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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

ON THE EVE OF MY DEPARTURE

I'm leavin' on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be back again...

Well, actually I do. I'll be back June 26.
But here it is at last, the eve of my departure. This time tomorrow (May 16) we'll be in the air winging our way to Venice. I'm about as excited as a kid waiting for Santa Claus! Venice has always been a dream destination of mine and who would have thought I'd actually get there?


Everything has come together perfectly so far, and I'm sure that once we land and eventually make our way to Athens, things will be perfect there too. Today I had a surprise letter from an old Athens friends, one of the crowd of ex-pats I knew from the '80's. She's an elderly Jewish lady originally from NYC, now residing in Florida and like me, she makes regular trips back to the scene of our many adventures in Greece. Lillian wrote me on May 8 and said she was leaving then for Athens. She doesn't know I'm coming so I emailed her hotel and will try to leave a message for her in hopes she'll join the Assembly of 2007 when we meet the weekend of June 2/3 (my birthday party on the Pnyx). I'm sure she'll be as surprised to hear of my arrival as I was to hear that she is over there now! There are so many of the old crowd who have left Greece or passed on to the Elysian Fields. So this gathering of the Assembly is an important occasion.


Ingrid and I have our plans made for Venice. She'll be my tour guide there as she was there last year. But we're going to take in a few organized tours as well. Then on May 22 we board the ferry for Greece. We expect to take our time, see some sights along the coast before arriving in Athens around May 27 by bus. Then we're going for a little jaunt over to Mykonos so Ingrid can see a Cycladic Island. (I'm her tour guide in Greece.)


On June 2, at 10 pm, the friends will gather at the To Kati Allo taverna on Xatsichristou St. in Athens for our reunion. There should be Anne Britt from Norway, Vesa and his wife and son from Finland, Patrick from Germany, Ingrid, me, and the Athens friends (including Lillian, I hope!) The next day June 3, in time for my birthday, another Vancouver friend arrives, Deb.

The birthday party will be held at sunset on the flat rocks behind the Pnyx which I think is actually the Hill of the Nymphs. We've had lots of parties there in the past and it's an excellent place with a view out over the rooftops toward Pireaus and the sea to the west, and behind it, a glimpse of the Acropolis through the trees. How appropriate for me to be there once again with all my friends.


One of our quests while in Athens will be to scout out a new taverna hangout for our little group of scholars/writers/artists. The TKA is a long-time gathering place, of course, but AB and I decided we wanted to find somewhere special, just to mark the occasion of our return. That will be part of the fun as there are many interesting places around that area. Of course this will mean consuming the token carafes of krasi or retsina, maybe a little ouzaki or metaxa brandy, at each place just to make sure we pick up the right vibes and inspiration.

After that, the week will be full of adventures and various day-trips. Then we're heading for the islands, Naxos and Amorgos. And by June 15 back to Athens to take in a very special concert at the Herodian with my favorite singer Haris Alexiou. The last two weeks I plan to relax and enjoy visiting with my Athens friends Christina and Dinaz and strolling the old haunts which are so full of memories for me. Hopefully I'll glean a lot of inspiration for writing -- not only for my novel and the Sappho play, but remembrances for my travel memoir of Greece.

I'm lucky. This is going to be another fabulous trip! And I know I have the Muse with me.

So, keep an eye on this space and I'll share my adventures with you.




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