We usually prefer exploring new destinations rather than revisiting the same places over and over. But there is something to be said for going back to a marina where you have been before, like Zea Marina in Pireaus Greece. There are no worries about where you will dock, no wondering about how to prepare, everything is known, and recognizable. So when we informed the marina that Berkeley East had arrived, and the tender came to meet us, we knew exactly what to expect, exactly where to go. But instead of turning right, the marinaras went left, rather than taking us to the inside docks with the 50-foot boats, they directed us outside, to the mega yacht berths. We know that BE is so pretty that she rivals even the finest of super yachts, but really? We had to back in between two huge powerboats, at an angle, with lead lines positioned perfectly to foul the prop. The fenders on our new neighbors were higher than Berkeley East's freeboard; the dock was taller than her stern. It was, to say the least, nerve wracking.
One of our neighbors had a Malibu ski boat like we have at home, except he carried it on his deck and has a crane onboard to lift it off!
Another of our neighbors was Olympias a reconstruction of an ancient Athenian trireme - A warship with three banks of oars maned by over 150 men.
But while familiar is comforting, changing perspective is also good, and we quickly discovered that life with the big boats meant, among other things, sushi delivered to the dock!
We chose Pireaus to leave BE while we made a trip to the US Embassy in Athens for some notary services. One might think that a visit to a US Embassy in Greece is simple, however we soon found out that not only was an appointment required, notary appointments were booked out for weeks. But we also learned that with persistence, one can call, and call, and call, and beg, and after several days, they either get tired of your pestering, or take pity on your predicament, and give you a meeting time.
Having been in Greece for several years, we are quite familiar with the country and their strikes. Employees seem to think that going on strike is the only way to get results from the government for wage or benefit increases. Striking here has actually become something of a tradition. There is even a web site dedicated to listing the various strike schedules, which is where we looked to be certain that our planned trip to the embassy would not be impacted by a transportation strike. And with all the planning, imagine our surprise when we hailed a cab for a ride to the train station, only to be told, "trains finished." Luckily, taxi drivers do not strike on the same days as train workers so we were relieved to arrive at the embassy well before the appointment time, which was a good thing because it took quite a while to get through the security check.
Whenever we go very far from Berkeley East in a foreign country, one of us comes prepared for most occurrences. Cell phones with external chargers, cameras with extra batteries, selfie sticks, tripods, thumb drives, you name it, we carry it, just in case. Anyone visiting the US Embassy in Athens can rest assured that nothing gets past security. After several passes through the metal detector, they found things in the bag that we didn't even know were there. An hour later and ten pounds lighter, we were allowed into the building.
The appointment process at a US Embassy is very much like going to the DMV in the states. You pick a number and wait with the 20+ other people already in the cramped room (we wanted to take a photo but they took all our cameras at security). The notary process itself is the same as it is at a bank in the US with one exception, the cost. For some crazy reason, notary fees at the US Embassy in Greece are ten times more than is charged for the same service in the US.
After two hours and $250, we recovered all our paraphernalia from security, and headed out for a quick walk around the city.
On our walk from the embassy to city we came across "Dromeas" a 30 foot tall sculpture made of jagged glass plates running along the road.
Upon passing the US Embassy sign that faces one of the busiest streets in Athens, we snapped a picture, only to have a guard rush out and tell us to delete it. They must have to keep the location a secret. Since we didn't want to get thrown in jail with Russian prostitutes, we followed the guard's instructions. Then we went to one of our favorite places in Athens to enjoy the view and celebrate our freedom.