Athens is a 25 minute flight from Santorini. I had to wait 45 minutes to get my luggage. Amazing!
Nikos drove me to the Santorini airport. What a guy!
I noticed on the drive into Athens from the airport that there were a lot of police cars. The cab driver told me it was because Italy’s Prime Minister Enrico Letta was in town to meet with the Greek hierarchy.
For some reason, I was not in the mood for plaka last night. My usual Athens night time haunt. I walked in the other direction. Ended up at the Grande Bretagne. I had tried to get a room there when planning the trip. One of the world’s great hotels. I was told there were no available rooms.
There were a lot of policemen outside the Grande Bretagne. Inside, I had to go through security. Like in an airport. I sensed Letta might be staying there. I would not ask, however. Greece makes me uncomfortable on occasion.
I enjoyed a superior evening at the Grande Bretagne! Even better than that!
I started at the bar. I was drinking Beefeaters. During my talk with the bartender, he asked if I had ever tried Beefeaters’ 24 Gin. It is Beefeaters top of the line. Forget never having drunk it, I had never heard of it. I wonder how many of you have.
In any event, I tried a glass. I did not like it. It had a perfumey bouquet like Bombay Saphire.
I decided to eat something. It was around 11 in the evening. I had not eaten since brfeakfast. I took a small intimate table just outside the bar area.
I ordered bruschetta. Three different types were served on vertical slices of a French type bread. One salmon, another mozzarella and tomato. The third was a vegetable of some sort. I susect zucchini crushed into an oily dressing. The whole thing to die for!
There was a piano player. Seated at a large baby grand. He played only American songs. He caught my ear with My Way. Later, his rendition of the theme from the Godfather blew me out.
There I was seated in absolute beauty enjoying excellent food and entertainment.
I thought how lucky I was.
The room. The Grande Bretagne is a distinguished old hotel. The bar area where I was seated is on the side of a huge high ceilinged dining area. Columns to the sky. Paintings. Antique furniture pieces. A physical heaven.
The Germans desecrated the Grande Bretagne with their presence during World War II. High ranking German officers occupied the hotel for living purposes. Offices were maintained in the building, also. I could envision German officers enjoying the room then as I was last night. A shame.
When I left, I had to pass through the crowd of police. I made it out just in time. I was 25 feet from the hotel when the sirens came blasting. Cars drove up. Four abreast. The street is extremely wide. Brakes screeched.
It was the man!
Italy’s Prime Minister Letta was staying at the Grande Bregtagne. He hopped out of his limo, gave a wave to everyone around, and entered the hotel. He had his jacket slung across his arm, no tie and his sleeves rolled up. Gave the impression he had been working. Some one told me that is his trade mark. No jacket or tie, sleeves rolled up.
I recently read that when ever Obama travels anywhere, like 200 staff and protection persons travel with him. The cars he will use are transported by plane, also. It made it easy for me to understand the retinue of cars stopping and people following the Prime Minister into the hotel.
There are two type police in downtown Athens these days. One official. The other unofficial, but tolerated. The usual police and members of the New Dawn Party. The New Dawn Party is the Nazi type political party gaining power on an increasing basis every day. The New Dawn members wore black and both walked and rode mopeds. Young good looking strong appearing individuals. I saw them out and about last night. In three different places. They travel in groups.
There was some sort of demonstration yesterday in front of the New Dawn headquarters in downtown Athens. Near Parliament. The party memebrs played the Nazi National Anthem. The very same one banned in Germany since World War II. During the demonstration, New Dawn handed out free food to whoever needed it. Not a hot dog. Bags of food. Families have a hard time getting enough food to eat in Greece these days.
Immigrants are the Jews of yesterday. The New Dawn Party blames them for Greece’s economic problems. Each person receiving food first had to establish he/she was not an immigrant.
I cannot wait to walk the streets of Athens today. Greece is an interesting and increasingly dangerous place.
Enjoy your day!