Hellenic Blues - Some More Holiday Snaps

Look at the colour of that sea!  This was taken from the deck as we were approaching Piraeus.

Syrian refugee families sitting along with their new Greek friends at the cafe on the top deck of the Blue Star.  

Cleaning the boat in Piraeus.

The graffiti artist behind this piece of street art evidently doesn't realise is that Fix beer, Greece's oldest brewery, was started by a Herr Fuchs, official brewer to the court of King Otto of Bavaria when he was crowned first King of the Hellenes. As the locals could not pronounce Fuchs it became Fix.  The brand still exists but is now indeed a Greek beer.

Among the low rise modern hotels and office buildings in central Athens there are many neglected and abandoned neo-classical buildings.  A pigeon has taken over this one in the Plaka.

That wooden contraption has been rigged to prevent bits of falling masonry from hitting pedestrians below.

This one was evidently lovingly restored and then abandoned more recently.

There are lots of tiny lanes and pedestrian ways to explore.

Fresh produce for sale near the entrance to the flea market.

If you look carefully that is indeed the Acropolis in the background.

Ancient churches, 19th century neo-classical buildings, antiquities and modern shopping brands make a patchwork of contrasts in central Chorio.

As we were strolling during the Saturday afternoon siesta I don't know if this shop has closed due to the recession or simply for lunch.  The old boy playing the hurdy gurdy however is an example of the countless different kinds of street musicians to be seen - and heard - on the streets of Athens.  Many of them having been playing traditional music on the streets of Athens for decades - we spoke to one chap (he did not want his photo taken) who has been doing this for a living since arriving in the city 30 years ago.  He was in his fifties then and is in his eighties now.

The monument commemorating the battle of Thermophylae, which we passed on the way to Meteora.  Pity about the power pylons.

The battlefield.  At the time this was a bottle neck between the mountains and the sea but the shore has silted up over the centuries and it is now well inland.
These are the last of the photographs from my recent trip to Athens.  Meanwhile, here on Symi it is baking hot and very busy as we have had a lot of visitors from Turkey, celebrating the Eid holiday. The Greek border islands are very popular with Turkish tourists as they are an opportunity to experience something different without going too far from home.  Lots of other nationalities are arriving now too - French, Italian, Spanish, Norwegian, German, Danish, Finnish, British, Australian - we have quite a mix staying in our houses at the moment.

The banks reopened today, providing a limited service.  There are still restrictions in place for Greek bank account holders and it is not possible to send money abroad due to the capital controls.  We are also limited to a maximum withdrawal of 420 euros per week (60 euros per day) but at least we don't have to take it out in 7 trips to the ATM!  Foreign tourists are not affected as they have cards linked to foreign bank accounts and can withdraw up to their regular card limits. The only tourists who are suffering are the Greek ones, alas, as with all the banking restrictions they cannot withdraw enough money from their accounts to cover their holidays, which is very sad. While Symi is managing fine as we have two banks, both with ATMs, some of the smaller and more remote islands which don't have banks or ATMs and are more dependent on internal Greek tourism are really battling to function as they have no means of accessing cash at all.

There is plenty of stuff in the shops and so far no one has reported any shortages although there are some delays in building materials, spare parts and appliances that are not produced in Greece and not routinely kept in stock.  No doubt various systems will evolve eventually to solve all these problems.

Have a good week.


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About this Blog

I sailed into Panormitis Bay, Symi, by chance one windy July day in 1993 and have been here ever since. The locals tell me that this is one of the miracles of St Michael of Panormitis. A BA graduate with majors in English, Philosophy and Classical Civilisation, the idea of living in what is to all intents and purposes an archaeological site appeals to me. Not as small as Kastellorizo, not as touristy as Rhodes, Symi is just the right size. I live on a small holding which my husband and I have reclaimed from a ruin of over-grazing and neglect and turned into a small oasis over the course of the past 22 years. I also work part-time for Symi Visitor Accommodation, helping independent travellers discover and enjoy Symi's simple pleasures for themselves.

This page is kindly sponsored by Wendy Wilcox, Symi Visitor Accommodation.

Adriana Shum

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