No.4 Athens (split with Barcelona)
“At Athens, wise men propose, and fools dispose.”
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.
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