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February 12, 2009

Exqueeze me? Please, which way is Greece?

February 12. Day 227.

Two highlights from my first hours on Greek soil:

Before dinner, while Mr. A was at the conference, I walked around the Plaka, an ancient maze of alleys filled with cafes and boutiques under the Acropolis, occasionally murmuring "Pardonakis" when I wanted to get through a crowd. I have no clue why I thought this means "Excuse me." It sounded right.


And at the Athens airport, when I first arrived, I stopped to ask for directions. To Greece.

The airport train station was deserted, and so I asked a lone young woman if she spoke English (in English).

"No," she managed.

My turn to try.

"Parakalo? Metro?" I asked and pointed to the train platform. ("Please? Metro?")

"Ne!" Yes! she replied.

"Aha. Metro... pros hellas?" Roughly: "Aha. Metro to Greece?"

She pointed to the metro again, to show me where it was. But I needed to know the train's direction.

"Hellas?" I asked again. "Greece?"

And then I caught myself... "Atena?"

"Ne!!" she said, and laughed.

That's the problem... I know just enough Greek to get into trouble. A few words, a pronoun or two. Just enough, that is, to talk to someone who doesn't speak English and think I'm communicating.

Gained: Directions for this silly tourist.

What's the silliest thing you've said or done, as a tourist?
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