The flame arrives

Yesterday we got free invitations to attend the special party to welcome the torch to Athens. It is in the beautiful Odeon of Herod Atticus. It is a full house, so it takes a while for people to get to their seats in this ancient open theatre. In the meantime, the torch is being carried around Athens towards us, footage of which is being projected over the wall of stone behind the stage. As the torch passes the Odeon, it is carried by former Olympic champion Carl Lewis. The torch is finally taken up the Acropolis and there is a special ceremony at the Parthenon, where the torch is to rest at night. We have followed all of this through video projections on the Odeon’s stone, which create a strange and memorable effect. The Mayor, the head of the Hellenic Culture Committee, the Prime Minister and the head of ATHOC all make speeches at the Parthenon and, after this, come to join us at the Odeon for a concert. The concert is also attended by the King of Greece and the rest of top Greek personalities.

It is a beautiful concert, in particular, the second piece, with title ‘Slow Motion’, by a Greek contemporary composer. There is also a funny situation during the third piece by Shostakovich. The solo pianist stops playing of a sudden in a rage and seems about to leave due to being disturbed by loud noise in the background that spoils the quiet moments of the composition. This is the down side of having the whole of Athens celebrating! The orchestra director manages to convince him to stay to the relief of the concert organisers and front row personalities. In the way out of the concert we have the chance to say hello to Kostas Georgiadis, the dean of the International Olympic Academy, who, as always is half-smiling and happy to see us.

Unfortunately, we end up missing the special cultural activities organised by ATHOC to celebrate the opening of their ‘Catch the Light’ programme in the Keramikos area. Our group has grown unexpectedly and we must accommodate and go to Plaka for a most needed dinner.