I can’t believe it’s been a month since I arrived in Greece! Some days it feels like the time has flown by while at other times it seems as if I’ve been here forever. Now that I have lived here for four weeks, I thought I would share some interesting anecdotes about the cultural and political atmosphere in Athens. In addition to the crazy driving and the abundance of dogs and cats, which I’ve already mentioned, another constancy is the presence of frequent demonstrations. Although I am careful not to get too close or to be involved, I feel privileged to be able to witness such a pivotal time in Greek history. As we have been told by CYA staff members, most demonstrations are not violent protests but planned expressions of Greek democracy. I’ve walked past three or four demonstrations since being in Greece and have never felt unsafe. That being said, this past Wednesday was a day of general strike and some violence erupted in Sytagma Square. I live about a twenty minute walk from this area of Athens so fortunately I was not anywhere near these protests. I did however feel a small effect of the general strike, as I was supposed to meet my art history class at a museum but couldn’t because it was closed.
Another slice of Greek culture that I’ve experienced came in the form of the local farmer’s market. On Friday, my housemates and I decided to explore the farmer’s market that is held once a week in our neighborhood of Pangrati. It stretches uphill in the center of the neighborhood with vendors lined all along the street. We arrived at about 11 in the morning and were immediately engulfed by the crowds of people. Vendors yelled out prices while eager shoppers picked out the best fruits and vegetables. We ended up getting a ton of fresh peaches, grapes, carrots, and even thirty eggs! On our way back from the market, I looked up and noticed a gas station. I read the sign and took note of the price of gas. The sign read 1.235 euros per liter (that’s not exact, I can’t remember the specific number). Anyway, I was curious to convert this to dollars per gallon so I could compare it to prices in the states. After consulting with my housemates (and google), I discovered that the price of gas in Athens is currently about $9 or $10 per gallon! That’s right, next time you pull up to wawa just be thankful you’re not buying gas in Greece!
In addition to our adventures at the farmer’s market, this weekend a few friends and I decided to spend a day at Cape Sounion. We left Athens on Saturday in the early afternoon and took the 90 minute bus ride down the coast. The scenery we passed while on the bus was beautiful so I didn’t mind the trip. After arriving at Sounion, we ate lunch and then headed to the beach! The weather was gorgeous as usual and the sea was so clear and blue! Thanks to Anthony’s previous post, we kept a look out for sea urchins and avoided stepping on the few that we saw. After our swim, we headed up the hill to visit the Temple of Poseidon. This amazing Doric temple stands on a promontory overlooking the Aegean Sea. I don’t think I can describe how beautiful the view is from this cliff, but hopefully you can get a sense of it from the pictures.
Hope you enjoy!