By Catherine Tsounis
No one ever forgets a toy that made him or her supremely happy as a child, even if that toy is replaced by one like it that is much nicer. Stephen King
My first hour in Athens in the summer of 2019 was in search of a toy store. The Greek answer to “Toys R US”, that no longer exists in America, is Moustakas Toy Store. The three-story Department Store takes up an entire corner of Monastiraki Street. Our hotel was “The Parthenon” in the strategic Acropolis area. The metro is down the street. Instead of taking a taxi that would cost 20 euros one way during the rush, I took the Metro for under 3 euros round trip. Walking in 90-degree weather was not my style. My directions from Acropolis Station was the green line to Omonia, then the blue line to Monastiraki Station.
The Metro travelers were international tourists with iPhone. Jose Justinico from Medellin, Columbia helped me when I didn’t know how to get a Metro ticket. Traveling the Metro with exhibits of Greek statues from the Parthenon was a cultural experience. I was on a quest: find Fischer Price Greek-speaking toys for a reasonable price.
I went straight to the third floor of Moustakas Toy Store. I saw one entire row of Fischer Price toys. Amazing? I bought the talking tablet and laugh and learn radio. “Children love the musical nursery rhyme boo,” advised a salesgirl. “Buy it. You will be happy.” Simple Greek books for beginners were some of my purchases. Walking through the floors of stacked toy shelves was something I missed in New York City. I was advised to return to “The Parthenon” by blue line to Syntagma, switching to redline – Acropolis towards Ellinikón.
In August 2019, I presented the toys to my then 15-month-old granddaughter Penelope (Cleopatra). She loved all. Her mother, Despina, said, “these toys are valuable like gold.” The musical storybook mesmerized baby, Penelope.
Penelope loves the “Koukouvagia (Owl) Song” Now, at 18 months, Penelope keeps saying “koukou” meaning “let’s see the Koukouvagia song” on YouTube, iPhone or tablet. Koukou!” Koukou! Is all she wants to see and hear. This is all because of the musical storybook, a gift to parents who want to teach children Greek. She plays and wants to hear the Owl Song as background music. Penelope is gravitating to learning Greek through these Fischer Price toys.
The Moustakas website says “A world in which we serve with dedication, with love and with respect to the particular needs of the child. In stores Moustakas, the people gave particular emphasis on the design of spaces and content. The team wants to feel the customers the warmth and comfort that they feel for the games and that they will get the service they deserve…
And they are looking forward to helping you and gain your trust with the best quality products and services!”1