I had several fine, inexpensive meals in Athens, most memorably at a family-run restaurant in the Plaka section, just below the Acropolis. While I was there the staff was somewhat frantically preparing for a private dinner party for 60 people but took me in and served a fine beef and onion stew with good bread and red wine, and a traditional Greek salad.
Monday morning was spent at the bank near my hotel, arranging for a cash infusion. I disliked the hotel, the Acropolis Select, but it would be hard to beat the location. No other hotel has been quite so mercenary about access to the Internet and, behind its splendid lobby, the rooms are grubby.
The bus to Patras, located in northern Peloponnese, takes about three hours from Athens. It was crowded and again no one talked. Patras itself is a pretty seaport town of 160,000 souls, and it was another gorgeous day. I detect the influence of Italy in the clothing of the residents and in the shops, which makes sense since Patras is connected by ferry to Venice, Ancona and Brindisi. I took a taxi from the bus terminal to my hotel, the Smart Hotel, which is sleek and modern with red and impractical modern Italian plastic furniture in the lobby and rooms that are clean and functional, if a bit to the Ikea dorm room side. The desk clerk is stunning and carefully explained in very good English how the ferries work.
I took a late afternoon walk to the Blue Star Lines office down the waterfront from the hotel and secured a cabin on a ferry leaving tomorrow for Ancona, which will put me within striking distance of Florence. There are quite a few North African men seeking day labor work and others selling bags and pirated DVDs. Every corner has at least one squeegee person cleaning the windows of cars that stop for traffic signals. Patras is also connected by ferry to Ethiopia. The Greek economy is terrible and it appears the Africans are having a difficult time along with the rest of the populace. There are also quite a few young hipsters out enjoying the splendid weather at the many outdoor cafes.
The crossing to Ancona is 21 hours and I am looking forward to being at sea again.