Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The eagle has landed - with a thud!

Like Aunt Clara in Bewtiched, I’ve finally landed with a thud in Athens – a bit befuddled, jet lagged, amid a welter of baggage and briefcases, trailing scarves, duty free swag and dropping euros like confetti. Snow squalls and delays in Montreal and Zurich be damned – I have arrived in Athens and the real miracle is that my baggage train did too! Thank you, airport gods!

Funny how the jet lag melts away when faced with sunshine, balmy breezes, trees heavy with fat ripe oranges, and great lashings of demstica – er, that’s Greek for vin that is pretty ordinaire but goes down well after the first bottle or so.

Obviously, I must be tipping too much in this damned town, for the hotel concierges and owner came to the desk to greet me with many hugs, triple-cheek euro-kisses (and not those pansy opera air kisses mind you), and faces wreathed in smiles of welcome. A bottle of Tsipouro awaited me in my room. After a brisk nap, I set out in the sunshine to hike through favourite streets of the Plaka – a jewelry store owner came out of his shop to greet me – “MADAME! You’ve come BACK!” Then later, I ran into my favourite waiter – Yiannis – hadn’t seen him in 2 years and we both beamed like lost cousins. I had an exquisite lunch punctuated by city gossip and discussions of politics (the world is apparently going to hell in a handcart here too) followed by his gift of fresh baklava. This is a city of about 6 to 8 million people – no one is quite sure of the count actually – and to run into people I know feels very odd, but quite, quite lovely. I either stand out like a sore thumb, am famous by my insane largesse or, as Sally Field said – “they like me, they really, really like me!” My friend Gary says I have a sumthin’, sumthin’ that people remember; my doctor says I have “presence” and own any room I enter – another life lesson – I didn’t know that. I think it is the supreme joy oozing out of every pore when I’m here that is memorable – honey, I’m home!

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