We're changing things up this week! Instead of boat maintenance... it's house maintenance. Around August, we saw cheap flights on sale with Aegean and decided then and there that we'd book so we could spend a week in 'The Nest', our apartment in Athens, which is mainly rented on Airbnb.
With the exception that we failed to consider it was also Thanksgiving this week (so we missed spending that day with Sarah and Peter on Flying Fish - Happy Thanksgiving to all our American friends), it's proven to be an excellent choice and an enjoyable change of pace. At the same time we booked our flights, we messaged Shawn and Lyn on Yaama and arranged to meet them here with the idea that we'd be able to catch up and share a bit of "our Athens" with them.
As they've both been here before, it was an excellent excuse to skip the ruins and the museums (nothing wrong with the Acropolis, but a visit every few years is enough). Instead, we planned to dive into the neighbourhoods and lesser-known places throughout Athens. We were also all on the same page about Greek food! We love it, but after a month on an island (or in their case, Porto Cheli on the Peloponnese), it's lovely to be back in a bigger city where we can eat other food too.
Sunday, we had a quiet day on the boat, did a few jobs and prep for leaving (which often seems to involve eating up food!), then walked around the port to the end of the breakwater. The weather is getting cooler – the north winds now come down from the Arctic, and the temperature can drop significantly. However, when the sun comes up, it's usually still pleasant. We arranged a dinner at the marina restaurant on Sunday evening, and there were about 12 people there, which was a lot of fun.
Monday, it was off to Athens. It's great doing such a short flight. By the time we'd taken off, we were landing again! As it's been nine months since we were last at the apartment, it was an excellent chance to look at how it's holding up with fresh eyes, as there have been over 60 groups staying in the last 12 months.
While it was mostly in great shape, we needed to address a few small things. We are tightening handles that have come loose, deep cleaning the walls and repairing the backs of the vintage chairs where the veneer was starting to come apart. We arranged a meeting on Tuesday evening with our host Liroy and his team to go over it all and show some of the team the apartment as they hadn't seen it at night. It was a great success, and we've divided up a list of jobs, some for us and some for them, to ensure that the apartment stays in tip-top condition for us and the coming season. We're delighted with the work they've been doing for us, but it's healthy to have an annual review, too - apartments on Airbnb can take a few knocks, so reviewing and revisiting helps keep things fresh.
We also decided to replace a few "knick knacks" and a print or two placed when the apartment was decorated. While nothing was wrong with them, and they certainly did the job for a holiday rental, we're there often enough to feel like we needed to add a more personal touch. There's a photo we've been admiring from the store downstairs for 12 months, and every time we talk about the decoration with people, we've always followed up with, "But we wish we'd bought that one instead." So we did 😄
Shawn and Lyn arrived on Tuesday afternoon, so before we met with the apartment managers, we met them for coffee at Dope (my favourite coffee joint) and then did a bit of an orientation walk through the markets and Psyrii. It's a fun time to be in Athens (although it will be even better next week!) as all the Christmas lights are starting to go up, and everywhere is looking fancier in the evening.
Wednesday, we headed out early (boat early, like 9.30 AM) for a walk around the outside of the Ancient Agora and into Thisseo to Underdog, my second favourite coffee place here in Athens. They also make the best breakfasts around. From there, we went up to Phillopappou Hill, then back to the centre, where we split up to do some chores at the house, and they went shopping. In the evening, dinner was at one of our favourite places, Spit Jack, which does impressive rotisserie meats. Then, we took a walk to see the Christmas decorations going up in Syntagma, and we just happened to be there to see the changing of the guard at 9 PM.
I should also briefly mention that Lyn had their copy of "Footloose: Or How to Run Away to Sea" (amazon) in the apartment and asked me to sign it. Of course, I was happy to do it, but it was a strange feeling – definite "rock star" vibes 😆 It was also a special moment as it was the first time I'd physically held the book in my hands!
Thursday, Shawn and Lyn joined us in the apartment for breakfast, and we headed out for a street art tour of Athens through the back streets of Psyrii and over to my third favourite coffee joint in Athens, Taf. There may be a theme emerging here! Bao buns for lunch, then another break in the afternoon (more house maintenance for us) and we met for cocktails in the evening.
We headed to 'The Clumsies', voted one of the Top 50 cocktail bars in the world, and WOW, the cocktails were fantastic. We've never been, and now we're wondering why! Dinner at Naanwich - a fusion Greek / Indian place (not as weird as it sounds, butter chicken in naan presented as a Pita Wrap) - the food is fine, but what makes it special is the spectacular view of the Acropolis from the rooftop.
And that was it. The time went fast, but we loved catching up and sharing Athens with them. If anyone wants to visit, especially over winter, we're always up for returning and hanging out. There's so much to see and do; we'll find plenty to amuse us all.
Aside from the work on the apartment and spending time with Shawn and Lyn, there's been plenty of shopping and, for me, hanging out in cafes. I love working at my laptop in a cool cafe, drinking coffee, listening to music and writing. In fact, I'm here in Dope as I write this right now! Since finishing Footloose, I've continued to write and been casting around for the next thing. I've written around 30,000 words (not counting the blog in the last month), which is "half a Footloose".
Most of the writing has focussed on two books. The first is a finished novella (a completed story, but not a lot of meat on it), which I might turn into a book, but I'm still unsure. I've put it aside for now. The other is the first four chapters of a larger Sci-Fi work, which I've found my groove on here in Athens. Having successfully self-published, the goal for my next project is to try the traditionally published route. It's developing into a murder-mystery set in space, "firm sci-fi" (internally consistent, rational, not always realistic, but at the edge of believable that it might be one day). It's "gritty" with a Blade Runner vibe. Please let me know if anyone is interested in test reading for a SciFi work! The first four chapters are ready, and I'd love some alpha readers.
Karina took the chance to catch up with her rheumatologist. Her arthritis is behaving, although her ankle, unfortunately but expectedly, continues to stiffen up. She asked if, given everything was going well, this might be an excellent time to reduce some of the medications, to which his response was, "No, it means we keep doing exactly what we're doing!"
On Saturday, we spent some time shopping for knick-knacks, and we've replaced a few things on our shelves in the apartment. We also met up with another couple I've met online who were passing through Athens for a quick coffee. Then Karina and I headed to the other Top 50 Cocktail bar here, found it was closed until 7 pm, so went back to 'The Clumsies'. This time, we enjoyed a Cocktail Degustation - a selection of four half-serve cocktails that we shared.
Now, we'll see where the next few days take us. Probably more cafes, more shopping, more knick-knacks, more writing. Chilling out and having a relaxed time away from the boat. Then, on Tuesday, it's off to Edinburgh to spend time with Ella and Inge in a very chilly-looking Scotland!
Until next time,
Tim & Karina
PS - A big thanks to Seamus and others in Mytilene who kept an eye on Matilda in the 65 knot gusts overnight!