Sunday, November 16, 2008

Greek To Me

This morning I arrived in Thessaloniki, Greece, with a major headache and a boundless enthusiasm particular to the American Traveler, which might not be the best combination, but my seat on the airplane wasn't ideal, either. My plan: watch Mike Leigh's "Happy Go-Lucky" on the head rest monitor, snuggle up in airline-provided blanky, and zzzzzzzzzz. Lufthansa is a great airline, and I don't mind if I plug it, but like every transcontinental plane, mine was a tight squeeze. This is fine if you happen to be seated next to a diminutive, meek little lady from Asia. Add many, many pounds and you get snoring, instead. Lots of snoring. So much of it that I actually felt sorry for the guy, who after all wasn't the one losing sleep over it.

My first stop was Munich. Maybe the city isn't always as grey and drizzly as it was this morning (or was it yesterday morning?) but it had a definitive air about it, as if Munich never sees sunlight. The Duty Free was a little more cheerful. As I'd hoped, they had Chanel No. 19 EDP (softer, richer) and Pour Monsieur (not concentree but the plain old EDT, unavailable in the US). They also had the new Insolence EDP, and I'm sorry, but is there really a difference? It smells very much the same to me. True, it lacks that top note so many find screechy, but that note has always been a pleasure to me, like a bright yellow, deluxe 1978 Camaro peeling out in front of the Sunday Brunch crowd. It's good, trashy fun. Without it, Insolence feels a little too well-behaved. Picture Patty Smith in a pinafore. What would be the point, really?

Also seen at the Munich Duty Free: an extreme version of L'Instant Pour Homme. It smells great, and true to its name, more extreme than the plain old same old. I'm not sure why I need both. Also in the house: Dior Eau Sauvage Cuir (nice but fleeting), Tabac in EDT (in the states, I've only ever seen cologne; that said, the edt is no more persistent), some Rance fragrances (I'd never smelled, let alone heard of these, and some of them smell good), L'Instant Magic (after a sleepless flight, I nearly dozed smelling this), and a Guerlain I'd never heard of, which smelled nice and eventually will come to me, I imagine, once my jet lag subsides. Duty Free has a full blown affair with Jill Sander fragrances, and it wants everyone to know. Who knew Jill Sander had so many perfumes. They take up three rows.

I managed to smell the new Galliano fragrance, and I can tell you I'm not impressed, nor was anyone who stood behind and in front of me at customs. Imagine watery cedar and something only marginally violet. Picture this staying on your skin longer than you'd like.

My ride from the airport asked about the whole "Obama thing." Oh how the world loves America now. We are redeemed, in its eyes. Let's hope our hope isn't misplaced. Thessaloniki was bustling as we navigated its streets discussing politics. Many cute guys and girls. One cute guy on the plane spilled his Sprite all over his lap as soon as it was handed to him, and I had to restrain myself from helping him as much as I felt compelled to. People smoke everywhere here. I instantly thought of "Jasmine and Cigarettes" and wished I'd brought it. In Munich they had little plexiglass cubes you could stand in and smoke yourself silly. Not so Thessaloniki. Everywhere, cigarette smoke. In a way it pleases me, though it exacerbates my headache. It's nice to see a place which hasn't been entirely colonized by the legislation of space. That said, there are Starbucks here. Tomorrow I go looking for Etat Libre D'Orange at the local mall, and will see some movies at the festival, and will see some sights; culture, history, good-looking people looking good and knowing it with an easy, sociable confidence which strikes me, already, as distinctly Greek. Thanks to Perfume Shrine and Fragrance Bouquet for all the wonderful tips on this city. I hope to explore them all.

Decants I brought: Chanel Cuir de Russie, DK Signature, Mitsouko, Ditpyque L'Ombre, Cedre Sandaraque, Habanita, Aimez-Moi. I bought a dirt cheap bottle of Trussardi Homme at the duty free.


Blog Author said...

Welcome to Greece, Brian... I hope your stay there is every bit as great as you'd expected (smokers and all) ;)
I wonder if the Guerlain you mentioned was Cologne du 68? I hope to pick this one up duty free, when I go home to Greece this Xmas. Kali diaskedasi! ;)

Tania said...

I like Greece, and you're right about all the good-looking people. Is it a Mediterranean thing, I wonder? Whatever, the eye-candy is fantastic... ;-)
Though the smoking bothers me a lot, as it does in other countries with the same attitude. I'm prone to chest infections, and cig smoke makes me feel sick. It's one smell I definitely don't appreciate. So although I'm usually all for personal freedoms, I'd be happy for the 'legislation of space' to spread further!

Perfumeshrine said...

So glad you're obviously having fun!!

Yes, smoking is very much the Greek way of being undisciplined (it's said as an anecdote/joke that if you want to get something done by a Greek, prohibit it, LOL; the first government of the free Greek state after the National Revolution, Kapodistrias, managed to make the potato trade flourish thanks to this little trick ~scroll to Administration).

And smoking is also a nod to French intellectualism/leftism: if you see people smoking heavy Gitanes or Turkish tobacco, you know there's another reason.
I do hope smoking gets a little controlled though; it's not that pleasant after all.

Indiscipline coupled with the nonchalant attitude you have already noticed I see ;-)

@Dimitri: don't think 68 is available at the duty-free; might be With Love, Colours of Love, one of the L'instant (homme/femme) Summer or Limited editions or even the coveted Vol de Nuit evasion if they have broadened the distribution network to duty-free shops outside France.