“coca cola” …. mad men … magical nights and carnations

No.4  Athens (split with Barcelona)

“At Athens, wise men propose, and fools dispose.”
Alcuin

This is one of my first posts … I did as a blogger – so I have started re-blogged some of my old posts that I enjoyed so much to do … this is one of them.

Let us go back to Athens – traffic, great food and warm magical nights. Today it has a urban population of 3,074,160 – and became the Greek capital in 1834.

After some hectic years with Stena Line on their route, Gothenburgh – Fredirkshavn, Denmark. I just had enough of and quite without any planning.
Wanted to go what is called “deep sea” – try longer routes and see the world.
Before that I wanted to spend my money somewhere – and when offered a nice apartment in city of Athens for 3 months. Off I went without any thoughts – only worries I had was what I should pack for 3 months. Not a light traveller.

 Athens – absolutely stunning city – but also mad. Specially the traffic. This was in 1976 – can imagine how it’s today. And it was hot-hot. September isn’t the best months to be in Greece and specially not in city like Athens. Don’t know how they do it. No wonder my “boyfriend” escaped to more temperature pleasant France.

3 months in that mad-hole. Unbelievable fun – and all alone. Greek man are mad. The first afternoon I decided to have a look around and went down to the Syntagma Sq. The traffic was terrible and it wasn’t like at home when pedestrians had green did the cars stop. No NO! Not if they had green light too.
I learned that in less then 5 minutes.
So standing there waiting for green light – somebody pinched my bum. Couldn’t believe it – turned around and there was about 20 smiling Greek men. That was my first meeting – with Athens on my own.

Καλώς ήλθατε στην Αθήνα, Viveka

Had a couple of days with Byron, before he took off to France – he took me to the old town, “Plaka” – he took me to Hilton’s restaurant and top roof bar,  Hotel Grande Bretagne’s stunning restaurant, Roof Garden – he introduced me to his “yacht” and crew (3) out in Piraeus, Marina Zea (mine to use when ever I wanted) – but he never took me to The Acropolis ..  was told that we have to up so early in the morning, because of the heat and that I was better off buying a post card – so I did  … never made it to The Acropolis. 3 months I was in the city. The night view was mine – every evening after dinner at Hilton when I sat out on the terrace to their top floor bar – The Galaxy Bar.

Bryon’s yacht “Coca Cola” (are you in the shipping business you have to have a yacht) – I only went out once with it – and let the captain take me out his favourite island around Athens. Only a day cruise – he took me to Hydra.

What a beautiful island –quite big. We did stops all around the island. The white houses with doors and window frames in the colours of the rainbow. Beautiful beaches; Spilia & Kamini. The Hydra Town – because of all the stairs they used mules to get stuff from the harbour up into the town, loads of hills and stairs. Can’t remember I saw a car. Sure it has changed today.

Not only could I borrow the yacht – also got a guest membership to a private beach club out in Glyfada – just by Athens international airport. So it was more or less a taxi out and back, every day. Impossible to be in the city – the heat and the exhaust fumes from all that traffic – it was terrible.
Very posh club with changing rooms and sun chairs in all styles, bar and restaurant … it those days it was all in drachma and around journey was about 500 = $20.

Laying there on the beach or by the pool – and the planes went in for landing … so low I felt like I could touch them. What I understand has the airport now moved – moved for the Olympic Games 2004.

 

The nights in Athens where magic – so warm and seductive. It was a lot of dating, dancing, flirting, eating, drinking – but no sex. Why ??? – I didn’t really trust them enough. Maybe too much information. ????!!!! Great months – great mad men.

Just behind the Parliament building – was there some kind of military base, maybe it was the guards – and every time I walked by soldiers came through the bushes. They could see I wasn’t Greek, so much taller … every Greek woman in my age had massive platform shoes – high fashion summer-76. Wasn’t able to wear them, because I’m so tall anyhow – but I had some thinner platform on my shoes … so they tried to make me stop and talk to them, they asked where I was from. Same commotion every time.

On the side of the Parliament – underneath it in the wall – was there small flower shops – one after the other. Have tried to find out over the net if they are still there, at least one is still there. The coronations must their favorite flower and they had sprayed them with gold, silver .. blue .. black. Amazing view.

The 19th September – Sweden had an election – and after 40 years in power the Socialist party lost. Had vote before I went on the post office and totally forgotten about it all. Sat on a café on the Syntagma when a couple of guys came up to me and told me how sorry they where over the Socialist parties lost. In those days Greece saw Sweden as the best country in the world. For them socialism was something so big. Next day when I went for groceries – they condolence me too over the lost. That is the way the Greek people are.
They care.

Olof Palme –
Prime Minister of Sweden
(in office Oct-69 to Oct-76 & Oct-82 to Febr-86)
Murdered 28 February 1986

The first experience I had of the Greek mentally against other people was when I needed to buy an adapter for my hairdryer. Found a small shop just around the corner – the old man in the shop … didn’t speak English, but he understood what I was after (had to use arms and legs to explain). When pay my note was too big. He didn’t have change. Told him that I will change and come back – No!!!! He told me to take the adapter and come back with the money later. I couldn’t believe it.
I was probably he only customer that day – that week.

To my shame I forgotten it all the time, but 3 days before I returned to home I went in to pay him – and his old face lightened up like a Christmas tree. Had also bought him an after shave as .. forgiveness. Sure he never thought he will get his money and it was a close call.

Greek people are very proud – they share – and they care about each other and others. Notice when I was visiting places around Athens that – even if they didn’t have much – they happily shared. Fantastic. Many didn’t speak English, but didn’t matter they talked with me anyhow and tried to understand what I said. Had to use paper & pen – arms & legs.

My last night in Athens I spent at Hilton of course – first a meal and then up in the Galaxy Bar. In the elevator up to the bar I was in company with 2 very nice men. Later when sitting out on the terrace they join me and we start talking.
They invited me to come with them to a very special place .. as it was my last night in Greece. 1976 I was fearless, so I went with them – jumped into a taxi – went somewhere on the west side on Athens to a beautiful nightclub – big white marquises – a bouzouki night club. Very upmarket. There was unlimited  champagne and fresh fruit. Instead of smashing plates, they bought gardenias to throw to stage for the artists.

Hadn’t even packed at that time and my flight was at noon. A fantastic night – David, doctor in NYC and I met up with him the following year when I was over. John, owned a marble factory in Thessaloniki – we kept contact for about a years time by letters, but never met again. 

4 a’ clock in the morning I broke up with them at the nightclub … they gave me a beautiful box with a gardenia in – stopped a taxi and paid it. That’s was my last night in Athens ever. That was a night of pure magic.

Have to change my “top 10” – of course Athens should be on there .. on split 4th place. Sorry, Barcelona.

Did you know that Frappe coffee comes from Greece (Café frappe), was born at
1957 International Trade Fair in Thessaloniki – by Neslte.

Wish I was there …   Μακάρι να υπήρχε!

Photos provided by and thanks to;  dipity.com / sehha.com / protothema.gr / protothema.gr / protothema.gr / xeniosworld.com / panoramio.com / thegreekartist.com / sunsail.com / remunda.com / annoula.blogg.se / flickriver.com / members.multimania.nl / daypress.gr /  stëve – flickr.com / balticmaid.com / flickriver.com / photobucket.com / sticksrocksanddirt.blogspot.com / travelpostcard.blogspot.com/hoteles.com

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37 thoughts on ““coca cola” …. mad men … magical nights and carnations

  1. What a great story. I spent a couple of weeks in Greece in the late ’80’s. My sister was working at the US Embassy there. We had 4 days in Athens and then went to Corfu, Mykonos and Rhodes. That had been my first trip out the United States (other than to Canada and Mexico) and I was hooked on traveling. Thanks so much.

    • Athens, is a fantastic city and I wonder why I never went back. Sometimes I’m afraid that I will be disappointed when I return – want to keep my cherish memories intact and with Athens I think it’s like that, but the last few years I been playing with the thought of going back. Byron has been dead for nearly 20 years. God bless his soul. What a man – he open a completly new world to me with art, music, ballet .. good food and great wines. A little of a fairy tale. He was so handsome too. *smile

  2. Oh, but you had fun, girl! That magical rooftop view- woah! I remember sitting at a beachside terrace in Glyfada on one of those milk chocolate nights. Not quite the same.
    I would have loved to see Hydra and the Aegean Islands. At that time it wasn’t easy to get flights to Athens from the north east of England so we made other choices. I know the Cyclades best, but would have liked to see every last island.

    • I had wished that I had taken cruises with Coca-Cola and seen more of the islands. Hydra was like magic to me .. never seen anything that pretty.
      The top roof bar at Hilton … and that view was mine nearly every evening. It was some fantastic months I had.

    • Yes, Athens is on my bucket list – already on my bucket list, but sometimes is best to keep memories as they are – but it’s so many years ago now. Nearly 30.
      Flights are a bit expensive – checked out apartments in Kolonaki – beautiful and cheap.

      • I’d love to! I’m suffering from too much work though and don’t know how to manage Anything this spring…I’m almost feeling a bit depressed about it. I’m alone much because the husband is away and my children is not at home (stayed for Christmas, though). I do want to get retired…

      • I understand that you … that your mostly on your own – and with your boys too … plus work, I have always admired teachers, because of the work us guys put in … after school. Amazing, so I understand that you don’t have much time left over … for what you really want to do.
        I haven’t regret that I was able to retire at 61, but that was thanks to Stena. Then the cancer dropped on me and what it has brought me, but I couldn’t had worked after that journey. Was so lucky.
        During the summer Athens is far too hot to enjoy … maybe a spring break. Depending on how many years you have left before retirement .. I think I will be too old for Athens by then. *smile

      • I will be around, A-C!!!! There is wheel chairs on every airport. *smile
        I truly hope we will get away .. on something short before that. *smile

      • WE MUST or I will dwindle away…Seems Florens is very expensive – I’ve been looking. But there are other things we can do.

      • Have checked out Florens too – the thing is that we have to fly to Pisa and then train if we want “cheap” flights – but hotels not to bad. There is loads of places explore together.

  3. Don’t you think all Greek Islands are picturesque? I spent three weeks in Greece and all the places I saw were magical. I went to Hydra too, it was part of a day tour of three islands closest to Athens. You were really gutsy then but you had fun. I told my Greek boss of 30 years that I want to spend a month in Greece in my retirement.

    • A month in Greece, sound heaven to me too. Greece is so wonderful, food, wine, sunshine, people .. sea … the nights.
      And all the wild cats.
      I hope you fulfill your dream. Hydra is the only island I been to .. what I shame I wasn’t smarter – when I had the chance. I didn’t want to bother the crew – but they were paid doing nothing. *smile

    • Yes, the music is truly something special, did use background music when I started blogging, but now I can add to my posts when I reblog. I love gardenias – so difficult to handle in a pot and indoors.

  4. Fun to read about your trip to Greece. You and I are polar opposites. You tall, me very, very short. We’ll look funny standing next to each other if we meet some day. Hee, hee.

    • Lori, I promise we meet one day … have my eyes on Florida now. They say we are getting shorter by the years … I still want to believe I’m 7’3″ – my best friend that was with me in NYC is a very short. So I’m use to being tall and big. *smile

  5. I thought I remembered this post, Vivi. I was trying to work out what year I was in Athens (if you remember I did a series on the islands last year) I don’t think I can have missed you by much 🙂 Magic nights, for sure.
    Another wee hug!

    • Yes, I gave you the short link for it .. but I really loved doing that post and with some great music to it … I reblogged it.
      I only was on Hydra, and I truly regret that I didn’t use “Cola” more. I had all the time in the world.
      Thanks for the hug … hugs are great because big or small they all will fit me. *smile – I love the word “wee” – learned from our Coltish staff – also used a lot in Belfast.

    • Tina, I’m more a dancing girl than a party girl .. or was. But I was fearless in those days – I don’t think I would have been so fearless if it was today. Maybe gone a bit wiser.*smile
      But I had a lot of fun too. I didn’t see much of Greece more than Athens and its surroundings – wish I had used “Coca-Cola” more. Thank you for your nice comment.

  6. WOW! How nice feeling to feel yourself in Greece now… I dance too…. Oh dear Viveka, this is amazing post… I am sure you watched Zorba, ah, memories running in my mind now… Thank you so much, you made my day, love, nia

    • Nia, thanks for your lovely comment … No, I haven’t seen “Zobra” – maybe I should.
      Athens is a magicl place … whole Greece I dare to say, even if I haven’t seen much of Greece. *smile

    • Barbara, it was the most amazing 3 months and Greece is stunning. Only wish that I had seen a lot more of the country when I had the chance. Regarding my “beauty”and my popularity was more based on that I wasn’t Greek, even if was not typical Swedish looking – with blonde hair and blue eyes. I had a fantastic time … but that is easy in Greece.

  7. Great song! I would move to Greece tomorrow honestly. (Despite the madness) It calls out to me ! Great Post Viveka! Lucky woman you are !

    • I know you would love Athens … with traffic madness and all the other madness. But I think I have passed my best before when it’s about all the men-madness.
      Really thinking about going back soon … come with me. *smile

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