Guns and Frocks

Loving Delta and the Bannermen since 1987

Strike three

Wednesday 19 March 2008

I had a bit of a ceramics day yesterday. There were no trains running, and I was reluctant to attempt the buses, so I was restricted to places within easy walking distance of the hotel. Fortunately, that included the National Archaelogical Museum and the Kerameikos.

I had visited the museum the day before, but by the time I reached the pottery collection on the top floor, I had pretty much had enough. I briefly walked through all the rooms in reverse chronological order, only stopping to look at the occasional pretty or unusual piece.

This time I had a few hours to walk through the whole collection, in order. And I was glad I did. Everything was very clearly described and explained, and there were beautiful examples of the different techniques and types of vessels. By the end, I knew a lot more than I had when I arrived.

More souvlaki for lunch, and then the last of the archaeological sites on my list. The Kerameikos was where a lot of the pottery was made, and although the ruins are now little more than square brick outlines, there is a small museum there with more pottery and grave markers. I wandered around for a while, marvelling at the tortoises and the flowers, looking up at the Acropolis, and trying to imagine Athens 2500 years ago.

On my way back to the hotel, I started to notice ominous signs on the telegraph poles. Brightly coloured signs, prominently featuring the word apergía and the date March 19. I went back to my local pub and decided to have an early night and not to worry too much about it.

Of course, I couldn’t sleep. I’ve had a fun few weeks travelling on my own, but I’m really looking forward to travelling in Japan with Calvin. It was like Christmas Eve: I couldn’t sleep till nearly midnight, and I was wide awake at 4.30 am.

And good thing too. The signs were advertising a general strike in protest at the changes to pensions the Greek government is planning to bring in tomorrow. When I checked out at 5.30, hoping to get to the airport in time for my flight at 8.55, the reception guy said that there would be no buses or trains or taxis today.

But 5.30 in the morning was early enough for the strike not to have kicked in yet, and I managed to get a cab to the airport, for only a couple of euros less than the cost of the previous night at the hotel. After spending a couple of hours wrestling with the ancient Windows machines in Athens Airport’s crappy first-class lounge (darling!), I’m now in the air about three hours from Heathrow, where I catch my flight to Tokyo.