Things you notice in Athens at 5:35 in the morning on a semi-random Tuesday in August. Or maybe Wednesday.

(at this hour, and in this jungle heat, who can say?)

I say: I smell bread.

I see a…seagull?

That car is going way too fast. Not even an Alfa Romeo.

Does a motorcycle really need to make so much noise?


Who still jogs?


A policeman slathering on suntan lotion rather languorously.

It’s too early to contemplate the use of the word languorous.

The Algerian Embassy is across the street from a hotel-by-the-hour. There must be a Greek word for a hotel where you pay by the hour. It probably sounds nicer in Greek. Only rarely do these hotels turn up on Not that I looked. Not that you would look.

(Greek hour hotels look positively intriguing next to the ones you used to find in lower Manhattan before the hedge fund managers took over.)

Evzones, those regally/gaily attired Presidential Guards, in their own so-alert zone, zone, zone. No tourists monkeying around with them at this hour.

A bullfrog on the sidewalk, God! What the hell is a frog doing on the sidewalk at this hour in front of the Presidential Mansion? At any hour? This is Athens, right? Jesus.

Roosters are crowing (is that what they do?) in the National Garden. This is normal?

Six green parrots flying over the garden treetops, a trace of sun lights up the underside of their wings. Little emerald feather bombs. Where do these birds come from? Also,  can I have one?

I don’t care how spiffy you look at the bus stop mr Athenian Lawyer, your overdose of aftershave is my next sneeze, and man I’m out of Kleenex…

That is the Temple of Hephaestus up there, but I am now on a metro car down here. A passenger makes the sign of the cross, but we are straddling the Agora, and that was before God. Must be church around here somewhere though.

I command more caffeine. No one is listening, so

…the clapping shut of the metro compartment doors gets louder in function of the iced frappes one has not had time to sip. Slam!

It is not yet even  6:30AM. Yet some dude has just approached me with a friendly What’s up dude?

Do I have ‘California native’ written across my forehead?  

Man, I say without saying, I don’t care if you’re Kim Kardashian or Jesus Christ, do not approach with me with anything before 7am, unless of course it’s a chocolate croissant or guest pass to the Lohan Beach House in Mykonos.

“Hey dude” I muster. Can I go pretend to go back to sleep now? Because I just realized I haven’t really slept for about the past five weeks. Athens and sleep mix like Greeks and Turks at a costume ball: uneasily.

So, I will be looking for a ferry going to an island that begins with the letter I.

I will stumble toward the boat, so hot, so exhausted and my eyes are already tearing because though it is still just slightly after dawn, the sun is already way up and the air is a toxic metropolitan poison, let’s admit it. Smoke, fumes, yuck. The gods must be smoking, and I’m the fucking ash tray.

Gate E9, is it?  Piraeus. Piraeus, my Piraeus, the mighty port in all its everything and then suddenly:

“Ticket please.”

(the ticket is given)

“This is not your boat.”

(this is not my day?)

me: “This ship is not going to the island of I.?”’

“To Mykonos, Mykonos! You boat, over there!”

(U-boat? now I’m really in trouble..)

It is now 6:55AM, and I am still not up, but I am inching out of Athens. And I am counting on Seajets to carry me the rest of the way.

So take care Piraeus! I’m going to take a few more heavy steps, as necessary, in this Hephaestean heat, this anti-caress, because I’m going to see She on the Island of I.

(even if it takes a submarine)

(even if it is, and goodbye to the secret, this island)


Special thanks to Seajets.