On a Square in Athens

We had just checked into our hotel in Athens. Apparently, it was in a dangerous / bohemian / anarchistic neighborhood. Walking around, more than anything, it had character.

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It was Friday night, and the atmosphere pre-party lively. The hilly streets were full of picturesque bars and cafes, bustling with students and after-work beer drinkers.

Our very first experience at one of these bars was mostly wet. The waitress, in one of the most athletic falls I have ever seen, managed to spill to bottles of beer, break two glasses and scatter a bowl of peanuts – over me. Frantically apologizing, I was dragged into the bathroom and before I could stop her, she had started spraying water over my wet jeans and t-shirt. Now I was soaked. It was warm, I didn’t really care, but for the rest of the evening, she never stopped apologizing and insisted we didn’t have to pay our bill. No protests there. This neighborhood so far seemed very promising.

Wandering about and following the young crowd, we ended up on a big square. People were talking, laughing, and seemed to have a general attitude of “anything can happen tonight”. While we settled down to observe the scene, an older gentleman arrived. With his white hair, his guitar case and clearly non-Greek looks, he stood out. Apparently, so did we, as he walked right up to us and asked if we spoke English.

Meet Terry. 50-60 something, singer, songwriter, women lover and hobo live leader. Originally from England, he had been living in Hamburg for the past years (and somehow aquired a very German accent in the process). He had just come to Athens from Hamburg, following a woman, of course. Now he was playing happy songs on a square in Athens. “I don’t have a strong voice, so if I sing a ballad, nobody can hear me.” To be quite frank, it was very hard to hear the happy songs, too. Maybe this was because after every line he interrupted his performance to take a sip out of his beer bottle: “This is what I like to do. Play a little, sing a little, drink a little.” More precisely, he was playing a little, singing a little, and drinking a little more.

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Slowly, through his songs, Terry became one with the crowd. His erratic voice merged with the laughter and chatter, his awkward presence blended in with everybody else’s.

Somehow, a little bit of magic happened that night on a square in Athens.

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