Off to Greece 4 – Pireus by night

After two hours of aikido we make a short trip back to the hotel to shower and get dressed before going out for dinner. I’m actually quite suprised i’m still standing, as i have spent the last night sleeping on a couch at Gardermoen airport, and have not consumed any nutrients the entire day except for two apples for breakfast and a weissbieer for lunch. Two of the local aikidokas show up in a car to show the way, and we head out to a grill restaurant.

To be honest, i cannot recall the actual quality of the food. As far as I recall, I gulped down the contents on my own plate only to immediately accept an offer to eat half of the plate belonging to Andreas who was sitting next to me.

Marthe, a northerner that has been following Dimitris to Greece before, and in recollection of previous good, times start ordering rounds of beer for everyone. -Most people of northern Norway has stomachs made out of teflon and livers made from titanium. They are also quite adept at making their own spirits, if skill is measured by the quantities they are able to make and distribute illegally and not the quality.

The Greeks leave after dinner, and we get in our van and head back to the hotel. It turns out that the hotel is in an area of Pireus with some really thrashy bars, obviously hitting a nerve with Marthe, who manage to convince most of us, including Georgious and Dimitris, that we should head to the nearest strip club for some more drinks.

The first place we hit has a rather promising sign outside depicting a larger-than-life woman with no clothes on. An usher is standing outside, screaming and waving at us even though we are heading straight for his door. Inside, though, the place turns out to be just a small, badly lit bar with some tables along the walls and the worst stereo i’ve heard since I burnt out the speakers of my first second-hand car, a ’93 Corolla.

Me and the other Norwegians have a rather uneventful trip the few meters from the entrance to the bar. Dimitris and Georgious, obviously hampered by their Greek appearance, are immidiately attacked by some strange female creatures that i did not think existed outside of Homers Illiad. Their shrill voices are the only thing that can be heard above the din of the soundsystem, and they seem to be slightly oversized, middle-aged women wearing corsetry that may have fit twenty years ago. Skin seems to crawl out everywhere, and the nights all-time low is reached when one of them pics up and ice cube and starts rubbing it against nipples that seem to be emerging from the top of her bodice like the heads of drowning men.

We finish out beers and leave, eager for more experiences and stories to tell. Except for Georgious and Dimitris, who obviously have experienced slightly more than they wanted and head to their hotelrooms to lick their wounds. The next place we are ushered into has not got an illustration of a naked woman outside, but it does have an elevated podium with a dancing pole inside. Things are looking to improve.

This seems to be some sort of nightclub divided into two areas with a bar each. We are vigorously pushed into the innermost of the two chambers while we are told that this area is a lot more special than the other, whatever this means. One similarity this place shares with the previous bar, is that most of the people here seems to be women. As we are pushed through the outermost area, we are watched by a room full of creatures perching on tall chairs like falcons watching their potential prey from their respective vantage points and getting ready to pounce. I barely manage to order myself a beer before I’m jumped by a comparatively sweet looking girl somewhere in her twenties. My suspicions are immediately roused as she starts firing off questions about myself, portraying an eager interest in both my life and well-being. Still, we manage to have something similar to a pleasant conversation. Even though her bad English and music which is probably turned up to avoid any conversation ever becoming deeper than mere courtesies, makes our attempts to converse in a meaningful way into a rather daunting task. The girl is continuously dodging her eyes to the other end of the bar where a man seems to be supervising our tete-a-tete, before she places her hand on my thigh and almost apologetically asks whether I would like to buy her a drink. My suspicions being rekindled, I ask whether such a drink might be somewhat more expensive than what I’m having. My inquiries seem to have an immediate adverse effect on my new friends ability to understand English. Suddenly I seem to have ordered a drink, probably through some ancient Greek sign language where scratching ones nose in a certain manner conveys the sentence «I would very much like to buy this stranger an over-prized drink». As my new friend notices that this i making me rather uneasy, we agree on a budget as to how many drinks she is allowed to have before I leave. This calms me down somewhat, even though I still have not the faintest idea as to how much I am spending. It also helps my mood a little that she starts talking about her little dog, showing me pictures of it on her cellphone. Something which makes her seem slightly more human. Besides, I really like dogs. They’re nice.

My new friend seems to be measuring out the time between her drinks in such a way that she can talk to me as long as possible before her four shots of liquor have been consumed. She is constantly dodging her eyes to the other end of the bar as if to check how far she can stretch it before her manager – or whatever the guy at the other end is – will intervene. After the last drink she goes back to her perch, spending the rest of the night looking rather sulky. I experience a pang of guilt as I feel like I have contributed to a system where mere company and conversation is being traded like a commodity, and forcing my new friend into a lonely corner by simply not wanting to afford the cost of allowing her to talk to me. Besides, the presence of a man supervising the girls makes me think that most of the profits are not going into the girls’ pockets.

When I later pay my bill, the whole thing turns out to have cost me less than an ordinary night out would cost me back home, making me relax a little. Jan is not as lucky, as his waving arms on the dancefloor seems to be continuously conveying messages in the previously mentioned sign-language, making drinks appear in front of everyone time and again. He seems to be enjoying himself a lot, though, and it gets even better as a laughing and protesting Marthe is being pulled towards the dancing pole by one of the girls. She puts on an improvised show, and her audience, consisting of me, Jan, Andreas and several working girls are loving it.

I follow suit, jumping up on the podium and attacking the pole as a kind of equipment for strength-building excercises, mixing in some hip-wrigling that I’ve seen in movies, getting even more applause and cat-calls from the audience. After the evening thus reaching its climax, we finally head off to the hotel to sleep. It has been an eventful and fun day, and we are all happy and looking forward to the next day.

Next episode: Starving beneath the Acropolis – and Marthe throws a fit.

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