Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Meteora, Greece

I noticed an unusual arrangement with regards to luggage here in Greece, I wonder if it is a common practice so others may comment on this. They ask you to leave your luggage outside your room on the day you check out and they move it to the coach for you. It happened in this hotel (Divani) in Kalambaka and also when we were on the cruise where we left the luggage outside the room and they moved it to the baggage claim area. I felt a bit uneasy at first but then I realised it happens all the time in the baggage claim for air flights where the baggage is left unattended while they are been claimed.

After checking that our luggage is in our coach, we went off to the monasteries "in the air". There are actually a system of roads up the mountains at the back of Kalambaka but you do need to climb quite a number of steps to reach the top. We visited 2 monasteries and the view was great from up there. It is quite remarkable how these monasteries were built hundred of years ago.

We were back in Athens in the early evening and there was time for more shopping after getting our essentials at a supermarket, Champion, near the hotel. You can get 1.5 liter mineral water for 0.3 euros compared to 1 euro from the kiosks all around town. We went looking for the departmental store, Lambropoulos, that is near Omonia but we could not find it. The only big departmental in the location shown in the map is Notos Galleries so we went in. Inside we found photos of store showing Lambropoulos and only then that we realised that it has changed name to Notos Galleries.

After visiting other stores, including Zara, where prices are the cheapest among all the branded stores (according to my wife), we made our way back to the hotel. Here I had a close encounter with pickpockets. Two decently dressed ladies were in front of me and they manoeuvred to block my way. I instinctively put my arm across my shirt front pocket where my wallet was and walked my way through. The whole thing happened so fast and it was a close call. There were probably other accomplices nearby ready to run with my wallet once it is picked from my pocket. The moral of the story is - never expose your valuables in public.

Ronald Kwok

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