Monday, March 7, 2011

Athens Day 2

Plan A: hoof it down from the hotel to Starbucks and just have the standard order rather than the full breakfast: 1 vente cappucino with soya milk and an extra shot; 1 vente skinny latte; 2 blueberry muffins . . . but starbucks was closed -- rather it was not yet open . . . that is, not open for business, rather than merely shuttered til some later time -- we had waited till a sure time, we'd tho't . . .  we were perplexed for we tho't we'd seen it open from down the street.

Plan B: I said, "the museum's bound to have a cafe', we'll get something there." and we hoofed it over to the National Gallery . . . not in a straight line, for we were perplexed again by the streets. . . maybe our tourists maps lacked a little detail or something . . . we walked the wrong way, misinterpreting several signs, then backtraced past the same monuments, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, etc, till we found the right street and marched on . . . the Starbucks had seemed further than we realized, and the museum was 4 times a far, on foot. We got there and got in with no trouble, but then I couldn't find the cafe . . . "we could look at art, anyway, on an empty stomach" offered Mrs, but I knew that was no good. So I asked one guard. "Downstairs" she said. But downstairs, still stymied, I asked another . . . peevishly, she pointed, right then another right . . . it was like a secret passageway . . . 
this is where we sat, looking at where we had come from . . . down the long hall. We settled for Toastis & Cappucinos Grande . . . by that time, it all seemed really good. Not Amsterdam good, but almost.
Thus refreshed, we headed out into the museum . . . the first thing we saw was this rendition of one of my favorite themes:
Lo, Leda & the Gander
the Gentle Philander . . . 
The main thrust of the visiting exhibit was Paris 1900, that is, the artists of Paris in 1900 . . . art nouveau, etc . . . but the one that grabbed us, that we went back to see 2 or 3 times, was this very large painting of Sarah Bernhardt by Clairin, 1896 . . . 
Oh, no, I don't know why . . . Mrs said, "oooh, I'd like to lounge around in a dress like that" which I admit appealed to me, too . . . she's so insouciant, with her little mule of a shoe clinging to her tiny foot . . . I bought a poster, giddy with the anticipation of it hanging on our wall, framed like our other trophies. Let me spoil the story: it got lost going thru security at the airport. I think it's irreplaceable.
The Permanent Collections are very interesting, if not particularly noteworthy.

As we exited, after buying my poster, we were agog at the crowd. The main first room was totally full of people, listening to a lecture about the Paris 1900 exhibit -- it was the last day, we realized. The line of people trying to get in, still, snaked for 2 or 3 hundred meters out the door. We were lucky to have gotten in-and-out before the crush.

We headed next to the Benaki, which is on the same avenue. . . we'd actually passed it going to the National Gallery. This is not so much fine-art (which we prefer) as it is a cultural museum, but we still found it interesting. 
I took this because my artist daughter is / has been interested in this particular figure, the Earth_Mother . . . I mean, this is a very late version of it, er, uh, Her, but still, there it is . . . er, uh, she is . . .
These Gold Laurel Wreaths would inspire me to super human efforts.
I am totally taken by these gold serpent bracelets. Would go well with the gold laurel wreath, if you know what I mean.

I guess the statuary was so dinged up I didn't bother taking a snap . . . there was a lot of it, but all noseless, or headless, or torsoless. We also enjoyed the furniture and coutour exhibits.

When we walked over to Karavitas Taverna, also recommended in the Times article, taking routes we hadn't before, I spied  more street art . . . 
which I just tho't was a funny little character . . . 
but this other face, has some je ne sais quois
It is somehow comforting to know that they call Greek Salad Greek Salad in Greece, too. Unlike French Fries or Brussells Sprouts, if you see how I mean. Uniformly huge brick of feta cheese, onions, peppers, tomatos, cucumbers, and kalamata olives . . . the only complaint I might make, and it really is a matter of personal taste, is that the kalamatas at Doris were better to me, firmer flesh, and less-bitter. This really is the most garlicky & solid tzatziki, ever . . . a little too much, with the salad for us, or with bread . . .  
The fried meatballs had a minty component that just knocked Mrs out . . . they were awfully good.
The lamb chops were, let us say, peasant style, rather than gourmet style . . . irregular cuts, cooked very well, but very, um, gamey. I loved them, especially with the tzatziki.
they gave us a complimentary dessert, some sponge cake with some liquor on it. Entirely forgettable.

Walking back to the hotel, thru the National Gardens, we passed this objet d'art . . . at least 30 ft tall, which makes the photo problematic . . . 

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