If you think about Greece, it would be a mistake not to think about rebetiko. Please do listen this song while reading this article about one of my favorite countries in the world.
Since I was an exchange student in Munich, I have visited many countries of European Union. I can easily say that Greece is the least European country among all the countries I have visited. This is not a bad or a good thing, just different but still makes you feel welcomed.
I assume you are all familiar with the economical situation in the country and the referendum that was held in Greece not long ago. I do not want to make this article boring with economical facts, (which I barely understand) but current situation in the country does not allow you to ignore it either. This also brings us to the name of this entry. I am not sure if it was the direct effect of the economical situation or not but in almost each district or street there is one or more abandoned old houses. They just stand there and amaze you with their ability to resist time, despite being left alone to their destiny. Makes you both impressed and sad at the same time. You can take a look at some of them here:
Abandoned house pictures are taken by Elsa.
After landing in Athens and leaving our stuff in our room, we decided to take walk in this ancient but vibrant city. Luckily we were well connected to the main attractions. Going to Athens and not visiting Acropolis is really not an option. You can see it’s magnificence from very far away. When we reached it’s gates, we noticed the huge line at the entrance, which was in our opinion unusual as it was the beginning of March. Not very later, we found out that in Greece, museums are free to enter every first Sunday of each month. Which of course increased the interest to visit the monument. After a bit of line and waiting in a soft sunny March day, we visited the Acropolis. Acropolis and the campus of it is just amazing. Makes you remember again how mighty the Ancient Greece was.
The people who visited Greece before I did, always suggested me to go to the Islands instead of the mainland. I wanted to visit them both but we only had 5 days planned in Greece and you never know in March if the weather is good enough to visit islands. As you can see in the picture, the weather was better than we could expect in Athens. This made us decide to go to the closest island to Athens, Aegina. The ferry ride takes around an hour to get to the island from Piraeus. After reaching the island, we found out that moped is the only way to get around on Aegina. The problem was, Elsa left her licence back in Berlin and I have left mine in our room in Athens center. But before telling about what we did later on, I feel like I should explain the reason I left my driver’s license home.
I might seem very ignorant with saying that actually we did not realize Piraeus was a city of it’s own. But it is really easy to make the same mistake, as there is no separation of city borders that you can notice from the metro that takes you there. If you want to go to Athens with ferry, that is mostly where you land. ToOdamızdan Akropolis manzarasıbe honest, it was one of the ugliest ports I have ever seen in my life. Somehow completely betonized and the construction works which seem to be there since the beginning of the time does not make it more inviting. From Monastiraki station, we took the metro to Piraeus. It was like Tokyo metro (which I have never been to, but yes I also watched the famous videos of conductors pushing people inside of the trains.). Extremely crowded in the middle of the day. Athens accommodates almost half of the population of Greece. Therefore it is extremely densely populated. Despite the crowd, you can still easily feel home there. Elsa got into the metro I wanted to follow her and stand next to her. There was a guy between us, somehow blocking my way in the crowd. It is understandable to have some body contact in a crowded train but this was just too much. When I tried to go right of him, he went left (facing me), when I tried the other way, he blocked me again. I mean, sure it is a crowded train but not that crowded for a very thin athletic guy like me (the author made a joke here) to not be able to pass. Then suddenly I felt my wallet moving up from my left front pocket. With a moment of reflex, I moved my hand to my pocket and caught the wrist of the pickpocket! First time in my life, something like that happened to me. Luckily I had my wallet in my front pocket, if it wasn’t I would have lost it. After a little hand to hand action, I started to shout in every language I know and he started to shout at me in Greek. I have of course no idea what he said but he left the train immediately. After he left, I felt the eyes of other people in the train looking at me like if I was the one who tried to steal someone else’s money. Maybe he said that I was the pickpocket in Greek, who knows… Then I decided to put this behind me and not let it ruin our time in Greece. In the evening, we decided to leave every important document home except an id, cash and student cards. That was the reason I did not have my driver’s licence when we arrived in Aegina.
Just some couple of last words about Athens, until last decades, they did not have a proper law that protects historical buildings and artifacts. That let people build ridiculous buildings next to, on top of or under a thousand years old temple. If you ever been to Istanbul, you can also see the resemblance in that case. Each street has it’s own spirit and different types of street food it always there waiting for you to try. I felt very comfortable with their food, as it was quite similar to Turkish kitchen. I can easily say that Athens earned a good place in my hypothetical list of favorite cities.
You know what? This article has been longer than I wanted it to be. I decided that I am going to write our Thessaloniki and Aegina experience in another article. Because I know this one is just too long to read.
Here you can find my article about Thessaloniki and Aegina.