Our Friday night Athens adventure began by climbing into one of the open trolley cars of a diesel-powered “train” and winding our way slowly through The Plaka Neighborhood, absorbing the ambiance that only the darkness can truly manifest.
We disembarked for a quick “photo op” looking up at the lighted Acropolis and Athena’s Temple, and I tried holding still enough to get a decent picture of these breathtaking buildings, but you’ll have to decide for yourself if I succeeded. Perhaps if you click on them to make them full size.
Our ultimate destination was a “local taverna” which featured several decadent courses of Greek cuisine, plus singing and dancing and lots of audience participation, fueled in part by the red and white spirits that flowed freely at every table.
The tables themselves were crammed in too tightly, maximizing an occupancy that would never have passed fire marshal codes here in the United States. To that end, when Pat excused herself to use the bathroom, she was unable to squeeze back in to her seat next to me and ended up sitting a few tables away among a crew from a Turkish Tour Company!
Having read extensively about the politics of the region, dating back hundreds of years, I was mildly surprised that there was no leftover animosity between the Turks and the Greeks, given their rocky mutual histories. The male Greek dancers (as well as the guards in front of the Parliament Building) still wear white “skirts” that have approximately 400 pleats in them—one for every year the Greeks were under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, ending in 1832.
But on this night, everyone “played nice,” and dancers were pulled from tables in all areas of the audience. If you look closely, you’ll see Pat up there, aqua top and red shorts, dancing her little pea-picking heart out.
Of course, what night would be complete without at least one rendition of “Zorba the Greek,” and a few other, less-traditional, but highly recognizable numbers now associated with Greece, such as the theme from “Mama Mia.”
Yet it didn’t seem to matter what the mandolin player was playing, it all sounded gloriously Greek and brought audience members to their feet, enthusiastically clapping the music, time after time.