Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sunday in Athens

Well, the late Saturday night you spent at the rembitika club means you COULD sleep late but then you’d miss the best part of the day! Sunday in Athens is a day for strolling, pawing through flea markets and swilling tiny cups of coffee with your friends in outdoor cafes.

The Monastiraki Flea Market is open every day, but on Sunday it really fills up and is home to the most gawdawful junk, true antiques and rare finds. The hunt is the thing!!

When the clubs wind down at 5 am or so the flea market gears up! The flea market really does spread for miles, filling streets and alleys and is comprised of tiny stores, or street booths, carts and blankets spread on the ground. The ubiquitous African immigrants with their grimy swag blankets of knock-off purses/watches/electronics/CDs are sprinkled through the crowd like pepper. The meaner Greek teens will holler POLIZIA just to watch them scatter. But I rather like them - I mean honestly, where else can one get a REAL Dolce and Gabbana purse AND a Louis Vuitton suitcase for 5 bucks?

I love prowling the old brass shops. These have probably been there since the Turkish brass and coppersmiths established the Monastiraki area a few hundred years ago. Elaborate samovars, simple copper kettles, goat bells and church lamps hang from ceiling hooks. Makes me want to get out the polish! There are booths specializing in old LPs, vintage movie posters from the 30s, antique toys, silver, china, chandeliers, books and stamps. There are obvious family heirloom portraits of forgotten great grandmothers, perhaps an anonymous 19th century bride’s wedding headdress, daggers, grim souvenirs from the German invasions of WW2, fine linens and – my very favourite – old beat up musical instruments – bouzouki and kithara in every size and condition – lots of reed instruments – clarinets and saxophones and enough brass tubas, bugles and trumpets to gladden the heart of any chain store interior decorator. (Sorry Ian – no bagpipes that I could see). No baseball cards here, but lots of old men with plastic photo albums displaying their collections of modern phone cards and obsolete drachmas. Who knew they were collectible? I must own a fortune in spent phone cards by now!

Once you negotiate for that must-have treasure, you can squeeze into a seat along Thission – the edge of the Agora and people watch. By the way, the Agora offers free admission on Sundays and, when the weather is fine, you will see old men taking their canary cages out to give their birds a bit of a stroll in this area - lovingly cooing to them as they walk. The hurdy gurdy man will amble by, the gypsy kids will try to wheedle a few coins out of you for a Bic lighter or a rose and if you look up high – no, higher… over the top of the acropolis, you can see the golden eagles soaring.

Coffee blends into lunch by 3pm…… then it’s time for ice cream or a sweet….. and eventually dinner. So what did YOU do this Sunday?

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