Not in my wildest dreams would I think that my two days on Andros would end up with meeting three celebrities.
Ok, the first one didn’t speak to me. I observed him from afar at Kórthi, one of the permanently windswept beaches of Andros, site of the 2000 World Youth Windsurfing championships and main training ground of local boy Yorgos Frangos, 28 years old. Yorgos, who has won several medals for Greece is one of the country’s Olympic gold hopes for 2012; he was taking advantage of the wavy Aegean sea when I was around.
The second celebrity is Argyró, the most famous patissière on Mykonos. After 15 years she abandoned her place in the centre of town in a dispute about rent. Mykonos regulars will be shocked to find a mini-market in the place of the best chocolate mousse in the Cyclades. Argyró was notorious for teaching people how to eat it: ‘Make a small hole in the middle, put some cream in and then sweep with spoon outwards. OUTWARDS I SAID!’ and she would insist on the ritual until you mastered it.
Well, Mykonos’s loss is Andros’s gain where Argyró is now working at the Chryssi Akti Hotel – where I happened to be staying.
The final celebrity is a biggie. During my research, I visited top Hotel Andros Holiday. I noticed a sign for a creative arts workshop – the Aegean Arts Circle Creative Writing Workshop. One of the names rang familiar: Nick Papandreou, established author, and brother of the current Greek Prime Minister, George Papandreou.
And an old classmate of mine whom I hadn’t seen since primary school.
I walked down the stairs to the pool. There were a few people around; I asked who was Nick Papandreou. There was silence. Someone, I wouldn’t have recognized wearily said ‘It’s me’ expecting some bollocking from an anti-government protester or worse.
“John Malathronas”, I introduced myself.
He got up immediately and shook my hand, laughing with disbelief. (And, I presume, some relief.)
The rest of the company looked on perplexed and then listened with interest, as we started reminiscing of a past that is not simply another country, but another planet.