The Hotel Acropolis House has changed since I first stayed there way back in 1985. It’s in my favourite area of Athens, Plaka.
I had been living on Mykonos for 18 months, but had decided to go and teach in Turkey. For various personal reasons that meant that I needed to go back to Britain for a couple of weeks. I was going by ferry and road, so it was going to take some time to get back to the UK.
I had arranged to have money transferred to me and sent to the National Bank of Greece in central Athens. I had an account on Mykonos, and with typical Greek inefficiency (it’s better now) the bank in Athens sent the money to my account in Mykonos.
When I arrived at the bank in Athens, they told me that they had sent it to Mykonos only half an hour before. I pointed out that it must still be there, so please could they check and give it to me. “Oh no!” was the reply, as now the fax was down. This was a usual occurrence/excuse.
Of course they needed to have it confirmed in writing (fax) that the money was in my account.
“Come back tomorrow” they said.
That was the start of my misfortunes.
I didn’t have much money with me, and really needed to get my hands on some. Luckily I was with a couple of Irish friends of mine, so it wasn’t an immediate problem.
It was apparent that we would have to stay in Athens at least for the night. My friends knew the Acropolis House Hotel and the Plaka area, so we went for lunch in what has become my favourite taverna: Taverna Plaka in Kidathenaeion St.
We left the taverna and checked in to the Acropolis House Hotel. The guy we were with was given a dormitory room, sharing with a couple of Aussies. My friend and I had a huge bedroom, which had been half of a ballroom when the house was a family one, in the 19th century.
I have to tell you that there was only one light switch to pull and that was above my friend;s head. I was on the far side of the room.
I was almost drifting off to sleep when I saw a man in evening wear (stiff, starched collar, bow tie and black suit) standing over my bed. He bent down and was just about to kiss me when my friend pulled the light cord.
She had felt cold, and wondered why. I was so glad to have the room illuminated by the antiquated chandelier!
I told her what I had seen, and we grabbed some clothes and went to the reception desk. The person at the desk was not the same one as had been there when we checked in.
We told him about the ghost and he stared at me rather disconcertingly, given the situation.
He pulled a sepia photograph from under the reception desk and asked me if I recognised anyone. I immediately pointed to my ghost. Then he asked me to look more closely. It was my friend who pointed to a woman and said, “Lynne, that’s you.”
I looked and saw that the woman really did look like me, or perhaps I should say that I looked like her.
I asked who the people were, and was told that the man and woman had been engaged. The hotel (then a house) had belonged to the man’s family and they had built it.
The woman had come from a wealthy Athenian family and when her father did a little digging into he fiances background, he insisted she break off the engagement because the man’s father had got all his money from gambling.
She did as her father wished and broke off the engagement.
Her betrothed was so distraught that he hanged himself from the chandelier in what was then the ballroom – where I had been trying to sleep.
The next night, and for several after that, we stayed somewhere else.