Monday, May 5, 2014

Leaving Greece

I did a bit of shopping and exploring of the fairly nondescript waterfront of Alexanderoupolis after visiting the museum.  I was hungry and in the mood for a glass of wine.  There were plenty of cafes lining the shoreline but they were filled with groups of friends and couples.  I am usually quite brave and nonplussed by entering a packed establishment... but I wasn't in the mood for gaiety and Greek noise.  I just wanted a quiet glass of wine and a little snack to tide me over to dinner.  I also wanted to find the recommended restaurant that I planned on dining at that same evening.  I didn't find the restaurant, and I didn't find a spot that was quiet. .  That spoke well for the Alexanderoupolis social scene, but it didn't do much for me.  I did find the small lighthouse that the area is famous for.  Not much to look at for a lighthouse, but it was at least something to be replicated in all manner of for sale kitsch.

I walked the road that curved back to the main thoroughfare heading to the hotel. It was slightly warmer, but there was a lingering chill in the air.  Still, the sun was shining and I felt at peace.  Just about a half kilometer form the hotel, I spotted a full parking lot and guessed that the large store that seemed quite busy was probably a Greek Yokes... (Yokes is very popular grocer back in the Inland Northwest).  Indeed as I entered I discovered a plethora of never before seen food products and wow... was there a nice display of cheese... and fresh bread...a lovely selection of wine, and of course chocolate.  SCORE.  The store was full of families and couples and grannies shopping hurriedly  I later discovered that in this town, the stores are closed early on Saturday, and that Sunday is a NON-shopping day.  Just like it used to be when I was a child.

My bill came to less than 20 euro for bread, a nice bottle of good wine, some cheese, and a couple gifts to take back to Istanbul for friends.  The Greek economy is indeed in trouble... and the prices at the grocery store reflect a much lower cost of living... at least for food.

Back at the hotel, I had some of the wine, which was very good, and snacked on bread and cheese before going for an evening swim and sauna.  I thought about staying at the hotel for dinner, but a friend of mine had urged me to get out and break some plates.  Besides, the hotel restaurant was full with a Turkish gathering for a wedding celebration. I took a taxi to town and found a recommended seafood restaurant.  It wasn't full.  There were some interesting tables, a Turkish couple with their spoiled child, a couple cooing at each other in the corner, and a large group of men who were obviously settling in for a long evening of eating and drinking.  I didn't have company, but I had a dinner show, so I sat back, ordered some wine, and chose an appetizer from the menu... lightly battered and pan friend eggplant.  The plan was to order some fish after the appetizer.  Hah!  The platter that arrived at my table was gigantic.
 Each little thin slice of eggplant was light and crisp, perfect for dipping in the tzatiki sauce that came with it.  I ate the whole plate.  That was it.  No fish for me, I was stuffed.  I left, the table of men still drinking and laughing and eating, and the friendly waiter called a taxi for me back to the hotel.

When I arrived, I thought I would have a quiet drink in the bar.  I had been told there would be some nice live piano.  Well the piano was an electric keyboard, and the place was still packed with Turkish families and their WILD children.  Seriously...... some of the kids were doing cartwheels and somersaults in the lounge. The music was bad, the noise was loud, and I ended up sitting on the balcony of my room, listening to the Aegean slap quietly against the rocks before tumbling into my bed.

Sunday morning found me back at the spa for one more go in the gym, pool and sauna.  It was a perfect way to end my restorative weekend.  I packed and checked out and walked back into town.  The bus was due to pick up at the waterfront.  I arrived about an hour and a half before departure time.  The sun was shining but the wind was bitter.  I huddled there in the corner of a deserted building, occasionally snapping pictures of things that interested me....the ferry docks...

                        a rusty old bike,

                                  the Greek flag fluttering in the wind against a cold metal gray sky,

                       and me.... wrapped in black and sheltered from the cold.

The bus eventually arrived, and I boarded along with the other people waiting anxiously to make their way back to Istanbul.  The ride was uneventful, as goings home often are.  We did pass the long long line of trucks waiting at the boarder.  To pass the time, I began to count... as I had seen the same scene in Bulgaria... trucks lined up en masse making their way from one country to another... passing through the grueling and time wasting checkpoints in order to deliver goods to people of many nations.  What a strange world we have fashioned for ourselves.

                                                                 I counted 432 trucks.

Arriving at a decent hour in the evening, I taxied home easily.  My weekend had been refreshing, relaxing and much needed.  I hadn't made a single final decision.  I still wasn't sure what my future held in terms of work.  I had a few more options, and a few more prayers, and I knew in the end, it would work out someway somehow.  I loved Turkey, so if I needed to stay one more year before moving on, at least I now knew that I could do that.  There didn't seem to be too many other options on the horizon so I may as well make do with what I had.  The weekend in Greece had accomplished what I had planned it for in the end.

The trip to the ecclesiastical museum had bolstered my assurance in ongoing grace and watch care.  GOD watches over me still.  I don't know why.... I don't know how.... but grace is... has always been... an ongoing Reality for me.  Wherever I am meant to be.... I will be.

Post Script:  I have finished this short bit of writing several months after the initial trip to Alexanderoupolis.  I can say now... that answer was on the way.  I didn't know it then... as is usually the case in any quandary, but I know now that there will be a decision... and it will lead me into new territory.  In the meantime... I am behind on a few adventures that I need to tell you about.  Much time will pass (in worldly terms) before I have my answer... but it will come.  Yours will too.

Blessings and Grace to you dear reader.

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