Monday, July 13, 2015

Downtown Athens on a Sunday

It was a tense weekend for the Eurozone. If you want an interesting perspective on what happened, BBC News' Economics Correspondent has a pretty great Twitter rundown here. It looks like Greece will be getting a third bailout.  Per standard operating procedure of this blog, economic news is discussed first, followed by fun pictures.  

Economy News
It's hard to know how the Greek people (and the Greek economy) will react to the new deal. Hopefully they'll be able to open the banks soon so people can access their cash. The banks have been closed now for two weeks. I think it's become a daily ritual for people to go to the ATM, withdraw their 66 euros, and hide it somewhere in their home. Public transportation has still been free on weekdays, and will be for the rest of today and tomorrow. There are still regular nightly demonstrations in Syntagma, but I think that happens pretty much all the time. 

In the more affluent suburbs, you don't see the crisis as much. There are still lines at the ATM, and sometimes at the grocery store, but nothing like the bare store shelves I've seen published on NBC News. We haven't encountered any problems getting what we need from the local market (with the exception of Crisco, which we wouldn't be able to find here during boom years, either). We went to a mall on Saturday, and it was packed with people hauling around multiple bags of purchases, and refueling at the food court cafes. It's weird to hear about the difficulties from American news sources, but not to see them. I'm sure if we were living elsewhere, we'd have a better view of the problems. 

Fun and Pictures
We went downtown yesterday to check out the Athens Flea Market. There was a lot of junk there. Sandals seemed especially popular, particularly at The Poet-Sandal Maker of Athens's shop. Stavros Melissinos and his buds have made sandals for Jackie-O, Sarah Jessica Parker, Joe Biden, and a bunch of other expensive people. The line at his store was huge. 

This street was between the flea market and sandal store.
It's partly deserted because it was a Sunday.
It's partly deserted because everything's gone out of business.

This is right across the street from the Monastiraki metro stop.
We peeked inside that old church in the foreground.
It's Orthodox, and has beautiful icons everywhere.
That's the Acropolis on the hill in the background.

After perusing the flea market, we grabbed some gyros and wandered to Syntagma Square and the Parliament building. It looks a lot different during the day from the way it looks on international news at night with thousands of protesters. We watched a Changing of the Guards ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and walked over to the high-end shopping district in Kolonaki. We were aiming for a pancake place that had been described to Phil as the "IHOP of Athens," but it was a Sunday afternoon, and everything was closed. 

Phil in a demonstration of one.
The Changing of the Guards. Imagine how hot they were.
And check out their shoes. 

We started back to the bus stop, and happened across what's left of the Lyceum on our way there. The Lyceum was used at various times as a gym, military base, library, school, and and hangout for really smart dudes. The sign out front said something like, "You're looking at the most important historical site in the history of the human mind," or some other philosophical hype like that. I don't buy it. You know who made it big there, aside from Aristotle? Socrates. And that bum can eat it, after what his methods put me through in law school. 

That place. That place is where the Socratic method originated.

I forgot to mention that we picked up a half-kilo of cherries at Monastiraki for a euro. That's about $1.11 for 1.10 pounds. This place is a fruit-lover's paradise. 

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