I had lunch with the President, Celebrities in Greece

I’m not really sure where this post belongs, or if it even belongs on my Athens Travel blog, (although perhaps since it highlights such an important cultural difference, it does fit) but it underscored something I have long noticed about Greece and Greeks. Celebrities here have a somewhat different status than in the US, and my experience recently at the New Acropolis Museum just highlights that.


Basil and I were having lunch in the café of the New Acropolis Museum, and when we arrived at the café we noticed that one section was closed off. The café is really just a large rectagular space, one long, large hall essentially. The roped off area had tables set up in a large rectangle, and the servers were just finishing dressing the tables. The terrace, where we had planned to sit on this visit (our third since the museum and café opened) was closed, although there were a couple of “suits” outside mulling about. We asked our server who was coming for lunch and she shrugged and said, “some dignitary”.

We ordered, sharing a lovely fresh salad, a baguette sandwich and my favorite, the Cretan cheese with honeydew and thyme honey, and as we were preparing to pay a whirlwind of activity began around us. A small group of people had entered the café and were heading to the terrace, behind them the press corps, cameras flashing. We turned to see who it was, but the Athenian woman next to me filled me in before I could figure it out. “It’s President Papoulias, I think he’s with some Swedish princesses”, as she turned back to her salad, took a sip of wine and resumed the conversation she and her friends were having.

Turns out the Swedish princess was HRH Crown Princess Victoria and the Reuters photographer did a better job than I did, alas, he was allowed on the café’s terrace.