This article originally appeared in Greek in the Athens Voice. Read the original. A translation provided by Dr. Sanders follows:
My favorite places and spaces in Athens are often the ones where I have had a Greek lesson, spaces where I have learned something from Athens and Athenians. I know I will find a warm welcome at the mezedopoleio Mikri Vouli in Pagrati’s well hidden Plateia Varnava. But Costa and his afternoon crew, Sakis, Vladimiro and Thanasi, do more than offer fresh, carefully prepared, delicious and beautifully presented food. They serve up a whole ambiance of friendly calm and repose. This is a happy lesson and one that most visitors, whether temporary ones or the permanent variety like me, might hope to have from Athens.
Another lesson Athens has given me is one that took me a little longer to learn. Athenians, and I suspect Greeks in general, remember actively. And the spaces that house these memories are not merely landscapes or monuments to be viewed from a distance with respect; they are also vibrant parts of the city’s fabric. The Alsos Skopefterio (Park of the Shooting Range) in Kaisariani is such a space with its beautiful and beautifully somber monument honoring members of the urban resistance to the German occupation. In my most recent visit the dilapidated and overgrown chambers at the back of the neoclassical building that was the original shooting range (and will soon, I was glad to see, be a Museum of the National Resistance) had been replaced by a rose garden. It is peaceful, but only for a minute and then the skateboarding kids and graffiti distract your attention. Or perhaps it is because of the graffiti, skateboards and bicycles, the playing children, the strolling pensioners and dog walkers that you can palpably feel the memory captured in this wonderful space on the lower slopes of Mt. Hymettos.