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The sun came back to Athens today and as Athenians race around for last minute gifts, the city’s holiday festivals are in full swing. While the Greeks spend the holidays with friends and family, the city is still filled with visitors wondering just what there is to do in Athens on days like Christmas day when the archeological sites and museums are closed. Well, contrary to popular belief, the city of Athens does not roll up on Christmas Eve. Already mentioned on this blog was the Christmas Eve open air celebration at Technopolis, but for those who want to share the musical spirit or just experience a bit of very traditional modern Greek culture, consider spending Christmas Eve or Boxing Day (December 26, the day after Christmas) with Giorgos Dalaras and friends at the Palace Theater. Right from the Start (“Ola apo tin arxi”) is a retrospective of Greek music featuring Dalaras and a group of young singers, actors and a 14 piece band. Ticket prices range from 27 to 73 euro and at the time of this entry were still available for both December 25 and December 26, 2007 and can be ordered online here: http://www.ellthea.gr/show_event?id=153&lang=en.

For visitors to Greece not familiar with Dalaras, he is, on some level, synonymous with Greek music. The child of a rembetika singer in the 50s and 60s, Dalaras released his first album in 1969 and has gone on to record more than 50 more on his own as well as appearing along with other musicians in almost the same number of recordings. He has worked with such famous Greek composers as Mikos Theodorakis, Apostolis Kaldaras, Stavros Kouyioumitsis, Yiannis Markopoulos, Manos Loizos, Stavros Xarhakos and recorded just about every style of Greek music (along with “Latin”, a fantastic recording of latin music with latin style Greek music on the flip side.

An evening with Dalaras is not just another evening of music. It is a journey into the heart and sole of the Greek pathos – His energy and charisma on stage are contagious, and the each time I see him perform I am awed as an American watching the audience, always a diverse generational mix, yet young and old seem to know every word to the songs he sings, and when Dalaras motions for the band to stop as the audience sings, and everyone is joined in song, the warmth I feel in my heart reminds me once more why I fell in love with Greece and the Greeks.

So, if you are looking for the perfect Christmas present for yourself, your friends or family, and you all happen to be in Athens over Christmas this year, an evening with Dalaras will be a gift they never forget.

By Athensguide

How does a little girl from Skokie, Illinois find herself in historical Athens, leading curious explorers through the winding streets of Plaka, down "pezodromos" to hidden ouzeries for tempting mezedhes and homemade barrel wine? The journey began more than twenty years ago, and regardless of whether the wanderlust comes from the spiritual and culture DNA flowing through my veins, or the alignment of the stars on that cold mid-December day this Sagitterian came into the world, I never seem to tire of exploring my adopted homeland of Greece. Here you'll join me as I explore Athens: be it the back streets of Psirri and Gazi, or through the National Gardens and Zappeio where a family of turtles makes their home, or down wide, treelined Imittou Street in Pagrati, which pulses with Athenian life 24 hours a day. And while Athens has stolen my heart, the rest of Greece vies for my curiousity and wanderlust. My two guys (that'd be the Greek God, Vasilis and our Greek dog, Scruffy) and I can often be found settling in for a long weekend in some charming mountain village, or a quaint fishing port on a nearby island, or learning how Greek vitners are producing wines that rival some of Napa Valley's finests productions, or celebrating a panayeri in Epirus or sharing in the festivities as a family of Cretan sheepherders come together to sheer their 1500 sheep in the spring ... And if you happen to find yourself heading to Athens, consider finding yourself a real home for your stay. Living amongst the locals, be it for 3 nights or 3 weeks, will offer you the chance to experience true Athens, beyond the Acropolis. Choose from one of our 5 beautiful penthouse and historical homes, and who knows, I may be leading you down that winding "pezodromo" to our favorite hidden ouzerie!