I thought it was time I introduced my Athens family. These are people I have known for many years and who I usually stay with when I am visiting here. Without their kind hospitality I probably wouldn't be able to afford such long holidays in Athens and we have become extended families, always keeping in touch.
Christina, Carola and KimMany of the friends I first met when I started coming to Greece have left, passed away or moved on. When I went to find Ari, a waiter I've known since 1979, I found he had retired and moved to Patras. My dear soul-brother friend Roberto, the Argentine artist who shared so much time with me, passed away from cancer 7 years ago. And another good friend, Graham, a retired British accountant, also died five years ago. But these friends are linked to my other friends as we have all shared time together and were part of a large group who either hung out at the former "Dirty Corner" on Vironos St. or at the To Kati Allo Taverna in Makriagianni.
My friend Christina is originally from Sweden but has lived in Athens for years, and used to work in the tourism industry. She was a friend of Robbie's who informed me, back in 1995, that she needed a babysitter for her 1 year old daughter Daniella. I accepted the job and we have been close friends ever since. Daniella is now a gorgeous 15 year old. Christina now runs a little dress shop in Koukaki and has just bought property in Salamina where she will use part of her house there as guest studios. Christina's friend Carola, originally from Germany, is also a long-time friend. She's married to a Greek. She also works in tourism.
Dina and Andreas
I met Dina back in 1993 when she was working in a tourist office. She is my Persian Princess (because when I met her I realized she was the living example of Princess Drypetis in my novel Shadow of the Lion. She is,in fact, Parsi, from Mumbai and is married to another very nice Greek man, Andreas, who also works in tourism. She has a son named Andreas who I have known since he was quite young.
The folks who run the To Kati Allo are gypsies from near Sparta in the Peloponnese. At first Anna's brother Babis used to run a sandwich shop on Hatzichristou St. where the gang gathered back in the '80's. She then opened her taverna next door. Her son Dino was a little boy then, running around the tables, and now he is married (to an American girl) had has two children of his own. Her husband Leonidas drives a taxi.
Mike and Me
That's the taverna where I always hang out when I'm here. It's right across from the new acropolis museum (south side) and the prices there are cheaper than the up-scale tavernas on Makgrianni St around the corner. Anna does the cooking, Dino is now taking over the shop. It's always a fun place to hang out although without the daily attendance of Roberto and Graham it gets a bit lonely. Ove, the Danish archaeologist, still goes there every day and sometimes Mike, the English artist also comes by (though he usually goes to a taverna in Thissio or Gazi). There used to be apartments across the street where Graham lived but those were torn down to build the museum. The Norwegian Institute is up the street so in the past there were usually classical scholars who stayed there such as my friend Anna Britt, who I also met at To Kati Allo. The Finnish Institute is around the corner and I had friends from there too, including Vesa, an architect, who sometimes visits at the same time Anna Britt and I are here. I also have a friend who is a very talented artist. Mike has lived in Athens for many years and I met him through Roberto. He is part of the To Kati Allo group of friends.
Two other friends are Zoe and Carol. Zoe came to Greece to live about the same time I did, in 1983, and married a Greek bouzoukia player. Carol lives in a house that was right across from where my friend Robbie lived. It also happens to be the house where Audrey Thomas stayed while she wrote her book "Latakia". I met Zoe at the American Church where she and her two children attended back around 1995 and we've always kept in touch. I met Carol a couple of years ago when a friend stayed at her Villa Olympia. But Carol knows all the people I do as she has lived in Athens for years, so we found much in common. I thoroughly enjoyed staying at her old neo classical house and would recommend it as a residence for any writer who is coming to Athens. (Or traveler who wants a homey place to stay other than an expensive hotel).
Over the years I've managed to keep in touch with these very special friends and they are all part of my Athens Family.