Leaving Alexandroupolis and Back to Athens

My proposed trip to the Evros Delta was a washout. I received a call from the organiser in the morning to say that storms had been forecast so the boat trip would not run. Of course, I was disappointed but I was able to retrieve some of the time at the History Museum of Alexandroupolis. It is a bright and modern museum with interesting permanent and temporary exhibitions.

Once inside I was handed an English language guide to explain the exhibits. One of the permanent exhibitions is entitled The Sarakatsans of Thrace. The Sarakatsani were sheep and goat herders known as the ‘Polites’ because they were known to have moved around Constantinople (known as Poli in modern Greek). During the Ottoman domination, they moved freely in and around Bulgaria, moving their herds to new pastures according to the season. They eventually settled in Thrace and made their living from the by-products of their animals.

The collection is the work of folklorist Eleni Filippidis which documents the life of this pastoral nomadic tribe. There are approximately 500 textile objects on display including woven and embroidered Panaoules (small aprons), rugs and saddle bags made from sheep wool.

Before I knew it my time in Alexandroupolis came to an end. The following day I caught a flight from the small airport on the outskirts of Alexandroupolis and headed back to Athens. No sooner had we taken off, than we were flying over Samothrace. This time instead of viewing Mount Saos from below, I now see the peak from above, still with the ever-present halo of mysterious cloud! Sometimes you just strike lucky with the side of the plane you are seated in.

At the airport I caught the Metro to Monastiraki and checked into my favourite Athens hotel, the Attalos. My stay is well timed as tomorrow is Oxi Day and I want to see the parade.

As if on autopilot I head down Ermou towards Syntagma Square to do my usual check-in on the Evzones. Along the way, I remembered that yesterday the new Maria Callas Museum had opened its doors to the public. The article that I’d read advised that pre-booking was crucial but I thought I’d swing by on the off-chance.

The three-storey neo-classical building is located on Mitropoleos Street (the street that runs parallel to Ermou from Monastiraki). I was in luck! There had been a number of no-shows and as if that wasn’t good enough, entry was free of charge for the first few days to celebrate the opening!

A set of stairs takes me up to the first floor where two darkened rooms are laid out like stage sets. Video installations play some of Maria’s Callas’s signature arias. Even if you aren’t an opera fan you can’t help but be transfixed by the powerful performances.

Up on the second floor are a series of exhibition spaces displaying many of the personal belongings of Maria donated by private collectors. 50 objects are from the personal archives of Konstantinos Pilarinos, President of the Maria Callas Scholarship Association. Several exhibits are interactive for example you can listen to an audio reel of Ms Callas teaching a class at the Julliard School in New York. 

The Maria Callas Museum is located at 44 Mitropoleos Street, 105 63 Athens

For opening times and ticket prices see the website here: https://mariacallasmuseum.gr/en/visit/

Hunger gets the better of me so I pop into Hermion (an old favourite) for a delicious meal. Unfortunately, the mosquitoes were out in full force but the restaurant had a supply of insect repellant on standby.

NOW, it’s time to say hello (and goodnight) to the Evzones, part of my Athens ritual. Every hour on the hour the changing of the guard takes place so you have plenty of opportunities to see them. Until tomorrow!

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