Monday, March 16, 2015



THURSDAY, JANUARY 8, 2015 - Seventy. In three days I'll be there. Without trepidation. Hell, I've always been in good company. Some of my biggest musical heroes share my 1945 birth year: Pete Townshend, Van the Man, Eric Clapton, Deborah Harry, John Fogerty, Bob Seger, Neil Young. While not a multi-millionaire, thanks to God and the French health care system, I'm in as good shape as any of them -- if not better.

The week I was born the curtain was beginning to fall on World War II. Germany was in retreat from the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium and in the Battle of the South China Sea, United States forces destroyed 41 Japanese ships. (I had very little to do with these victories.) In Washington Franklin Roosevelt was rehearsing the speech for his unprecedented Fourth Inaugural.

And on the radio that Thursday in January the #1 hit was "Don't Fence Me In" by Bing Crosby with The Andrews Sisters: "I want to . . . gaze at the moon till I lose my senses/ I can't look at hobbles and I can't stand fences/ Don't fence me in . . ."

Yeah, I could get with that as the first cut on my soundtrack.


This morning Marti and I flew out of Charles de Gaulle bound for Athens, Greece. The #MrPhil70thBirthdayTour was underway. Ahead lay celebratory parties, hangs with friends, archeological tours, a weeklong island hang -- all in my ancestral homeland. I was ready.


Our digs for the first several days. The historic, swanky Grande Bretagne Hotel in the heart of Athens.


The view from our room. The Syntagma (Greek Parliament).


Marti with Alyce and John, our partners in partying. Friends dating back to my Woodstock, NY life in the mid-1970s, we were reunited in the summer of 2011 via Facebook. A couple of years ago, we spent great times together here in Paris. When we proposed a Greece tour together, they jumped right on the bus. Alyce and John had flown in from San Diego via Limeytown earlier that morning. Now we were kicking it all off with ouzo toasts at the hotel's Roof Garden Bar.


After our bar rendezvous the four of us strolled down Ermou, the nearby shopping street. There John located the alley just past the Byzantine Church of Panaghia Kapnikarea, where a café named after the church features live Rebetika music.


Later we returned to the hotel bar for a drink with Giorgos Tompaziadis, our musician friend from the island of Spetses. We took this pic at the "Selfie Spot" on the balcony, with the Acropolis in the distance. Giorgos told us he'd be making his debut as a deejay later at a Kolonaki bar called Mousa. Definitely a possibility for digestifs after dinner.


After a mezzedakia (Greek tapas) dinner at the Colonaki Tops restaurant, we walked over to the bar where Giorgos was spinning.


At Mousa we downed Metaxa Greek brandy, and later, a round of mastika shooters on the house. Giorgos crushed it with his eclectic mixes of The Verve, James Brown, Bryan Ferry, Michael Jackson and more. On the way back to the hotel we ran into Perikles Palmos, Giorgos' longtime bandmate in Taxideftes. He was en route to Mousa. We told him we'd be coming to hear their group on Sunday evening. Tomorrow night George, another Greek pal, was taking us to hear an Athens-Chicago blues band. I'm a lifelong music junkie, so this was all good. We hit the ground rockin', that's for sure.



FRIDAY, JANUARY 9 - Headed out to Delphi today via private Mercedes taxi. This was our friends Alyce and John's first trip to Greece, so Marti and I put together a cultural itinerary which would take us back to sites we'd already visited during numerous Greek vacations over the past 19 years. That was fine with us. In fact, Marti is always up for a return trip to Mycenae in particular. It's her favorite (she's an Odyssey freak).

Delphi. Temple of Apollo. 4th century B.C.

January tourists.

Restored Athenian Treasury. It was constructed in commemoration of the Athenians' victory at the Battle of Marathon. (490 B.C.)

Cold but sunny on the mountaintop.

John demonstrated how the ancient Greeks were able to move the column elements.

My attempt to harness the power of the omphalos -- the stone marking the "navel" of the world. According to Greek mythology Zeus dispatched two eagles to cross the sky above the center of the universe: here. It has been suggested that the Oracle of Delphi breathed intoxicating vapors from the hollow center of the omphalos, which is actually in the Delphi Museum. Hey, I'm always up for an intoxicating vapor!

The museum at Delphi. The Column of the "Dancers". (c. 330 B.C.) Panels from the first century A.D. frieze, Theater of Delphi.

One for us music aficionados. Reconstructed working replica of an ancient hydraulis (water organ), the first keyboard instrument in history. Third century A.D. Remains of the upper part of the hydraulis were unearthed in 1992 at the Dionysus Villa in ancient Dion. Detailed descriptions of its mechanism had survived in texts, so in 1995 a restoration project began; it was finally displayed here four years later. The accompanying video depicts how the thing works and sounds.


Peter, our driver, took us to the fabulous Epikouros restaurant in the modern town of Delphi. Marti and I had been there before. I think all the taxi tour guys bring their clients to this taverna. The cuisine is exceptional home-style cooking . . .


. . . and the views of the Delphi gorge from the restaurant are spectacular.



That evening our dear friend George hooked us up with a blues night in Athens at the Egalite Bar & Darts Club, which looked for all the world like a Greek roadhouse.


Chicago's Michael Dotson Trio featured an excellent Greek rhythm section.


Athens blues boyz: Ektoras, Fotis, Nasos, Antonis. Go-Hard Partiers!



Chicago blues. Greek sausage. Diet Coke. Tequila shooters. The Birthday Boy's carte du jour.


You have the right to sing the blues if 1) you're older than dirt; 2) you're blind; 3) you shot a man in Memphis; or, 4) you can't be satisfied.


I think they were doing the souvlaki shuffle. But really, it's anybody's guess.


Post-gig photo op. Alyce, me, Michael Dotson, Marti, Antonis, Thomas. Photo by John. Apparently George was at the bar picking up our tab. What a guy!



SATURDAY, JANUARY 10 - A beautiful sunny morning. Poor Marti was coming down with the dreaded vacation cold, but that wasn't going to prevent her from going with us to the National Archaeological Museum. This is her favorite display case in the collection. Agammenon's gold funeral mask. (1550-1500 B.C.) It was unearthed at Mycenae in 1876 by Heinrich Schliemann. We'll be visiting that site (again) on Monday.


Apparently we were on a package tour after all.


Off to the races! This is the Jockey of Artemision. (150-146 B.C.) A rare original bronze statue of a rare subject: a racehorse. It survived being melted down when it was lost in an ancient shipwreck. Divers discovered pieces in the ocean in the period 1928-1937. Reassembled and restored, it's been on display here since 1972.


Another stunning sculpture recovered from the same shipwreck as the jockey and horse, in the sea off Cape Artemision. Scholars disagree on whether it depicts the god Poseidon. One thing was indisputable, though: Marti was losing the fight against her cold. We put her in a taxi back to the hotel for a much-needed nap.


Then Alyce, John and I headed to the Varvakios Agora, Athens' central food market.


Our immediate destination in the market was the "secret" underground restaurant that everyone knows about. (It's located in the basement of a derelict building across the street from the veggie and olive vendors.) No sign. No name. No menu. A waiter tells you what they have available that day.


Among our picks: boiled wild greens, fava (yellow split pea purée), beef-orzo stew, grilled sardines. Add thick crusty bread, Greek salad and a carafe of barrel white wine and you're well fed -- with minimal strain on the wallet.


You could ask this guy for directions to the restaurant.


Marti was saving her energy for my big birthday dinner that evening, so she opted out of our planned afternoon trip to Cape Sounion, forty miles south-southeast of Athens. Our driver picked us up at the market and drove us to the Temple Of Poseidon.


Sounion sunset.


My Athens birthday dinner was at Kanella, a restaurant known for its inventive takes on Greek cuisine that George had turned us on to a few years back. On that visit we also met Mania, George's mother, a charming and beautiful Greek woman. We immediately became friends. For my birthday, she brought me a pair of Old School coffee mugs and a beautiful calendar from the Acropolis Museum. An archeologist by profession, Mania had given us a private tour of that fabulous new museum on our last trip to Athens.


George and his lovely bride Alexandra gave me a huge selection of Greek gourmet delicacies. Now I knew we'd be cooking big time during the weeklong stay at our rental house on the island of Spetses.


Look at those happy faces. We enjoyed a delectable feast at Kanella, which means "cinnamon" in Greek. I know we went deep that night, because we completely disregarded the Facebook foodies who were clamoring for pics. (Let them eat moussaka!)


Everybody watch the old guy blow. Marti had in fact rallied for the birthday dinner. She made all the arrangements, even sent the restaurant staff on a quest for a candle to top our dessert. Thankfully, they only found one.


Sometime toward the end of dinner I turned seventy. Nothin' to it. If you have to mark a milestone, this was the way to rock it. Surrounded by warm, loving friends, bellied up to a table of great food and drink, with laughter and celebration, in one of the most amazing cities in the world.


This is how I spent the first hours of my seventies. Watching a live stream of my Patriots beating the Ravens in the playoffs. (While Marti slept.) (No need for headphones when this girl toddles off to Slumberland.)


My final birthday gift of the evening.



SUNDAY, JANUARY 11 - When I mentioned to Mania, my tablemate at last night's dinner, that I wanted to go to church on my birthday, she recommended Agia Dynamis (The Holy Power Of The Virgin).

The tiny 16th-century chapel was only a few blocks from our hotel. One priest, one psalti (chanter). In addition to singing, he doubled as server-attendant to the priest.

I was able to receive communion on my 70th birthday, but not before I was busted by a little Greek lady for stealthing this pic. I didn't care. And I doubt that God did either. In any event, I got the shot.


Marti was still feeling under the weather, so she passed on church, preferring to sleep late and relax in the room. At breakfast we had sent Alyce and John on a tour of Plaka and the Acropolis, to see the Parthenon and the Acropolis Museum. They were probably ready for a bit of q-time together.

Veggie lunch from room service. Delicious. And just what Ms. Marti wanted.

Later we met this guy. Philip is the son of our Greek friends Katerina and Kostas. Kid never misses a hotel piano lounge happy hour.

Philip v.2014 checks out Philip v.1945. While Katerina looks on. Alyce and John, hyper-grandparents to their own little cutie in Las Vegas, joined us for drinks in the piano lounge, fresh from their sightseeing day. Even Marti had rallied by now.

Later Alyce, John, Marti and I went to dinner at O Tzitzikas & O Mermigkas (The Cricket and The Ant), a charming little restaurant near the Agia Dynamis chapel.

And the beat goes on. After dinner we cabbed up to Clock, a bar in the suburb of Chalandri, where Giorgos and his band were playing their regular wintertime Sunday night gig.

Our friends in the band Taxideftes: Perikles, Irini, Giorgos, Nikos and Yannis. Always fun to hear them play!

Champagne kids. Closing out the first leg of the #MrPhil70thBirthdayTour. Tomorrow morning we'd be on the road again.


MONDAY, JANUARY 12 - How we roll. Chauffeur-driven rock star vans from here on out. Today we're on the road to Nafplio, our next destination, taking in a few archeological sites on the way.

En route to Ancient Corinth we stopped at the Corinth Canal, a narrow cut just 70 feet wide, connecting the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea. It separates the Greek mainland from the Peloponnese. Insufficiently wide to accommodate most modern ships, the canal now has little trade significance. Begun in 1882, the project was plagued by budget shortfalls and bankruptcies. It was finally completed in 1893.


The Temple of Apollo. Ancient Corinth.

Ancient Corinth. I called this the Garden Of Headless Women, because when these Corinth gals gave head, these Corinth gals actually gave head. No one liked my joke, but that didn't stop me.

Marti's favorite. The Lion's Gate at Mycenae. She's climbed up to the site of Agamemnon's palace countless times.

I opted to chill on a park bench while my tour mates ascended the hill. Nice view.

At the ancient amphitheater at Epidaurus. With unsurpassed acoustics, it was designed by Polykleitos the Younger in the 4th century B.C. and is still in use today. Only not today: the four of us and our driver were the only tourists on the site.


Alyce the Healer (she was a nurse) with a depiction of Asclepius the Healer. He was Apollo's son, and in ancient times Epidaurus was the most celebrated healing center in the world.

Nafplio. Our digs for the next three days: the lovely Hotel Ippoliti.

After settling in we went to late lunch at a favorite restaurant of ours, Arapakos. At the end of our fabulous fish stew lunch a woman from a large party across the room burst into song. Fun finale. We were ready now for a few days of chillaxing.


TUESDAY, JANUARY 13 - A sunny but chilly, windy day. Perfect for hanging inside a waterside café.

Nafplio street art.

That evening Marti crashed early, Alyce and John enjoyed dinner for two and I finally decided to return to Arapakos for late supper. A whole lavraki (sea bass) selected from the kitchen and cooked to perfection.

My walk back to the hotel. With the 18th-century Palamidi fortress (top right) built by the Venetians looming over the city.


WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 14 - Morning coffee break at the San Rocco Wine Bar on the Nafplio waterfront. Alyce and I show off our new jewelry, acquired from a very charming account representative for fine European timepieces and handcrafted curative magnetic accessories from Senegal. He had approached us at the table. Alyce: versatile EMF-emitting wrist wrap/ necklace. Me: Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner (20€, helluva deal).

San Rocco Wine Bar.

Today Marti heard the siren call of the January Sales. Retail therapy. She had sufficiently recovered from her cold to join Alyce, John and me as we cruised the streets of this beautiful town. I rang up the first big shopping score: at Cabouros I found the Hugo Boss black tuxedo shirt I'd been lusting after ever since I spied it in the window of the Boss boutique on Boulevard Saint-Germain a couple of years ago. By the time I made the decision to buy it, the shirt was out of stock. Now here it was. In my size. On sale! My bride gave it to me as one of my milestone birthday gifts.

At Menzies, one of Marti's favorite shops, John jumped on the bandwagon. He discovered a very cool knit shirt on sale upstairs in the men's department, while Marti was purchasing a couple of skirts downstairs. Years ago, when her luggage hadn't arrived at the airport, American Express treated Marti to a fun shopping spree in this boutique. She was definitely back in action now.

Lunch beneath a mural depicting the Eiffel Tower. Dig the high-concept graphics.

More shopping followed, then our excursion concluded with a visit to the stunningly beautiful Church of the Panaghia.


Originally constructed in the 1400s, the church was rebuilt around 1700. Panaghia refers to Mary, mother of Jesus. This was a welcome opportunity to light candles for the departed in an extraordinary setting.

Our last night in Nafplio. Back to Arapakos for dinner.

And what a spectacular dinner: Astakomakaronada (lobster pasta).


Yeah, we're on the Mediterranean Diet now.

These folks have a home by the sea in Baja and love fresh seafood. Dive in!


THURSDAY, JANUARY 15 - The ‪#‎MrPhil70thBirthdayTour‬ rolled on! At noon a big Mercedes van arrived to take us from Nafplio to Kosta, where we caught the ferry to Spetses. I joked, "I want the place where Keith sat the last time the Stones played Athens. Just in case he left something under the seat." We enjoyed spectacular views all along the 90 minute journey. I asked Kimon, our driver, to stop at the little Mycenaen stone bridge just outside Nafplio. Mycenean Marti loves this spot. Dates back to 1300-1200 B.C.


When it looked as if we might be running late for the 13h30 crossing to Spetses, Kimon called a friend at the ferry landing to ask the crew to hold the boat. "At this time of year if there are no passengers on this side," he explained to us, "the ferry crosses right back over to Spetses." Talk about VIP service! We made it to our ten-minute ocean voyage without a hassle. Now we were ready for a relaxing week on this beautiful island.

At the Dapia, Spetses' main port, we engaged a pair of taxis to bring us and our baggage to the house we rent overlooking Agios Mammas beach.

Our beautifully-decorated digs. Five bedrooms, one-and-a-half baths, kitchen, dining room, huge living room and two balconies.

During the course of our stay we'd cook breakfasts and a few meals at the house, taking advantage of the small fish market and handy grocery stores, just like the permanent residents.

View of the mainland.


Nike and Coulis, our neighbors and co-owners of the house, gave me a birthday cake as a welcome gift. Classic Greek hospitality.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 16 - First full day on the island. Café hangs, shopping, long lunch. I went shopping before the rest of our krew hit the streets. Marti was amused that the motif on the bag from the store featured a little black dress and a certain Tower.

While there was no WiFi at the house, Alyce and John were happy to learn that all the bars and tavernas would keep them connected to the daily photo and video updates of their granddaughter Madelynn Grace.

On our way to lunch we stopped by the statue of Laskarina Bouboulinas, 19th century heroine of the Greek War of Independence, but when Marti tried to imitate the woman admiral's pose, her right-left sense of direction problem kicked in.


Views on the way to lunch. Earlier I had dropped by the Point of View bar to see our friend Vagelis. In Athens Giorgos had suggested a restaurant for my Spetses birthday party. Vagelis phoned the place, made us a lunch reservation and helped set up that dinner.

It's just over the hill. (Like me.)

Nero tis Agapis (Water of Love). Good call, Giorgos. This would do nicely for a Saturday night birthday dinner.


The view from our table. Turned out that we already knew Peter, one of the managers, from Nero tis Agapis' sister restaurant Tarsanas. It's long been our favorite but was now closed for the winter. After a delicious long lunch Marti and I sat with Argiro (manager), Peter and chef Anastasios to work up a menu for the birthday dinner: goat's cheese salad, squid in mustard sauce, ouzo shrimp, seafood pasta and risotto, chef's surprise dessert.

On our way back to the house we dropped into the fabulous bakery overlooking the port to order birthday cakes for the dinner. It was the second time that day for Alyce, Marti and me. We had visited that morning for other sugary treats.

We had even bought a kok (pronounced "cock") for John.


SATURDAY, JANUARY 17 - Today John cooked lunch for us at the house. A delicious omelet with lots of fresh veggies.

California gal Alyce selected and prepared perfect avocados.

And Ms. Marti braised dandelion greens. What a healthy lunch!

Later we went shopping. First stop was our friend Margarita's lingerie shop. Margarita is our musician pal Giorgos' mom. (I was too busy cruising the lacy things to take pics. This is a pic of Margarita and Marti from a previous visit to Spetses.)

Margarita is such a dear. And Margarita and Marti together are a party. A mutual admiration society on acid. You'd have thought it was Marti's birthday. While she was trying on playwear, I quickly found a Valentine's gift for my bride. With Margarita's help I chose a chic Braccialini clutch. Marti loved it. She loves everything she acquires from her gal pal's boutique. In this photo she's posing with her shopping in front of the remnants of the little Christmas market at the Dapia.

Another Saturday Night, Another ‪#‎MrPhil70thBirthdayTour‬ party! We arrived early at the restaurant to greet our guests.

Alyce and John. Ready to dig in.

At Nero tis Agapis. Around the table from lower left: Alyce, me, Marti, Father Grigorios, Christoforos, Chrissoula, Katerina, Sofia, Miranda. Not pictured: Dennis and John.

With our landlord Christoforos and his charming wife Chrissoula.

Father Grigorios, whom we met on Spetses a few years ago, is a young Greek Orthodox priest who has been studying Russian in Saint Petersburg. In fact, he was due to fly back to that city the next day. I was so honored that he found time to spend the evening with us. He told priest jokes (in English!) and gave me a beautiful icon, which later my Russian language student-computer tech Morgan identified as being from a particularly exquisite school of Russian Orthodox religious painting.

Katerina and Dennis had given the kids supper before coming to our party, but Sofia and Miranda rallied for dessert. Dennis is a chef we'd met and befriended on an earlier trip to the island.

Sofia shows off her glittery penguin party wear.

Meanwhile, Miranda and I got into an arts and crafts project. We were building paper napkin boats . . .

. . . or was it in fact a hat?

My new pal Miranda. Next year in school she'll be studying English, so watch out for us next time Marti and I return to Spetses. We'll be dishing the dirt.

70? Yeah, and loving it. Not remembering that chef Anastasios was preparing a surprise dessert (it was frozen grapes, shards of chocolate and tsipouro liqueur), we had ordered two cakes from the bakery. We ended up sending one of them home with Katerina and Dennis and the kids.

It was the least I could do for my boat-building instructor.

Thanks to Argiro and Peter for taking such good care of us.

And thanks to my beautiful wife for planning it all!


SUNDAY, JANUARY 18 - This morning Marti and I went to church at the lovely Agios Nikolaos, a former monastery. Father Grigorios was assisting in the service. Afterward at coffee hour, he introduced us to the bishop, who smiled and started calling us "The Americans."

On the way back to our digs, we were invited to join Coulis (third from right), Christoforos and their homies for apéritifs and snacks before lunch. This was esteemed company. Every day Coulis hosts a noon gathering of his krew. They munch on bread, cheese, olives and marinated octopus, drink, play scratchy old Greek records while singing along, and solve the world's problems -- all in the space of precisely one hour. It's a long-running hang appreciated perhaps most by their wives, who are happy to get the guys out from underfoot as they prepare lunch.

Our lunch had to wait. Alyce, John, Marti and I were going on a day trip to Hydra, the next island over, via Flying Dolphin hydrofoil.

Hydra is the island associated with Leonard Cohen, who had a home there for many years. In season it is overrun with tourists, in numbers that the lesser-known Spetses is not. But at this time of year, we soon realized, there's more action on Spetses, which has a larger year-round population. Consequently, we had a quiet sojourn on Hydra: lunch, a bit of wandering, checking out the few shops open on a Sunday afternoon, a bar hang. Then we waited for the arrival of "To Fly" from Piraeus to take us back to Spetses.

Sure is a lovely harbor at sunset, though.


MONDAY, JANUARY 19 - Let's go, Pats! Because of the very late start time (2 a.m. in Greece, all my bars with WiFi access were closed), I self-imposed a media blackout for a few hours and streamed the instantly-archived game with breakfast at the Balkoni bar.

Tom Brady. Clearly not deflated.

While I was tending to the Patriots my traveling companions went on a walking tour of the island.

Coulis had explained that this period of mild January weather is known as the halcyon days. Locals take advantage by doing repairs and other construction projects while the sun shines.

The island sits at a crossroads of traditional marine routes through the Greek waters. In ancient times it was known as Pityousa (Pine-clad). The forest and sizable natural harbor fostered an important shipbuilding industry.

Vestiges of those enterprises can still be seen at the Old Harbor.

At the lighthouse, one of the oldest in modern-day Greece. It was built in 1831 via a public tax levy and with funds donated by a wealthy family on the island. Olive oil most likely provided illumination to the original tower's lamps; perhaps whale oil was used as well. The lighthouse was reconstructed in 1885 and employed a kerosene beacon. Today it's completely automated.

Marti and I just love coming here. At any time of year.


TUESDAY, JANUARY 20 - By now we were in deep chill mode. I had developed a pattern of rising early, heading out for a stroll to the main port.

Too early even for the water taxis.

I had a couple of favorite coffee shops where I could hang and get on the Internet. This is a display case in To Kafenion, one of my morning cafés.

Just around the corner: the Roussos Café. Can't beat that latte and spanakopita breakfast in the morning sun!


WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 21 - It was hard to believe that today would be our last day on the island, at least this time around. The #MrPhil70thBirthdayTour (Greece segment) was winding down.

Tomorrow we'd be returning to Athens for one last night, one final dinner party. I went to see my friend John the Barber (a tonsorial specialist for more than 50 years). Time for a shave and a haircut. I love all the antique equipment still in use in his shop.

Later the four of us went to the taxi stand for a ride to lunch at Nero tis Agapis. I think Marti would have preferred the pink Vespa.

This sign inspired me to engage the driver for an after-lunch tour around the island. I asked him to return to the restaurant in a couple of hours to pick us up.

View from the Men's Room window at the restaurant.

Our driver returned to take us on a spectacular circuit around the entire island. For those of us who had read John Fowles' 1965 novel The Magus it was an opportunity to see Agia Paraskevi, the charming little church featured in an a key scene in both the book and subsequent film starring Michael Caine, Anthony Quinn and Candice Bergen. Agia Paraskevi beach, the church's setting, also plays an important role in the story, as does the Botassi villa (in the trees, between Agia Paraskevi and Agia Anargyri) reputedly the model for the "Bourani," home to the mysterious Conchis character, who may or not have been a psychiatrist, a film producer, a Nazi sympathizer or a magician controlling the fates of the other characters.

Agia Paraskevi.

It was a wonderful tour. Alyce vowed to hike it next time. That would be without me.


THURSDAY, JANUARY 22 - Packed, rested and ready. A quick lunch in town, then it was time to go down to the port for our Flying Cat voyage back to Piraeus and Athens.

Waiting for the catamaran.

Fashionistas travelin' heavy. Alyce and John added one of their bags for dramatic impact.

My ride is here.

Back in Athens. The four of us checked into the Hilton, parted company for a bit of R&R, then reconvened for apéros at the rooftop Galaxy Bar.

Photo by John.

Best. Travel. Buds. Ever.

One more birthday dinner to go.

Milos, in the lower level of the Athens Hilton, is one of the top seafood restaurants in the world.

The grand finale took place at the glass-walled chef's table in the kitchen area.

We reunited the unusual suspects for this dining experience. Clockwise from top left: Alexandra, Marti and I with Mania, Alyce and John, George. (Montage from the earlier dinner at Kanella; this time we only took food pics.)

Choose yer poisson.

We picked sea bass, grouper and red mullet.

Tasty little clams appetizer.

Grilled veggies and cheese.

Tender squid.

Grilled prawns.

Boiled mountain greens. Gotta love that Mediterranean Diet.

One of our main courses: fried barbounia (red mullet). Simply a sensational meal. And a memorable moment with dear friends. We bid farewell to Alyce and John after dinner. They had a gawd-awful-early flight the next morning.


FRIDAY, JANUARY 23 - A few hours left until our flight home to Paris. After breakfast Marti and I jumped in a taxi to Kolonaki for an on-deadline shopping quest. Of course I scored a couple of apparel items in the January Sales.

Lunch back where it all began: Colonaki Tops.

Stop us before we eat again. Clockwise from bottom: Fava (yellow split pea purée), bunny w/ oregano, kolokithia (mini zucchini), artichokes. The last meal on the trip. (Unless there's a plane delay.)

Frappés (iced coffees) and karythopita (walnut cake). A fitting conclusion.

Airport bound. With my last-minute birthday shopping. Shirts from Nikos Apostolopoulos and Rococo, just off Kolonaki Square.

The past 16 days in Greece had been more than I could ever have expected. Great hangs with super people, new friends, sidekicks who came all the way from San Diego to party with us, live music, scrumptious dining, spectacular sights. A birthday dream come true.


And the #MrPhil70thBirthdayTour was far from over. In the next few months we'd be off to party with pals in Amsterdam, the U.S. East Coast (NYC/ Memphis/ Nashville/ Woodstock/ Stockbridge/ Springfield/ Cape Cod) and Rome!

I should really commission a tour t-shirt.



Thanks to Alyce, John and Marti for their photo contributions.