Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Greeking Out

"This is SPARTA!" (300 reference, anyone?). When I think of Greece I get this beautiful picture in my head of bare chested Olympians running to and fro between white houses towards the crystal clear blue Mediterranean sea. The reality is so disappointing. Somewhere in Belgrade I heard that Greece was, "as Balkan as it gets," or maybe I heard it was, a "Balkan place." Well shoot people, it's true. It is so Balkany up in here. They've tried to hide it with marble and the lack of communist architecture but I can see through the facade. You, dear Greece, are just as Balkany as the rest of 'em! Coffee bars everywhere, bad hair cuts (yes, there are mullets, too many mullets), the markets, the people, the fashion (acid wash jeans with tight shirts and gold chains), the stray dogs and cats roaming the streets, need I say more? I could but then I would bore you all to death and we wouldn't want that. 

In Athens I found myself wondering: "How the heck is Greece bankrupt?" Everything is so dern expensive. And then it hit me, again, like many of the Balkan countries, people are out drinking coffee all day long. What do they do for a living? Unemployment is just as big of an issue here as it is anywhere else in the world. And similar to the issues of those countries going through huge revolutions at the moment (Egypt specifically) Greece, too, has an entire generation of young people who are overeducated and unemployed. Fun fact: the city of Thessaloniki is in the running for "European Youth Capital 2014." 

I know Greece was never on the itinerary but here I am in ThessalonĂ­ki. Athens was almost exactly what I expected it to be: big ol' city, lots of cool history, and tour groups. I haven't heard that many American accents in one place since... the Portland Airport five-ish months ago. I visited the Parthenon (and didn't realize it), the Ancient Agora, the first Olympic Stadium, the museums, and ate some delicious Greek cuisine.

This place has so much history it was difficult to decide what to see for my brief stay. I couldn't go to any of the islands, I didn't get to see Meteroa or visit Mt. Olympus (or at least the peak that they named Mt. Olympus). I only had enough time to visit of Athens and ThessalonĂ­ki but it was certainly worth visiting even if it did rain the entire time. 


Olympic Stadium

National Library

Orange tree on the side of the street

Cute old men playing a tune!

I win!

Where? OH you mean that HUGE THING ON TOP OF THE HILL?


Athens = Big



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