2005 -- Biking and Exploring Greece

June 14 -- Athens-- Toothache -- Ancient Ruins
After Egypt, Athens seems like a city of women.  The metro from the airport into town is filled with women, mostly young, attractive and very casually dressed in scimpy, beachy outfits.  Everyone looks hip and stylish.  We suddenly feel drab and "LL Beanish" as Tass says, in our multi-functional traveling clothes. We have a major culture shock with prices.  The cheapest hotel we can find is a hostel where we pay 50 euros, about $62 US for a dorm room we share with two guys, a Belgium and an American from Ohio (at last we are seeing Americans everywhere here in Greece!). Ouch!
Our first priority is to get Tass' tooth fixed.  Our hotel owner suggests a dentist, but he ends up not speaking English.  Once he starts work Tass loses all confidence when he clumsily slices open her inflamed gum.  Totally freaked, she can't get out of the chair fast enough.  We check the US State Department website and pick the name of another dentist, a woman, and make an appointment for the next day.
We came through Athens at the end of our world bike tour in 1986, and cycled north through Greece into Yugoslavia.  At that time work was being done on the Parthenon, and our pictures included some scaffolding.  This time there is even more scaffolding!  And heaps more tourists.  We get plenty of photos of archeologists working, but have to be very creative to get more asthetic pictures of the Acropolis.
We are staying near the Acropolis, an area jam packed with outdoor cafes.  Our supper is delicious, thick fresh baked bread dipped in olive oil and vinegar, a variety of olives, Greek salad with feta cheese, tasty moussaka, eggplant in tomato sauce, and a carafe of red wine.
June 15 --More Dentists
It is a one hour metro ride to the suburbs to dentist #3.  Helen looks like she just came off the beach, wearing a tank top, capris, and colorful thong sandals.  She speaks great English and tells us she went to school in Boulder, CO.  She looks at Tass for just one minute, announces that Tass needs a root canal, and calls a colleague who can do the proceedure.  An appointment is made for 2 pm that day.
We spend the interim at an internet cafe, then Tass goes to dentist #4, who speaks minimal English, for her root canal.  The procedure requires two sessions, Tass will have to return the day after tomorrow to finish up.
June 16 -- Artwork -- Sidewalk Cafes
We visit more ancient ruins. Our favorite is the Temple of the Olympian Zeus.  Orgianally had hundreds of giant columns, now only 15 remain standing but impressive nonetheless.  We see many statues with arms, legs and heads knocked off.  Yet even defaced they are magnificent.  The folds in the fabric of the clothes seem so real.  It is a testament to the artwork that even these small fragments evoke a wonder and appreciation for what the ancient cities must have been like. 
Tass' jaw is sore, yet she is bouyant at getting the tooth issue resolved.  We relax mid afternoon at a sidewalk cafe where we meet Mike, a 79 year old Greek physician who was raised in Cairo, speaks Arabic, Greek, English, Italian and French.  He tells us he was married 52 years to a wonderful woman.  When she died he met a 39 year old Brazilian mathamatician, and they have been married seven years.  They now live in Chicago, where his wife is.  "She works too much," he says, "She is very serious."  Mike travels to Greece and Europe a couple of months each year.  He takes us under his wing, buys little side dishes and wine to complement our meal, jovially bosses the waiters around, making sure they attend to our every need, and entertains us greatly with his stories.
In the evening we climb the highest hill in Athens to watch the sunset and make photos of the city lights.

June 17 -- Root Canal
Tass returns to finish the root canal.  The two-day ordeal costs 200 euros ($250 US), including a 50 euro discount for "no reciept", i.e. paying in cash.  Tass looks in shock when she comes out.  She had to ask for additional novacain three times. Her whole face is numb and sore.  I suggest we go back to the hotel for a nap.  I am exhausted and I wasn't even in the dentists chair. But Tass insists we head straight for the National Archeological Museum, she wants to see it before the novacain and wears off.  Ooookkaayyy....
June 18
The reality of Tass' surgery and all the stress finally catches up with her, and me.  We were going to leave Athens today.  Neither of us are even packed, and we both want a day to relax.  We sleep in, then treat ourselves to a leisurely breakfast at a great sidewalk cafe.  We nap, Tass reads while I catch up on some journaling.  We eat supper again with Mike, the Greek doctor, and late in the evening meet up with in-laws from my step-moms side of the family who just flew in on vacation. 
Tass's tooth still hurts, and still can only chew on one side of her jaw.  We tell ourselves it is from the root canal trauma, and it will surely subside soon. 

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