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From Jacksonville Beach, FL

Thursday, July 7, 2011

This was Greek to me--impressions and more photos

                                                      Protest signs in Athens, Greece
                                                  (Click on photos to see them larger)

        Since returning from Greece the main question asked of me is "Did you see any of the riots in Athens?"  We did see protest signs like the ones in the photo above, and we heard shouts from the streets until very late at night, but most of the rough stuff took place after we left Athens and headed for the countryside, where we heard nothing about the protests.  They were confined to a very small area in Athens and unless you were in those few blocks, you didn't know they were happening.  
      Almost every Athenian we conversed with did express his opinion about the cause of the unrest.  Our taxi driver, hotel doorman, and waiter were unhappy with the scheduled vote for austerity measures.  They always waited for us to ask for an opinion, but then did not hesitate to express that they thought the working person was being taken advantage of and the wealthy people would have no hardship if the measures were approved.  Political corruption was often blamed.
     The people in Athens are out of work and poor. In the our hotel neighborhood in the heart of Athens, young men walked and stood around on the streets, slept on the sidewalks and generally made it obvious that no work could be found. The unemployment rate is about 16%, but youthful joblessness is about 36%.  Walking down the street, we saw a purse snatcher run past us with a woman's pocketbook under his arm.  He ran into the crowd and got away. We held tightly to our purses on the streets and subway after that.  
       This poverty contrasts greatly with the abundance of crops in the country.  There is also a huge tourist influx.  In Greece life seems to be feast or famine.
        One area very popular with tourists and where everyone is working is the Plaka, a bazaar
like shopping area abounding in Greek made goods and Greek foods.  Narrow, winding alleys and streets form a labyrinthine maze of  shopping temptations.  
         Who could go to Greece and not write about the food!  Greek salads, baklava, and Greek coffee were my favorites.  I brought a bag of Greek coffee home to try to create that lovely, strong taste.  I'm now addicted to Greek coffee. Our tour group had wonderful luncheon stops where ever we went.  We  always ate outside under an arbor of grapevines or with a view of the sea.  One of our waiters insisted we all try a glass of orange juice, which was delicious, much sweeter than what I know in Florida.  He called himself "the Zeus of juice." 
We were in what is called the "valley of oranges" on that stop.  
       In spite of my dislike of tours, mealtime was good.  It was like sharing lunch with a large family with lots of talk and laughter.  I guess it is the school teacher still in me, but teens are fun.  
       One thought that continuously came to mind as we toured museums and monuments was that the Greeks created sculptures that show fully-developed women, not skinny girls.  The very beautiful Erechtheion on the Acropolis with the graceful Karyatids as columns is a good example.  It would be difficult to depict drapery and folds on undeveloped bodies.  This appeals to me as I find the pounds slipping on with age.
     And finally, one word about Mykonos.  Maybe the beaches there were nude at one time, but not on any we saw.  We saw only a few instances of toplessness.  The beach itself can't hold a candle to our Florida beaches.  They are narrow and the sand is course and yellow or else the beach is covered with little rocks.  Most beaches rent lounge chairs and umbrellas.  Those rocks aren't comfortable for sunning.  
       I'm still thinking about Greece and wake up seeing photos in my mind of the beautiful water and countryside.  It was truly a trip of a lifetime for me.  I thought several times of my high school Latin teacher, Mrs. Hardy.  I wish I could thank her for awakening me to the mythology and philosophy of ancient Greece and Rome.  I finally got there Mrs. Hardy, and it was even better than you said.   

The Plaka shopping area in Athens.

Buildings are very close together in Athens. This photo
was taken from the top of our hotel.  Note the Acropolis 
in the far background.

Olive orchards in the country.  Olive trees are small
with silvery, green leaves.

Erectheion with Karyatids as columns on the porch
area, my favorite Greek building.  Note that blue sky. It
is not  photographically enhanced.

Paradise Beach on Mykonos Island


  1. Makes me want to go. Beautiful photos!

  2. Awesome pictures. Thanks for sharing.