I thought my crazy race to get to Beirut was something, but this time…I went beyond any record, but I made it and I am heading to Athens. I am back with writing about four blog posts and I have about the same number of opened/unpacked suitcases in my room. However, I cannot stay in one place anymore. From a nomad heritage like mine it was impossible to turn out (just) a lawyer. I counted only 5 nights slept in Doha until this time of the month. Because when things are allowed by up there, they happen. I became addicted to flying, to going up and down, exploring and learning. I didn’t sleep all night, I arrived from flight (duty) at 1:30 AM, booked a ticket, reserved a hotel, packed some “linen”, cooked some food and almost burned the house down, didn’t give a damn, put on my travel smile and pushed my lever to travel mode. Then I realize I don’t have a seat in the aircraft, but wait…I am crew and I can sit on crew seat, which I did.
The song “I’m leaving on a jet plane” plays over and over in my head. I woke up about 21 hours ago and I’ve just been served some breakfast by a nice colleague of mine up in the sky while I’m seated on a crew seat (jump seat) smiling…when I’m looking at these hand written lines on a Singapore hotel paper from where I came…when did I? Not long ago. I don’t live in time and space anymore, at least not I normal people’s time and space.
After my isolation/prison time aka quarantine in Korea I came up with my own smart emergency kit containing everything from socks to sanitizer. I guess you can never be to brave as here I am after a sleepless night after scoring almost 24 sleepless hours soon at 40000 ft altitude, in my off days, on a jump seat with 100 call bells in my year as I’m trying to sleep in an airplane kitchen. My list didn’t consider this situation and I guess the future holds so many unknown possibilities and situation that you can never foresee all. The truth is that you can never be clever enough to encounter all the unforeseeable in life. At least not the one in my life. And I am very intuitive, I might say it’s my most precious quality.
For nights and nights I was thinking what my mission is life is. Yet, I don’t know, but for sure I was given a precious gift to be able to travel and see so much by someone about who I am in a personal confusion right now.
From where I’m seated I look back and see all the cabin (airplane interior) and actually all I see is the ceiling screens showing a world glove and it’s exactly what I want to see and I’m where I want to be.
On the flight I meet a Greek colleague and she tells me that my hotel is in the worst area ever in Athens – drugs, prostitution, Africans with no documents, fights, killings. OMG! And I chose the best area in Athens, but for some kind of reason I ended up booking a non-refundable room here. Great!
Arriving in Athens
I have landed and the EU line is together with diplomatic passports. Nobody! Fast track for me! I pay the train ticket by euros. Ooh…I missed them so much!
From the airport there is a train every half an hour to Syntagma, a central station from where you can change to any destination and I am going to my terrifying neighborhood hotel. The train from the airport was frightening. Pickpockets everywhere. Entertainers asking for money, swearing on the ones who don’t take the euros out.
This is the European Union? Shit! I am tired and I might be paranoia, but I’ve rarely felt so unsafe as in the airport shuttle to the city which is normally known to be the safest. The first hotel I allegedly booked for the same date next year which is my fault, but the terrible surroundings are not my fault for sure. Nobody on the streets. Nobody. If every third street there was somebody it was a person having the looks like they’re about to commit some crime. Stupid thieves – I say this because I know some damn skilled ones – staring at your pockets, purses, belongings. Thank God I found this 60 year old local whom I stuck to.
Amazing enough whole classes of high school graduates came to study here. It was my dream to study abroad, but right at the moment of my graduation I let it go. It is not in my capacity to evaluate any education system, but at the moment I could not refrain from commenting that if one wants to study abroad they shouldn’t bother with Greece. But I’m a bitch. What did I do with my university degree? Many things, but there’s no ink for that as what I do now does not require more than high school passing grade.
The hotel is 10 minute walk from the metro station. Athens is really not the best in these areas. Nobody on the streets, ugly signs on the walls, no shops, everything closed or abandoned. I finally make it and the hotel is so loud, so many people and I am only dreaming about a white bed. I’m mad and I ask the receptionist if this area is safe, what is this area like on a not so friendly tone. She says …yeees! Ok, you so convinced me. My Greek friend told me under no circumstances to be alone on the streets at night. – Do you want to check in? – I’m still thinking.
Ok, the internet is not working, so I guess I have no other choice. Ok, I want to check in. Looking for my reservation. Again and again. Nothing. I fell like in my Beirut story, but this time I really was expecting to be a reservation there. Ok, nothing… – I booked on booking.com – Nothing… – Can’t you call and ask? – You have to call… (I’m really mad and I’m thinking about the shit review I’m going to give them on tripadvisor)
After 10 more minutes a guy comes back trying not to laugh: – Your reservation is next year. Same date, but next year.
How did this happen and how it all happens to me I don’t know, but I became amused too. He was nice enough to give me the internet password after trying to sell me a room for the double amount of the whole stay for only one night, adding he’s only trying to help, after saying there are no free rooms. Whatever!
Finally Settling In
By the acropolis Museum I smell the fragrance of the white and pink flowers. The best things in life are for free.
I am in the city in a restaurant is at the bottom of Acropolis, 20 meters away from my hotel, where one flight of steps at each corner lead to the ancient monument. A blonde kid runs so fast down the hill where our tables are and jumps at the same time while I eat the roe and olives salad with homemade bread while sipping some Greek wine from Halkidiki. The guides I took to study praise the glorious past. Because there’s nothing much to praise about when it comes to the present. And the news say there’s no future.
In the restaurant, next to me, a young couple of about 40 – the couple is for 40 years – is kissing. I am at a table on some … Rocks in my white and blue stripes T-shirt just a few steps from the hotel. The hotel looks like what we were given about 10 years ago on the Romanian seaside. Now, I feel just amused remembering those times so vividly and more than content to get rid of the freaky zone of my first hotel.
My glass of wine is tiny and I pour from a small bottle. The couple behind me is adorable, they speak to each other on what to visit. Nothing exaggerated, just normal pleasant common routine. The hardest to achieve. The lamb with potatoes and feta is so hot that I drink a lot of wine. With my new passion aka job I accumulate a lot of tiredness, because…I simply cannot sleep. Because I can. When I’m tired I get thoughts, my demons coming out. Bad ones, not the cute ones. The ones I’ve always had and always admitted to have. Sometimes I lie, but I’ve never pretended to be what I’m not.
A blue-eyed dumb and innocent face states at me every now and then and does not look away when our eyes meet. I’m wondering how I look like when I interact with customers. The waiter and table singers, casino dealer and dedication singers – my friends worldwide.
A lady asks for desert and the waiter with the most sick of life face and voice repeats after her. Dessert, dessert, dessert, yes, yes, yes, dessert. I don’t know if I should laugh or not, but I understand him and I feel like I see my colleagues sometimes.
The table is in a steep terrain that I need to straighten my legs not to fall. I still haven’t read the guide and places to see about Athens and I’m in that I don’t give a beep moment. I’m just enjoying this amazing lamb under the shade if some leaves under an 4th century monument and I see my small hotel like it was in the same garden, I can go to sleep anytime – I should use some, 29hrs now, but that’s everyday life – I can climb few steps and I’m in Acropolis, souvenirs are 5 meter away and I don’t need to leave an 1 sq km area. Of course, that is not going to happen and I will adventure myself in some new places and experiences, like usual.
Before going out, I checked the rooftop terrace of our hotel and the view is quite good. I must be very tired since I don’t feel like taking pictures.
I want to ask this couple how long they’ve been together for, but I’m afraid of their answer. It might be one year. Because truly happy people don’t care what people say.
I’m starting to be dizzy and it’s not because of the wine.
I asked the hotelkeeper about the area where my previous hotel was and she said she did not hear of any drug addicts doing something to anybody. Whaat? I’m not shocked of the fact, but of the easiness with which she said it.
I came here (to Doha, Qatar) to see the world, but now I have started having ambitions. And when I have my ambition activated…
Each destination gives me ideas for other places to visit. Cuba…My love Central America. Soon.
Now let’s explore the surroundings.
I discovered a new chic café where is is always full, that kind of place you discover on the labyrinth streets of Athens – the city of ruins. Ancient ruins, recent ruins, economy and Euro zone ruins. She is wearing a jumpsuit without the sleeves with small and pastel print and he’s in jeans wearing a long sleeved dress and plastic blue shades. They both hold the hand of an adorable around 10 years old girl.
Cats are enjoying their forever siestas. For some kind of reason one with a half white half brown face comes and sits by my feet.
In the roaring zum of the overlapping voices, I hear the silence. Give each city a chance – I’ve said it myself.
I followed my sense of direction and I arrived exactly at the street where my hotel is. At this corner a pink scooter was parked and a young lady took the interview of an artist who has a showroom there. He looked exactly like an artist – clothing, hair, attitude. He on purpose theatrically turned around and looked at my ass so then everybody looked, too.
Then a motorcycle passed with a huge dog in a wood box. In front of my hotel the scooter stopped, the dog jumped out and the scooter continued his way, like in a show that’s been rehearsed hundreds of times.
Under my hotel a souvenir shop is located and I take pictures of the huge Turkish eye signs. I turn right to buy some water from the store I spotted while having the lamb and a girl in short jeans passes with her zipper opened. I hold her hand in the movement. – Your zipper…(it was opened) – It broke (and continued walking and not caring her zipper is open)
I buy stuff and pay to a very sad and drunk shop attendant, outside I get upset of this guy not protecting his pregnant lady/sister/friend on the very narrow walking area by the very narrow street. I am so lucky! I am in the heart of Athens from the slums, the drugs and prostitution.
Maybe I’m crazy, but I wait for signs, I think I get them, I interpret and rely on them. When there were about 28 hrs without sleep, two flights and a lot of running, changing hotels, I was not sure I made the right choice, I did not know if I was right or not. But then, when a butterfly appears on your path – you know.
I slept dead with the window opened in my tiny but very cozy room. I have been to luxury hotels all around the world for years, but for some kind of reason this low range family hotel makes me feel so good. You should see my room, my hangers all different and my irregular shaped bathroom.
Second Day in Athens
I’m having breakfast looking at the rain breathing the fresh air coming from the slightly opened window. Rain sends tourists away and makes room for me. My favorite season is rain.
There’s a small library in the reception. For me, if there are books, there’s love. I carry my airplanes manual with me all the time. Fair enough I have not had time for books since I’m here, but for now there’s no plan to slow down my lifestyle.
I like well represented details like this foot with sandal in Acropolis Museum. I’m wandering when the time for riding horses will come – there is a time for everything. I’m in Greece and as I remember the long talks in the almost monthly trips he took for years to see me, he writes me. Greek columns and gods, symbols of worship, fantastic horses, perfect bodies and missing limbs.
People dream of the Greek times and imagine themselves leading back then saying that nowadays there’s nothing like that, forgetting how everything is possible today, how there are humans who detain full powers, true gods on earth, who only confirm the theory that birth is not by chance, that we have a purpose, a mission in life, a destiny to fulfill.
On the window in front of me, in the Acropolis Museum, I see the Acropolis and 12 small head representations of gods and as I see that, I know exactly what the plan for tomorrow is.
From the most upper floor of the Museum you can see three floors down through the glass floors. The horses in the museum have distinct individuality. I feel like I need to refine my writing.
My eyes are blurred because of yesterday’s long day, but I’m in my travel mode and nothing matters. I take a double espresso at the café between the 1st and 2nd floor of Acropolis Museum looking at Acropolis’ columns.
I feel like writing and writing.
I’m trying to analyze myself from angles. For most of it I know where the troubles are and I am not denying them, but sometimes I don’t feel like fighting my demons, so I just ignore them. And I have quite some.
There are rumors about a certain hotel that ghosts come at night, but I know they will not bother me. Or they will attack me like crazy. There’s no middle point, but I’m sure of the first option.
Two about ten year old sisters are hugging as their mother takes a picture of them by the Acropolis and I know I will have at least two children, even though I wished I had four.
It is the certainties in life that I’m denying. I don’t have doubts or not many. If it’s bad, I’m sure it’s bad and I still don’t care.
During my last months of travel I reached some certainties and now I simply ignore them. This year I’m taking to travel should be revelatory.
I’m looking through a huge glass at the Acropolis and I’m thinking about who made it, maybe a small family business at its’ third generation decided to become better and better and made what the rest of the manufacturers said it’s impossible.
There are ideas I adore and keep with me overtime. The one about fighting the possible to create the impossible fascinates me.
As I write, my thoughts fly away. Firstly, to my diary I was writing when I was about 14-15 years old and let me reassure you it was quite mature. After that came the immaturity years, but I was tailored like this to experiment everything early.
I don’t know where life might lead my steps, but as of now I think it will be more of arts and travel rather than law and security.
Before, I could not understand these kind of bohemian people and most of the time I labeled them as dirty when they were so free.
Curiosity is the only thing that makes me think of marriage. More than 10 years ago I said I will only get a boyfriend one day before I get married only to marry another. Time proved I might be right.
The ticketing guy at the Acropolis looks at me through the people in the queue in front of me and lids a cigarette. I love I don’t give a beep people.
Walking down Adrianou Street there are shops, art galleries, leather and fur goods shops.
I’m in Anafiotika, a restaurant I have spotted yesterday.
I remember exactly the place, the café where my alone travels started. I cannot find in the drawers of my mind the city where it was and I cannot ask anyone for obvious reasons. It was a Egyptian themed café in a faraway city from my hometown and I felt a weird feeling of freedom which I get now a lot in many cafes in many faraway corners of the world. Lucky me!
Careless whisper plays at the café next to me which is literally one step away on some stairs, on a cute narrow Greek street and the bailout of Greece was extended until the end of the year. Being where news happen – priceless! Same is finding out the news before it’s broadcasted, but that is a different story…
Sitting in Sissifos Restaurant, back in the area where I ate lunch at the basis of the Acropolis, I am writing again by hand. I looked at a 50 year young man who was seated and he asked if I wanted a small restaurant and I did. I was walking like a lost hungry sheep, but he found me. Ah…restaurant keepers how much I love them – their wit with people, their true wickedness.
The narrow streets are my childhood mystery dream. Adorable corners with pink Mediterranean flowers and small windows. Flights of stairs and balustrades painted in intense blue.
I’m glad he does not ask if I’m alone because it’s obvious. He asks me to follow the waiter carrying a tray full of goodies on his shoulder. Then he offers me the best table. Again. I don’t know what I was doing in my previous life, but the waiters, table singers are my friends. Worldwide. And it’s not because I (might be) pretty because I saw some of them treated badly.
There are steps leading to the terrace where I am, coming from the main steps going down from the Acropolis. Everything is irregular, more or less improvised in the most adorable way and whatever was ugly it was painted in bright colors. My ceiling is the sky and the still raw grapes and lamps are hanging from it – a true sky wine yard. Some grapes I’m sipping right now two with the biggest basil lamb with roasted potatoes. I’m enjoying my trip alone.
I’m not sure if I’m becoming more individualist or I’m evolving. I’m sure. I’m going the right way.
The owner brings a young man from his arm and literally puts him no my table: “Here is … from Iasi”. He is a bit embarrassed, but he’s very nice.
The church bells are ringing while I am thinking of my current life as opposed to my previous one. True, I was an amazing aspiring young lawyer with great background and bright future. Prestige and recognition. (In reality – keyboard and lost nights).
Now…I’m in the small traditional Greek restaurant in Athens, I just came from…where? (flying makes you forget. A lot. Lose your memory I mean) Cape Town, South Aftica, where I’ve seen the most Southern point of the world, the end of the world. Before that I had dinner and wine by the bay and saw the most amazing view from Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, visited temples and palaces in Seoul and was in quarantine in Incheon (Seoul Airport), I saw the sea and the mountains in Beirut, Lebanon, the lions in Johannesburg, the Red Square in Moscow. I’m not even sure it is true what I’m living.
In my head the same song is playing over and over again: Leaving on a jet plane.
I have NO plans for the future and NO worries. I don’t want to save money and buy things. All I want is to travel the world, evolve, meet people, polish my language skills, find out things. So I don’t want to buy, I want to find. No more wishes to win cases and draft the best articles of incorporation (statute of a company).
I want to live, sing, fly. To be forever young. As spirit, not as age. I already have white hair and I’m young. Though I care for my looks as a person who respects herself and others, I don’t bother too much. There’s other things I’m proud of. Am I a bit nostalgic about the 5 years I spent in a law firm? Sometimes I think about my office, my place, my coffee mug.
I am doing everything I am supposed to do and I don’t do what I have to…I’m only fighting myself and it’s the hardest battle.
The whole afternoon I walked through Athens with a golden olive diadem and attracted all the looks. I love it – it’s my kind of souvenir, the one that I want to see in my home after a few years.
Most of this post was written by hand. With my left hand, because that’s the one I write with. But I ran out of paper. Sometimes I feel like writing rivers.
My life goes on worldwide. I cut my hair, do my laundry and nails, plan my time, get rest and do my groceries around the world. I am so happy inside that it is difficult to show it out.
I’m in Brettos and I might have had some wine. The menu comprises hundreds of wines so I open it, close it and ask for the best one. Then I laugh by myself like an idiot. Then I see liqueurs of different tastes and ask for hazelnut. – How is it? – Like juice.
I watch the waiter making mojitos. Hmmm! From now on I know what to do with the mint onboard.
Last day in Athens
I really feel like 10 years ago. After waking up with all the liquors and wines in my head and having breakfast in the same place and same table eating the same thing as yesterday, I started walking through the labyrinth streets, where shop keepers just open for the day. People start walking, motorbikes start rolling, the restaurants bring in new fresh meat and vegetables. Every now and then someone shouts Kalimera.
I’m having ice coffee with whoever is off – losers, retired people and tourists. Two 70 year olds in suits ate having coffee. One of them laughs and laughs and laughs. Underdog (close to Akropoli), Tailormade (close to Monastiraki and Syntagma) and The Clumsies – in case you are in Athens, try them.
It’s time to go now back home to Doha from Athens, a place that takes its name from goddess Athena, the daughter of Zeus and Methis, who was Ocean’s daughter – who knew more than gods or men.
P.S.: Before I saw in magazines people who lived in two or three cities and it seemed amazing to live in London, New York and Paris at the same time, but now, after just couple of months of flying I’m thinking how in the world am I going to live in just one or two places?