It was not too long ago when we met with Thanos for the last time, and yet it seems like years have passed since that farewell. On that occasion, we met in distant lands, on a different continent, one that did not have the fortune of inheriting the knowledge that the ancient Greeks gave to the West. From there, thousands of miles away, we dreamt of the stunning beauty of Greek temples. Today, the dream comes true.
Thanos leads us directly to the tables that the local has arranged right on the narrow street, and there we sat, watching the passers of the city racking noon. This cafe is named after the unique story of Melina Mercouri, a heroine who, even being a human, shares the place of the Olympus' goddesses in the collective memory of the country. Melina was an actress, singer and political activist who came into the Greek Parliament and became, in 1981, the first woman in Greece to hold the post of Minister of Culture, a feat witnessed by the numerous photographs of the interior of this small restaurant. Even today, the Greeks know how to honor their ethical and cultural values.
How could it be otherwise, we order three Greek coffees while we wonder what surprises has this country for us regarding our favorite drink. To make us doubt even more, Thanos specifies that we are having a metrios (μέτριος) coffee.
- Μέτριος, one spoon of coffee, one spoon of sugar.
Everything is clear now.
The Greek coffee is a variant of Turkish coffee, the same as in other countries is called Arabic, that type of coffee in which they use a copper instrumend called briki in Greek and ibrik in Turkish, with a long handle to serve the coffee directly in the cup. In those places where this technique is used, coffee is more than a drink, it is a real tradition.
Our coffee is about to finish, but the list of important places in Athens is endless. It could not be otherwise. From museums including the Archaeological, the Cycladic Art and the Benaki Museum with an extensive collection of Greek objects to various temples like the Olympian Zeus, whole areas as the Roman Agora, the oldest public square, or Kermaikos, neighborhood in Athens where the ceramic workshops were located and even landmarks such as Hadrian's Library. The Library, Agora and the Stoa of Attalus, a beautiful and great Hellenistic gate, are in fact a few steps from Caffe Melina, in the neighborhood of Monastiraki, ideal for stroll and enjoy the city.
On the way, Athens opens before us in modern avenues mixed with crowded streets of small establishments with colorful doors, walls full of graffiti and some markets. According to our friend, who continues to give us travel tips, when you come to Athens you should not miss the opportunity to visit towns and important places that are around. Thus, the list begins with Delphi (180 km from Athens), the center of the world for the ancient Greeks and where the famous Oracle of Delphi, formed by priestesses who were believed to have inherited powers of the god Apollo, was located. One, Pythia, was the most famous of all and the one who gave us the current term of Pythoness. Olympia, another must, hosted the first Olympic Games in 776 BC, dedicated to Zeus, and today it is possible to visit the stadium and even the gyms. Meteora is perhaps one of the most special places in all Greece. About 350 km from Athens, Meteora is a set of small sandstone mountains that were formed under the sea 30 million years ago and revealed later, when the water level descended. Its mystical character made it an ideal place for meditation. Mycenae, closer, is one of the most important historical sites of Ancient Greece. Currently, there are still some monuments preserved such as the royal tombs or the Lions Gate.
Thus, among the aromas of the delicious Greek food, the laughter and travel tips by Thanos and the smell of the sea, we thank life for allowing us to reach this new point, now known by us, of the planet, for confirming that traveling is such an amazing thing.