MAY 28/29, 2007
Yesterday it poured rain, all the streets aflood. We got fairly soaked making the rounds early in the day but later it acleared enough to enjoy a late dinner in the courtyard. It's wonderful being back with my little 'family', Christina and Daniella. I sued to babysit Dani from the time she was barely a year old and now she's this gorgeous tall, slender twel-year old who looks like she should be a model. She's still that quiet, soft-spoken girlie she used to be. From her infancy she was exposed to various languages (Swedish, Greek, Arabic and English) so she didn't begin to talk right away. I'll neer forget the first day she suddenly uttered a phrase in English! Now she also studies French as well as being fluent in Greek, English and Swedish.
Ingrid and I set off to explore the old haunts yesterday (Monday). We had lunch at the To Kati Allo Taveran and were warmly greeted by the owners, Anna, Leonidas and their son Dino. They are gypsy people from Sparta and friends of the guy I always run into on the bus around Commercial Drive. Thjey proudly showed me the latest family portrait which includes Dino's pretty American wife and new baby boy named "Leo" after his grandpa. I've known Dino since he was a little kid playing with his toys at the taverna and as a teen-ager when he was learning to play the bouzouki. It seems so strange that now he's a grown man with a child of his own!
There have been other changes here in my old haunts too. I was dismayed to see that all the apartment buildings and shops across from the TKA have been torn down to make way for a most ugly structure that is the new Acropolis museum. It doesn't look at all like the attractive sketches shown when they were first starting to excavate for this new museum. It frankly is an eye sore and does nothing to enhance the lovely old Neo Classical buildings that surround it, or compliment the grand Classical architecture of the Parthenon (the view of which it hides).
Then on down to Vironos Street, where I used to live (Byron's Street). My beautiful house and courtyard at #14 seem unchanged but there is no more "Dirty Corner". They have covered over all the archaeological ruins that were there which made it an intriguing corner (the dust from the digs gave it it's name.) And the milk shop where all us ex-pats used to congregate has been taken over by a fancy restaurant so there are no more tables along the iron fence overlooking the old Byzantine ruins. When Lillian and I saw it we were aghast. There are so many memories for us on that corner and now they've been obliterated! (All to spiffy up the city for the Olympics.) I have to say there are some good improvements. Veikou Street has turned into the Yellow Brick Road with yellow paving slabs replacing the broken pavements. No more tripping and falling when coming home late from a night of wining and dining at the T.K.A. For the most part, the city looks really quite beautiful and cleaner than ever. Less smog. Still a lot of noisy traffic, especially from the annoying pakakia's that zoom around without their mufflers and young kids in cars with boom-boxes cranked up full volume blasting out Greek music.
It didn't take me long to get right back into the life "zoe", the life I like so much -- laid back and exciting and full of so many old memories. Lillian and I are the two old homing pigeons who keep returning. She's been part of Athens since the 60's but she's 83 now and as her Greek husband died some years ago she says this might be her last sentimental journey here. I doubt it will be mine! If I could afford to, I'd live here six months of the year like I used to.
Lillian and Ingrid and I met yesterday. She's on her way to Germany and then back to Florida. We had lunch today at TKA and talked about old times, connecting the dots with missing people. I was amazed to find the famous Hollywoods are still in town, apparantly occuping 3 suites in an apt. near Plaka Square. Diana the belly dancer is still living across from my old place on Vironos. Dino says that James , the other mad poet (a.k.a. Devin Devine the magician) was here last year -- said he'd come back to die here. Ha! He told me the last time I saw him four years ago that he was going back to the States to die and put me in charge of his 'last will and testament' and final collection of poems. I have been the keeper of his poetry for years and don't know what to do with it. Some of it's pretty brilliant and it seems a shame it's sitting in my closet.
We're all anticipating the big Assembly of 2007 reunion on Saturday at the TKA, 10 pm. I just had emails from Patrick and Vesa verifying they'll be there. And Deborah should arrive Sunday. Anna Britt is scheduled in from Santorini on Saturday night too. And we are trying to round up the locals we know. So far have several of them invited to the birthday on Sunday.
Ingrid and I are off to Mykonos in the morning (Wed) and will be there for a couple of days.
Back to Athens Friday. More blogs coming up. Watch for them!
NEXT: Tinos and Mykonos: the Divine and the Decadent