Sunday, June 28, 2015

Currently, in Greece

If you've been following European news at all, or even just know that Europe exists, you might have heard that Greece is facing a bit of a cash flow problem. I'm not going to pretend to know the specifics of what's been going on here, but I can tell you generally what's happened since we landed. If you read through all of this, you can have some pictures at the end. I guess you could just skip to the end for the pictures, but that would be cheating.

This week, Greece was in talks with the Eurozone finance people to try to renegotiate their debts. Greece is supposed to make a payment on the 30th, but won't be able to pay. The Eurozone told Greece to implement austerity measures, basically to increase taxes and cut pensions, and that if Greece did, they'd probably be able to renegotiate terms, and get some more cash. G told EZ that they can't implement the austerity measures, and then yesterday essentially told EZ to stuff it by saying that they'd put the austerity demands to a referendum vote...on July 5th...5 days after their payment was due. G's Parliament approved the referendum vote, and EZ flipped. Talks with EZ are over, and the European Central Bank is about to make a decision today on whether or not to extend emergency cash assistance to G. If they don't, Greece is in large trouble. Potential fallout includes bank runs, a huge decrease in standard of living, a whole bunch of angry locals, and Grexit (Greece actually leaving the EuroZone and having to use its own currency). 

We don't know yet how we will be affected. We're in a suburb away from the city center, and likely won't see a lot of demonstrations, if those happen. We're more likely to deal with minor inconveniences, like transportation disruptions, which feels icky to whine about considering that the Greek people are staring down the barrel of economic disaster. On the other hand, they've been at that point about a million times before today. 


UPDATE: In the twenty minutes it took me to post this, the European Central Bank just announced that it will maintain Greece's funding limit, but it won't give it any extra cash. So now we wait and see what happens to Greek banks.


Okay, okay. Here are your pictures. We rode the metro into the main city yesterday and saw things from a distance. 

Phil's awake! This is a pretty good representation of Greece:
lots of really old stuff stuffed into areas surrounded by new city growth.
Here's another one. Old thing on the left. Old thing in the middle.
Huge, giant, new city on the right.

2 comments:

  1. Found your blog via Gwyn Gentry. My 10 year old daughter, my mom and I are traveling to Italy and Greece in September for 2 weeks and are currently wondering how the state of things will affect our travel. We are coming in and leaving from Athens. Sorry if this is a duplicate comment, for some reason I commented before and it didn't look like it saved it. I don't comment on blogs usually so not sure how it works. :)

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  2. Hi! I love Gwyndolynn. It's hard to say what things will be like in September, but I think that travelers haven't been affected too much. I would keep abreast of what State Department and U.S. Embassy in Athens say on their websites about safety, but that's a given wherever you travel. Other travel advice I've read online says to make sure you come in with enough cash to eat and get around. Most of the bigger places (hotels, grocery stores, ferry companies), will accept credit cards. A lot of the smaller places, and places on the islands, are cash only. If you're planning to stay in smaller places, it's a good idea to ask them in advance how they'll want you to pay. If you're planning to take public transportation around Athens, download the TfA tickets app (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.oasa.mobileapp&hl=en, https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/tfa-tickets/id946540748?mt=8), and that will save you some cash on the metro/buses. Most of the demonstrations are in the evening, so you can still visit Parliament and Syntagma during the day without running into stuff. This has been a really hard time on the Greek people, but I actually think it's a pretty good time to come visit. The euro is falling against the dollar, and if people get spooked and cancel their trips, it just means more space for the rest of us.

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