A Stroll in the Centre of Athens before Christmas
Trip Start Apr 24, 2011
79Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
Royal Olympic Hotel Athens
Read my review - 5/5 stars
Read my review - 5/5 stars
It is 11:00 am and I am out in the streets of Athens heading towards Syntagma Square. I set off very optimistic this time sure that this stroll will cheer me up.
I want to feel the Christmas spirit something that I did not find when we were in Athens some days back.
It is a nice sunny morning and the walk is pleasant –no need to carry a coat or even a jacket. This is the first positive but I long for more…. I carry my camera along and I stop for a while for a few photos at the ancient ruins of the Temple of Zeus. I remember that a year back I was here again at the same street and I paid to get inside and take photos of the archaeological site.
I continue walking until I come to the National Park and a few minutes later I reach the Constitution Square, "Syntagma" as we call it in Greek.
There is traffic jam in the streets and it feels nice that I have the time to fool about, stop for pictures like a tourist and as I come closer to the centre I am more and more excited.
As I climb down the steps towards Ermou Street I hear Christmas carols coming from microphones that are scattered here and there. I remember years back this area looked like a fairy tale spot with the house of Santa, the dwarfs' village, candy cottages and many more. There used to be a huge tree so beautifully decorated and the square was the highlight of the city of Athens. Even if carols are on nothing reminds of those days 3 years back. The music comes from a huge iron stand made of glass something ugly that I don’t wish to describe, but you can see what I mean through my photos.
The dark colors of peoples’ clothing prevail reminding me of Doha and the ladies in their abaya fashion. I observe the peoples faces and I see sadness
There are Black people selling purses and bags ….what an ugly picture! I hear somebody whistling and another signaling from a corner and in seconds the bags and purses are collected and I see the 3 men running to hide. I see them again much later standing and waiting probably for another signal to start selling again.
There is only One Santa where years back you would see several of them in the streets and this picture this morning is SO disappointing. It is as if the Santa has been dropped out there belatedly. I stop for some minutes and watch the people how they walk away from him. Everybody seems busy and deep in thought and the poor guy looks around nervously probably trying to spot some children who might want to take a photo with him but with no luck! What a bad timing for him to be out here! Children are at home or at school. It is the first time I see a nervous Santa. He is surely a foreigner and I am sure he feels stupid standing out there looking at the sad people go by ….like a circus clown
Street vendors must have come from Monastiraki and stand on the side of the pedestrian street waiting for people to buy their goods. What they sell are handmade bracelets, necklaces or rings, but I don’t see much interest in people. They are mostly foreigners.
There are two guys selling salep or salepi as we call it in Greek. It is a nutrient hot drink, kind of sweet, ideal for the cold winter days and good for the throat. I have seen it a lot in Turkey too. They store it in pitchers in the colour of gold.
With this and that I realize that I will get more disappointed if I continue walking further down the street so I decide to return.
As I come closer to the square again I notice armed policemen in every street corner and from loudspeakers I hear people protesting. The more I approach the louder the voices become until I come across them from the other side of the street. They are protesting because they are jobless. It seems this is their starting point so they stand still probably waiting for more to join in
I am sorry that I don’t write something interesting but I only describe how the situation is. Get the whole picture through my photos.
Honestly, I am very disappointed but at least I have something positive to think of now. I don’t want to spoil my day….it is still early and …Yes! I know exactly what I can do. I am going to have a voluptuous enjoyment of a hot babble bath back in the hotel.
The next morning although it was a rainy day I asked Yianni to come along with me to a Mall. There is no way a Mall won’t be decorated at this time of year. How could I forget about it yesterday! I should have come here instead.
I did not carry my camera though and I regretted it later on when I saw the amazing décor, the many Christmas trees and ornaments, stars and sleighs outside wooden little houses.
We spent the whole morning here at the Mall, did some shopping, had lunch the two of us and returned to the hotel early afternoon.