Saturday, September 16, 2017
Six a.m. came early and with it our ride to the airport. We guzzled down just enough coffee to crack open our eyes and finish packing. The ride was smooth and we stopped a couple of times on our way to Otopeni, the main airport in Bucharest, Romania. The Greek welcome came in flight in the shape of a Melekouni sesame cookie, a traditional honey and sesame seed sweet bar, given in Rhodes at weddings or christenings.
The short flight from Bucharest to Athens landed around noon on a hot and steamy day. We paid the 6 euros for the bus ticket and embarked the X96 towards Pireus. At our stop, Nosokomio, we got off and proceeded to drag our roller bags down the noisy sidewalks towards my dearest friends’ home. The walk we now did 6 times, brings back good memories, almost like going home.
Our sweet friend was waiting for us with a large smile and warm embrace. The furry friends Rex and Bonnie were also glad to see us although they had just met us.
Our friends’ house is right across from the Mediterranean and on certain days, there is a fresh market right down the street. We didn’t want to miss out on the occasion so, after we dropped off the bags, we took a quick tour of the fresh market. The olives are my favorite: so many types and looking so amazing. We chatted with the local vendors – even if we didn’t speak Greek and they didn’t speak much English – and learned that the green olives are simply young olives, which turn darker as they ripen. I tasted some of each and triumphantly carried a bag of them home. The pomegranates were poised for a photo op and the vendor told me how to shoot their best angle: from above. He tossed a pomegranate to my husband as he wished us a good evening. What a warm welcome! I must learn some Greek…
As any true European welcome, food was on the agenda. Our Greek friends took us to George’s where the traditional Greek salad with a healthy helping of feta on top and a nice glass of red wine kick-started our dinner. We feasted on keftedakia with potatoes, eggplant spread, tzatziki, and steamed greens.
After a short walk, we rested at a café terrace with a café freddo and a healthy discussion about life.
The evening came with a live outdoors concert on the beach of Glyfada. The mayor of Glyfada reassured the audience that the recent oil spill from a nearby tanker didn’t affect the local waters. The concert went on past the time we left and our first day in Greece concluded with a refreshing shower and a much-needed long sleep.