On the corner of Syntagma Square and Amalias sits the Grande Bretagne Hotel. There is nothing of particular architectural interest to the building but it’s old, solid and reliable, the grande dame of Athens. When there were three nights of rioting outside its doors it carried on as ever and didn’t evacuate anyone who didn’t ask to be evacuated. Unlike the other hotels on the square who scrambled everyone out. I like to think that the guests carried on drinking and eating on the roof garden and were far too polite to mention the tear gas although I imagine it would have thinned somewhat by the third floor.
Our budget doesn’t generally run to the GB. From time to time we’ve attended various functions in the ballroom which have been heavily subsidised but we promised ourselves that we would go and have cocktails on the roof terrace before we left Athens. Much is made of the view of the Acropolis from this terrace and it’s truly a great view, but most hotels in downtown Athens will have a view of the Acropolis because it’s pretty hard to miss. There are cheaper options and, I’m sad to say, probably better ones. There was not enough fuss and the snacks weren’t great; a bowl of unsalted nuts for heaven’s sake.
I was ridiculously excited about going to the GB and once I’d got a seat at the bar I photographed everything. When I wasn’t photographing things I was pointing or gawping and generally acting like the hick tourist. I don’t care, I like to get excited about things and drinking cocktails up there is definitely something I don’t get to do every day. For the price of our two drinks we could have bought a bottle of gin, a bottle of vermouth, put some ice in a flask and sat on Philapapou Hill and had an even better view of the Acropolis, that is until our eyes glazed over. But then I wouldn’t have got to see all the rich and glamorous people who seemed a little bored, or maybe just not too interested in the idea that they were sitting in one of the most glamorous shows in town looking at a fantastic view. And then I started wondering about what really rich people do to treat themselves. Although I spend a lot of time thinking that I’d like to have several things that I don’t have I know that I’m actually pretty lucky. After watching the poor rich people on Friday I think I’m really lucky because I’m able to be excited about what can be seen to be a pretty small thing whereas the only thing left for them would be to invade a small country.