Athens, Greece: We love you

posted in: Shows, Tour | 0

I had been warned that Greece would not be the same as my last visit in 2009 when my Dad died.  I was told about the closed shops in Athens, abandoned streets and warehouses, and of course the unrest. I was definitely facing a different Greece when we arrived, but I was surprised, based on the media coverage, how *normal* Greece seemed.  People were out drinking coffee or booze, out and about in the public squares, shopping, and all of the usual things. Of course, I don’t know exactly what I expected – public sobbing? Also realize that those who are worse off *aren’t* the people I saw on the rooftop bar in Athens or the Rembetika cafe in Karditsa.

After spending a month in Greece, we decided at some point in the future to move to Athens for an experiment. We’ll make sure we have an extra bed for your visit.

In any case — I present your our adventures in Greece, which included recording our (not-yet-released) EP!



Taken in the Karditsa square in  kids' robot ride for our Athens show
Taken in the Karditsa square in kids’ robot ride for our Athens show


Our trip via ship/train/bus to Greece was primarily to see my family in Karditsa.  For the first few days, we were joined by our aforementioned good friend Doug (see last post).  I had never brought a friend to meet/stay with the family before, but Doug fit right in (I think he’s now part of the family, like a cousin).

He even went to see my aunt Katie and uncle Takis’ choir. Here, Takis conducts/instructs:


My uncle, Takis, conducting his choir
My uncle, Takis, conducting his choir

We took a trip to the island of Hydra with Doug. The island is car-free and only accessible by a very particular fast ferry, the Flying Dolphin.  Which stank like gasoline the entire way (the boat).



In the port of Piraeus, we found an awesome natural foods store that had the best vegan pepperoni EVER. And other delicious deli slices.
The courtyard at our AirBnB in Hydra (bathroom to the left)
Hydra port
The downside of the lack of cars and motorcycles: the forgotten/used donkey.
I love see-saw!
It was actually cold on the beach in June. But Rob still swam.
This here cat ate entire spaghetti noodles, which set Rob and Doug to laughing hysterically.
Down from our airbnb, Doug in the twisty windy paths of residential Hydra.
A view from walking around Hydra
Me, outside a restaurant above the port
We went to drink wine and watch the sunset.
Doug, drinking. Rob, helping.
My turn. The wine was fantastic.


After Hydra, we spent more time in Karditsa with family before the show, including at my late father’s property.  I love that the trees he planted are still producing fruit.


Rob repairing the Ktima roof
Out in the “back yard” of my Dad’s property (now belongs to my brother and I, watched over carefully by my aunt Patra)



Rob and I painted the sign ("for sale - 24 acres" - interested?)
Rob and I painted the sign (“for sale – 24 acres” – interested?)


Horses & colts behind my late uncle (and current cousin/aunt's) factory
Horses & colts (or foals?) behind my late uncle (and current cousin/aunt’s) factory


I miss my family so much when I’m across the Atlantic. Here are a few of them gathered for my aunt Patra’s birthday, plus her friend from Bulgaria (holding the flowers).

My uncles, aunts, cousins
My uncles, aunts, cousins


Then we were off to Athens to record our forthcoming EP (Never, the End) and play a show at this awesome community DIY space in the Pakistani section of Athens:


Romantso! and Rob!

We were fortunate to play with two awesome bands. Before the show, they walked us to a veg-friendly place and then proceeded to buy us dinner! The Greeks are so kind. Many of them were vegetarian.

Before the show, a hundred or so people crowded out into the street in front of the venue, dancing, as part of an organized class.  Romantso serves a lot of community needs, including dance, music, workshops, etc.

First up was Angelos Kiriou – he was a mixture of spoken word (some of which I caught/understood), political/social commentary, and art songs. We loved him.

First up was Angelos Kyriou

Then we played (here, the end of our new song Stranger):

I’m hugging. I don’t know what Rob is doing.


It may be a cliche, but a hellava true one.  When a country is going through hard times, they produce some amazing art.  Rita Mosss, a powerful crazy drum-driven duo is no exception.


The beautiful Rita Mosss


The drummer insisted on driving us to our AirBnb — very good people.

We also met one of their friends and collaborators, who lives in a cheap flat up the street and walks around with his cat on his shoulder.  Since cats, traditionally, are considered only a notch or so above rats in Greece, you might imagine the looks he gets from some passerby.  Athens, being a city of 5+ million, is overall pretty nonplussed by his walking around, though. He was super nice and had an interesting back story that I’ll keep on the DL.  That is, not post publicly. Real “L.”

The audience was kind of the audience want as a band but rarely achieve unless you are well known … singing along somehow and dancing, clapping, yelling.  Best people ever.  I can only describe it as ready to accept what you’re giving, and appreciative.


audience romantso bb
Audience during a song!


Poster for show in Greece
Poster for show in Greece

During this time, we also spent two days at the Art Tracks recording studio in Athens, with these awesome fellas:


Love these guys!


They were recommended to us by another Athens band, and we were happy to have found them.  When we told them about our show at Romantso, the gentleman on the left said, “How did you manage to fall right into the hipster scene of Athens? It’s a perfect show.” (Unlike days of late, he didn’t mean “hipster” as an insult!)

I really admired how quickly they both could zoom in on an area we needed to improve and/or fix it using typical Greek know-how and propensity to repair things quickly and easily!


laying down the bouzouki tracks



The 2004-installed new version of the Athens Metro is one of the best I’ve used.  Very clear maps, easy to get around town, and can even take it all the way to the port city Piraeus.


Rob, a good rider
“… for baking, decorating, and creating fantasies” — AND EATING OUT OF PACKAGE
Only in Greece? The menu at one of the Greek cafes near our Airbnb.
Our friend Pavlos, hosting his radio show. We got to sit in and listen to his classic tune-spinning.
I love that in Athens you find ancient ruins everywhere
And yet it’s very modern in Athens. Take this cool exhibit I hadn’t heard about here …
Beautifully delicious food to be found here
I’d never seen a police bus with quite so much window protection
In fact, there was to be a protest later that day, so police were on standby (to the left). Here, I pretend to take a photo of Rob, instead.
Meanwhile, this pup is going for a motorcycle ride with NO HELMET
Banner drop near the site of the protest
This is like music to my eyes and taste-buds. From a touristy area near the Acropolis.
Date night, with Acropolis in view.
“Take a seat/stand” – Athens Pride Parade – YAY! At the bottom of the poster, it says “Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual, Trans.” Found in one of the nearby urban neighborhoods.
Greek Banksy. I love the message.
My favorite, hope amid the rubble. See next photo.
The car is parked across the street from this. I find it beautiful in its decay – the building is amazing.


Also in Athens we were happy to visit my cousins and their families — we had never met my nieces and nephew and it was fun to meet/play.  I wish I was closer geographically so that we could see them more often.


On the way back, we made an exception and took a 1.5 hour planeride to London rather than 40+ hours of trains/buses back to catch our ship. Accordingly, to calm my nerves, I ate almost all of these vegan chocolate alcohol bottles. It wasn’t easy.





And, after a sleepless night in a gambling hall in Southampton, our ship had arrived.  We embarked and 7 days later were back in NYC.



Taking a few months off has been nice — but we miss playing shows so it won’t be long until we’re back at it. Plus, we have an EP to release – Never, the End.

Thank you to all my friends/family in Greece and across the entire tour for your warmth and hospitality!  It was amazing to sail to Europe (and back) and meet so many interesting people from other planets/countries.

Fist bump.