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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

THE REUNION & THE SUNSET PICNIC

JUNE 2 THE ASSEMBLY OF 2007

The To Kati Allo Taverna on Xatsichristou street has been a meeting place for me and my friends for the last twenty years. The proprietors, Anna and Leonides and their son Dino are gypsy people from Sparta. You never know who you'll meet at the TKA although many of the old 'regulars' are gone: moved away, returned to their places of origin, or passed on, in particular my soul-brother Roberto and pal Graham and Kay, a Greek American woman who was ry often tart of the TKA scene. Yesterday I ran into Kay's daughter Maria. She's moved ack from Rhodos and is living in Kay's old flat. Also met up with two other women who have been regulars there for years. And of course last night (Saturday) the TKA was the scene of the big reunion of the Assembly of 2007.

At 10 pm a group of us gathered to reminisce and recreate what used to e a daily gathering of locals and visiting scholars from the Norwegian, Swedish and Finnish Institutes located nearby. I first met Vesa ten years ago when he was here studying Classical architectures. He is an architect in Finland. He arrived with his twelve year old son Joonus, a delightful young fellow who has been good-naturedly tagging along with us crazy adults all week now. Unfortunately Vesa's wife was supposed to come, but took ill the day of departure from Helsinki and couldn't travel. Patrick arrived from Germany that day and Anna Britt sailed in from Santorini where she's been staying at a monastic retreat. My local friends Caroloa and Christina joined us.

A.B of course arrived fashioned late looking very glamourous. I had met her the same summer I met Vesa when she was here studying classical theatre and staying at the Norwegian Institute. We were all part of that amazing group of scholars, artists, writers, musicians and vagabonds that gathered at the TKA almost every night to discuss, drink wine and have a few laughs. Nowadays the scene here has changed. For one thing, the whole row of apartments across the street where Graham lived, and Waverly (John Steinbeck's stepdaughter) lived, to make way for the monstrosity they are building to house the new Acropolis artifacts. And there used to be a little souvlaki place there with rickety tables where we used to gather too, and tease the little bald-headed proprietor who we called Mr Souvlaki. Around the corner, also torn down was our favorite taverna, Socrtates Prison. So the whole ambience of the street has changed now, especially with those people who are also missing. This made the reunion an extra special event, just like old times. But we all missed Robbie and Graham and dranks some toasts in their memory.

The TKA has changed too, looking more upscale, and the owners are learning to speak English.
No matter what we have decided it is the best meeting place for us, for now and in future.
And we consider the owners as part of our 'family' so would never abandon them.

It was a lovely gathering of old friends and what a wonderful surprise right in the midst of the merriment to get a phone call from one of my L.Q. friends in Vancouver.

That made the evening even more special and I know lots of other people were thinking of me that night and will be present 'in spirit' for the sunset birthday picnic on the Pnyx.

JUNE 3 THE SUNSET PICNIC

Early this afternoon Ingrid and I made a reconnaisance trip to check the party location on the Hill below the pnxy. A lot of new excavating has been done and information posted on various sites around Philopappos, the Pnyx and the Hill of the Nymphs. The place where the party would be held is actually the old Deme of Milite, sort of the "British Properties" of ancient Athens where politicians and generals such as Themostocles and Miltiades had their homes. It was also used as an Assembly area.

So the Assembly of 2007 met at the TKA that evening and trooped over to the Hill toting enough food to feed the multitudes (as well as the stray dogs). The spot is spectacular for picnics and although the sunset wasn't at it's blazing best, it was still beautiful. From the rocks there's a panoramic view over Athens to Pireaus and a specacular view of the Parthenon lit byu golden lights, and the monument at the crest of Philoppapou Hill. It was truly a memorable birthday psent with my good friends. I certainly won't ever forget it, and took some movie snippets so I can share the event with friends at home.

The next day (Sunday) we met again, this time including Deborah who had arrived a bit too late for the party Saturday. We made a group excursio to the Theatre of Dionysus where AB gave her private theatre lecture, and then to the Acropolis. Afterwards we had lunch at an excellent taverna, the Attalos, with an amazing view of the Agora and Acropolis. Later we browsed through Monastiraki, then said goodbye to Patrick who had to fly back to Germany that evening.

It's been a wonderful but very busy and somewhat exhausting few days, but we're all having fun!

NEXT: A PILGRIMAGE TO DELPHI

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