At the end of 1959 I met my future husband. We met at a bar. I was doing some proof reading work at night for the Athens News at the time and I had a lot of expat friends including some well known writers. We all used to meet at Apotses, a famous ouzerie. We used to drink brousco (red wine) and have meze. George (my husband) was coming there too with his group of friends, mostly writers for the newspapers. One time I was coming down the street to Apotses and he was coming up when he said: “Oh there is no one there, come and have a drink with me”. I had to go down anyway to check my mail (that is where it was being delivered for me), which I did. George was right, there was nobody there so I went up the street to the Bar 17, another famous spot of those times (Frank Sinatra and all sorts of famous people used to drink there). I had far too many ouzos and it all started there. I was 29 years old at the time, George 20 years older than me.
We were living in Kolonaki in Athens. Seven years later George, who was an architect, had a client who wanted to take over the Galini house on Poros, you know, the famous one where all the artists including Chagall used to hang out at. George’s client wanted to create a country club there and he was asked to be the architect of it. The situation was rather hopeless. At least 30 people owned it, usual Greek story with property. It was also in a terrible state, far beyond repair. So when he was waiting for the boat to go back to Athens, he casually asked around if there was anything else for sale and this property we are at now came up. We ended up buying it, together with George’s client Jane. That was year 1963. This is how our Galatas/Poros story started.
George started doing the drawings for the houses, both ours and Jane’s and in 1970 we ended up moving here from Athens. We were the first ones here in this area, also first expats living here all year round. I remember at that time there was no traffic on Poros, only a bus they would take on a ferry from Athens and a lorry for the military school. Otherwise there were only donkeys. As for the Galatas area, before 1922 there were only sheep, goats and olive trees so purely grazing land. After 1922 this land was given to the refugees from Smyrna and Turkey (so called population exchange) and they brought all the vegetable and citrus growing to the area. Before that there was no citrus at all so the famous Lemonodasos started pretty much with the refugees.
Our house was like a railway station! We had so many people coming from all over, also from overseas, mainly Australia. When you would ask George “have you been to Australia” his answer was: “I don’t need to, it comes to me!”. I still remember George’s first name day, everyone came around, bringing the locally famous galaktoboureko. I think we scored 5 of them that day. Unfortunately George did not have a sweet tooth. The locals used to say that he certainly preferred to drink rather than eat! So the villagers stopped bringing sweets and replaced them with bottles of whisky, brandy and ouzo. In the beginning I wasn’t sure if George was going to take a liking to the village life. However, when we got here, I struggled to get him back to Athens!
We used to entertain a lot and go out to the local ouzeries. I would go with him, very unusual for a woman at the time. They might have talked about it, I don’t know, but eventually they accepted it. I think I was a bit of a “pet” around here, someone quite different. I was accepted by the local community though, because of George. Especially when he was made president of the football club, even though he didn’t know a shape of a foot ball! I said: “George, you know nothing about football!” and he said: “I can read and write and it makes a difference when you are the chairman”. He managed to get them organised and even got them up in the league. At some point they had to face Poros in a match, which took place in Galatas. That day Poros team came with a coffin to “take the corpse back” after Galatas’ loss. And to everyone’s surprise, they went back empty handed! The Galatians decided to throw a fantastic party after their victory and they did it on Poros! Just to rub their noses a bit.