No longer as truthful as should be deserved, some names, places and events deliberately vague to protect identities that aren't mine

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Hellenic Observations Day 2

A random collection of observations from day 2.

My shoes are covered in dust - dry sandy soils mean it can't be helped.  Walking over monuments and ancient fields makes it even worse.  My shoes become stained a dry white from walking.  I like walking on holidays.  I like hiking in the heat.  15-20km throughout the day as I encircle and recross the entire Acropolis hill 4 times over.  It's a good hike, something I don't get in the UK - the weather isn't good and I'm allergic to half the countryside there and just not enthused by the remainder.  The last time I hiked this well it was Labor Day and I walked 20 miles through the Marin County headlands north of the Golden Gate and back down through the Presidio along the cliff line.  I miss such days.

Coffee is popular here.  Good coffee.  I saw but a single Starbucks in 15 miles of walking (also meaning the availability of free power to scam is limited).  Coffee is cheap (1€) and available 24h everywhere whether in the centre or suburbs - is the 24h culture a product of the warmer climate, or is London just truly very very shit at 24h amenities? (An ever constant gripe of mine).  (As a side note, coffee is also awkwardly political, as its basically Turkish style coffee, but that's a dirty word, so here you have to say Greek coffee.  Because politics)

No McDonalds either.  A lot of fast food pita places though.  Not complaining.  Souvlaki has been my staple every meal except one.

The state of the economy is obvious.  Everyone talks about it to an effectively rich tourist like me.  Every street has multiple abandoned storefronts and homes.  Huge industrial complexes lie mothballed, the cost of recovering the equipment proving even too exorbitant.  Everyone here smokes - what is it about the seeming connotation between smoking (or drugs in general, be they socially acceptable or not) and low quality of life, despite the necessity for regular excess expenditure it creates?  There is graffiti everywhere.  I mean even on the abandoned shops next to the state palace (now parliament building) and on the fountain in front of the Zappeion.  There is no money to pay to employ people to clean it up.  Most of the shops I wander through outside of the tourist areas are run down light industrial and commercial - a fruit warehouse, car mechanics, spare parts for boiler repairs, phone and tech pawn shops.  I don't have a comparative point of reference, this is my first visit.  The middle class complains most to me - money they have but can't access, frustrated at having seen their quality of living drop so suddenly and dramatically despite their relative wealth.  But its a Saturday night, the streets are packed in my tourist free suburb of Keratsini, the youth of Athens and Piraeus out on the streets in their little groups and those around my age and older filling out every table in every restaurant.  If there's a shortage of money and rife unemployment you couldn't see it in the nightlife.  It's the harsh light of day that shows the stark reality of how many restaurants are surrounded by failed, vandalized once+competitors.

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