It’s adventure time. Yippee!
Once again, the impetus for this trip is house/pet sitting. Having checked off a number of destinations on my travel wishlist, I added Greece and Croatia earlier this year, which means Mike had his specially tuned opportunity radar scanning those places along with the usual others.
Within months of adding these destinations—bing-bang-boom, abracadabra, and shaZAM!—we got a request to fill in for caretakers who had to cancel. The call came from Leros, a small Greek island a few miles off the coast of Turkey. (Check out the Dodecanese Islands map on this page if you want to see where Leros is.)
The dates worked. It sounded like fun. Let’s do it!
So we are living on board a now permanently docked yacht, Tricia, with a crippled kitty named “Roo.” We also feed and tend to another five healthy, independent, and loveable cats at a house two miles away.
Arriving in Greece
We made our way around the planet slowly, with some long layovers between flights. We entered the EU in Zurich, then continued on to Athens, where we caught up with Mike’s sister, who joined us for three weeks of touring before we settled down on Leros.
The first order of business was to figure out the Athens metro system. It wasn’t hard, what with the help of an English-speaking ticket agent: We needed to take the blue line to the red line, then get off at the Acropolis. We had rented an apartment around the corner from the Acropolis.
Mike had looked up the apartment’s address and studied maps, so he had a sense of where to go from the Acropolis metro station. What we lacked was an apartment number and a cell phone that works in Europe.
We found the apartment building, and Mike even snuck inside when a resident came out, but he didn’t climb quite high enough to find our apartment (not that he would have recognized it as such) nor did he recognize the initials on the buzzer outside the door, which are those of the owner’s business name rather than her name.
The three of us hemmed and hawed in a tiny circle of a park at the end of the block, wondering who would either come up with a bit of magic to blink ourselves inside or screw up the courage to ask someone for help.
Asking for help is my job, and as uncomfortable as it may make me at times, I feel obliged to step up. (My bravery and social abilities come and go, and after a long day—or two long days—they are gone.) This is my role in our traveling trio. Somehow, of the three of us, I’m best equipped to power through this kind of situation.
I approached a kind-looking, older woman who was walking her dog in the little park. She didn’t speak English, but, lucky for us, she spoke Confused Traveler. She used her own cell phone to dial the number I pointed to on my paper. She knew enough to eliminate the 0030 country code. Then she handed me her phone, trusting me to not run off with it—or maybe not even registering that possibility.
Efi, the apartment architect and owner, was in the apartment, waiting for us. We met her at the door. She showed us up and around, explaining—in English—all the little details we needed to know, and giving us a rundown of local attractions and eateries.
Once again, I am grateful for multi-lingual people. We benefit greatly from the many people around the world who have taken the time and trouble to learn English. Ef-ka-ree-STO. (That’s my phonetic spelling of “thank you” in Greek. It seems okay to swallow the first syllable and say “ka-ree-STO.” Roll the r if you can.)
It was early evening. Besides eating and sleeping, we were eager to get a glimpse of the Acropolis, a visual toast to the next five days when we will explore the area more thoroughly.
Before the 2004 Olympics, Athens put in a walking path around the Acropolis, and it not only makes the site more accessible, it beautifies the area and brings both tourists and locals out, day and night, enjoying the exercise, scenery, sounds, and community. It’s a wonderful promenade.
We headed out on foot and did not get around the corner before being accosted by a restauranteur inviting us in to dinner—at our expense, mind you. Georgio and the neighboring restauranteur compete aggressively on the street for customers. Efi had given us a heads up about this. But we are the toughest of tough customers, impervious to their promises and pleas. The harder they try, the less likely we are to cave.
The illuminated Acropolis. We’re here!
Outside the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, a grand theater.
Closer, more thorough looks tomorrow!