that is spreading covid-19 across Europe. Zante must be placed in lockdown, no travel to and from Zante and as absolute minimum close all bars and nightclubs and anywhere groups of people gather. In an attempt to slow covid-19, across Greece bars and restaurants have to close by midnight.

Tui should halt all flights to Zante. The only flights to bring back stranded clients, who must then face 14-day quarantine.

Update: A third tui flight, Zante to Glasgow had passengers who tested positive for covid-19.  Glasgow has been placed in partial lockdown.

Update: Wales has imposed quarantine for all flights from Zante. Scotland has imposed quarantine for arrivals from Greece.

Update: A WizzAir flight Athens to Larnaca, a passenger not wearing a mask correctly was questioned by police on arrival and fined.

Leonard Cohen on Hydra

July 20, 2020

In 1960 Leonard Cohen bought a house on the Greek Island of Hydra.

Once you’ve lived on Hydra you can’t live anywhere else, including Hydra. — Kenneth Koch

Leonard Cohen wished for somewhere quiet to write. He left Montreal on his first trip outside North America with a Canadian Arts Council Grant of $2,000 and one published book of poetry. He was writing a novel or trying to, blackening the pages three pages a day. Hydra seemed the ideal place, warm and sunny, especially compared with cold and grey and damp London. He arrived on Hydra with his green Olivetti. He had taken up an offer of Barbara Rothschild to stay on the island, only when he arrived at the house and mentioned her name, he was turned away by the housekeeper ‘we don’t need any more Jews here’. Leonard Cohen put a curse on the house and within six months it had burnt to the ground.

Prior to the purchase of his house, Charmian Clift and George Johnston offered a room in their house. He would sit writing on their terrace.

It was on Hydra he met Marianne and where he wrote ‘So Long Marianne’ and ‘Bird on the Wire’.

In a letter to his mother:

It has a huge terrace with a view of dramatic mountain and shining white houses. The rooms are large and cool with deep windows set in thick walls. I suppose it’s about 200 years old and many generations of must have lived here. I will do a little work on it every year and in a few years it will be a mansion… I live on a hill and life has been going on here exactly the same for hundreds of years. All through the day you hear the calls of the street vendors and they are really rather musical… I get up around 7 generally and work till about noon. Early morning is coolest and therefore best, but I love the heat anyhow, especially when the Aegean Sea is 10 minutes from my door.

What more could an unknown writer ask for?

He was part of a group of writers and artist and poets who used to meet at Κατσικάς Katsikas.

One of his friends Charmian Clift wrote Peel Me A Lotus her account of living on Hydra in the late 1950s.

They were all cursed. Charmian Clift killed herself after leaving Hydra, George died a year later.

His first concert in Australia was dedicated to the couple and he opened with ‘Bird on the Wire’.

We have photographer James Burke to thank for a series of photographs of these days in 1960 on Hydra.

A Theatre for Dreamers a fictional account by Polly Samson seen through the eyes of an 18-year-old girl, who with a thousand pounds left to her by her mother escapes from an abusive father. She reads a book Peel Me A Lotus by Charmian Clift, sent to her mother by the author a close friend of her mother, of life on Hydra. She remembers the friend of her mother from when she was a child and writes to her asking if she can find her a room to rent.

We start in 2016, Leonard Cohen has recently died, a very sad loss, and Trump has won the US Presidential elections. Word reaches Hydra ‘and spread rapidly like a stench along the agora. There were horrified groans, even from the donkeys, disbelieving splutters from every table, passer-by and boat. For a moment it was a comfort to think at least Leonard had been spared this.’

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