Monday, May 4, 2009

a less-than-impressive market

well i must say, after so long doing this, i feel i have become a market/bazaar/craft sale expert or something like that. yesterday was the weekly athens sunday market (in addition to the normal everyday market) and if i do say so, in my humble opinion, it was a bit of a letdown. especially after bangkok in general and the martinburogh fair in nz. there were shops all lining the main streets, and the propriaters hocked their wares as everyone passed, practically attacking if one showed so much as a flutter of intererst, or even in some cases, slowed in front of their establishment. really this meant that one had to walk at a steady pace without stoping along the streets, and certainly not touch anything (that's practically saying i'll buy it) and therefor, i didn't even contemplate a single purchase. good for me as i'm trying to keep a firm hand on the funds, but not good for those who might benefit by aquiring some of those funds were i to wish to buy something. the side streets and alleyways were a bit more interesting, seeming like a really large unorganized yardsale with idems strewn haphazardly across the street. here i saw many things i would have loved to collect were i living in a house instead of out of a backpack. things like old ship wheels, glorious pottery and an splendid plale yellow birdcage shaped like some spectacular arabian nights palace. but sadly, my bag is not built like mary poppins and i cannot squeeze in impossibly large things, therefor, i must look, and be sad, and turn away and let them go. today i went out with a greek sandal mission and no acceptance of the word no. the perfect sandals have been eluding me for weeks now and i was determined to scour them out and locate their hiding place. i checked every nook and cranny and walked all over plaka for hours till i discovered a street that was all sandals and i could just take my pick. i ended up going a bit more roman holiday than gladiator, and found some lovely sandals that will proceed to adorn my feet for the duration of my journey. they are pleased and so am i.
and before i depart, a few more observations about greece and europe/europeans:
1. one can smoke everywhere and everyone does, and all the time. it's impressive and distressing simaltaneously. and smoking and non smoking tables will be located side by side. on the trains, the smokers jostle full of elbows, near the doors, cigarette and lighter in hand, ready to spring out and rush for the free air as soon as the train doors begin to open. often i will see people walking down the street, with a lit cigarette in their mouth and a fresh one ready in their hand for the moment when their current one expires.
2. no one is in a hurry but everyone is hurrying?
3. beggers are unbelievable. i saw a woman sitting on a cardboard box holding a cross begging people 'for the love of god' or something similar in greek, hunched and pathetic looking. across the street i witnessed another lady walk up to here and exchange a few swift words, then talk her place on the box, and as the original begger walked away, the replacement rocked back and forth rubbing her cross and looking pathetic. i also saw a man sitting on the ground with a cup a ragged dog and grubby hands, pause to pull a shimmering new cell phone out of his pocket when i began an obnoxious ring.
4. when going out to eat, one must never assume that something placed on the table you have not in fact ordered, is complimentary. resteraunts and cafes will bring bread, olivesand sometimes even water, and then when leaving, one will discover that they have sneakily made their way onto the bill. supposudly they must notify everyone of this on their menu but the must write the warning in greek.

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