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New York and back for 50 Euros

Posted by on Jan 13, 2013 in All posts, Greece | 0 comments

Sitting in first class comfy seats with attentive staff serving drinks and snacks, enjoying fancy Dolby Surround sound, to attend an opera performance at the New York Metropolitan – all for 50 Euros… …is sadly not a description of a decadent frequent flyer deal (I recently read that American Airlines has stopped issuing unlimited air-travel tickets for life) but, as in this case, it is just my experience at the sparkling Megaron Athens Concert Hall. So, I am not talking flight tickets to New York. (Sorry.) Instead, we attended a projection of a popular Mozart piece straight from the New York  Metropolitan Opera (in November 2012), comfortably seated at the modern Megaron Athens Concert Hall. I have to say that I was positively surprised by the acoustic quality of the live transmission from the Met. The visual impressions were...

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The fall of Greece

Posted by on Dec 10, 2012 in All posts, Greece | 0 comments

Greece has come a long way from the prosperous community it once was, to become the debt-saddled country struggling to keep up with commitments – badly needed to guarantee rescue loan payments and long-term Euro membership. “No society ever reached the heights that were attained by ancient Greece. It was the cradle of culture. It was a happy country. What happened? What made it fall? Historians don’t satisfy me. Wars, politics… Something’s missing, something personal. I want to walk where Aristotle walked. Socrates… I can’t explain it. I don’t know. I have a feeling I’ll find something.” (Quote from ‘Never on a Sunday’) I walked, just like amateur philosopher and American tourist Homer from the great 1960 Greek film ‘Never on a Sunday’. This is what I saw. There is a prevalent anarchic element in Athens. It’s about the...

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Witnessing the crisis

Posted by on Dec 8, 2012 in All posts, Greece | 0 comments

During times of economic crisis Greeks turn to socialism, immigration, religion and stereotypes. We live in Kypseli which is one of many places in Athens that has transformed into a ‘charming multicultural neighbourhood’, which means that it is populated by a multitude of immigrants which Greek taxi drivers call ‘not a good area’. But frankly, Athens is one ‘charming multicultural city’ and many are still coming to terms with that. Multitude of immigrants are minding their business on the streets. Around 90 per cent of illegal immigrants to the European Union use Greece as a gateway to the bloc. There is always someone with a trolley rummaging the trash containers. Many just sit around house entrances or public squares. Refugees and illegal immigrants face hard and stressful times in Athens. Selling fake brand merchandise, washing car windows at the...

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Polish diaspora in Athens and choosing baby names

Posted by on Dec 6, 2012 in All posts, Greece | 0 comments

Athens is becoming a big multi cultural community. An expanding immigrant population is filling the neighbourhoods, such as Kypseli (where we live for two months) which sadly makes Greeks move away. This is what it might feel like to be a Turkish immigrant in my home town Cologne in Germany, also known as ‘Little Istanbul‘. Foreigners don’t need to learn the language of the country they live in, shopping in their stores, living the lives of their country of origin. Still, somehow I don’t see Athens dominated by one ethnic group, instead there seems to be a mixture of immigrants of diverse origin. The good thing is that the Polish diaspora is actually well integrated due to a high working morale, similar cultural and compatible religious traditions and therefore well liked by the Greek community. In between African, Russian,...

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Plastic bags and recycling in Athens

Posted by on Dec 5, 2012 in All posts, Greece | 0 comments

“Do you need a plastic bag, miss?” asked the cashier at Marks and Sparks as I was buying some delish take away meals. I was delighted to dig into the tasty-healthy salads, snacks and deserts in Cambridge last week but that’s going to be another post. Without giving the cashier’s question a thought I replied “Yes”, only to take it back seconds after. I do not need a bag. Plastic bags are a dirty luxury our environment can’t afford. But: thank you for asking. I had gotten used to Greek plastic bag ethics where you are not asked but automatically covered with plastic bags. Greeks love to pack, foil, wrap. Everything. Environmental concerns are not exactly top on the list of priorities for average Athenians. According to the Ecological Recycling Society in central Athens, one-fifth of the entire waste...

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Greek Christmas and the Nutcracker ballet in Athens

Posted by on Dec 1, 2012 in All posts, Greece | 2 comments

Since we started to travel the world, I have not been able to continue ballet class which I think I am trying to compensate, on a subconscious level, through an increased attendance at ballet performances. Last Sunday we went to the National State Opera in Athens to see the Nutcracker. A classic to set you right into Christmas mode, which for Greece is not a big holiday.   CHRISTMAS IN GREECE – the Santa of Greece is Saint Basil (This is entertaining.) In Greece 95% are members of the Greek Orthodox Church and Christmas only comes second to Easter. Christmas decorations are scarce in Athens and would admittedly look funny on orange trees. Santa is avoiding Greece all together. Not due to the possibility of reindeer protesting for snow and elves putting down work demanding aircon. In Greece Santa...

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On shoes and two Greek fashion brands

Posted by on Nov 25, 2012 in All posts, Beauty and Fashion, Greece | 0 comments

Looking for local fashion labels in countries we travel, we have come across two Greek designers that present unique treasures in their winter collection. Lucky me, I could stock up on winter boots before going to Cambridge tomorrow. I like shoes, like any other woman, just a bit more. So let’s start with footwear.   SHOES MADE IN GREECE The shoe maker Fotis Chaniotakis established his company in 1975 and produces hand-made shoes in Greece with two stores in Athens. They have designed the “Olympic sandal” for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games but sell more than sandals, creating exclusive shoe palettes. Twenty-five people are employed in the production line and that makes it sound like out of a story book, where diligent pucks and pixies sit together to manually work meticulous machinery, sewing and stitching to make the most...

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Shopping in Athens: Monastiraki Flea Market, Plaka & Malls

Posted by on Nov 20, 2012 in All posts, Greece | 1 comment

Hi girls and guys who like to shop! I have been doing my shopping spree in Athens, tried out various shopping malls and already assembled my winter collection. I also came across a very sweet flea market in Monastiraki, some very horrible souvenirs in Plaka and I wondered about the stressful life of minorities who are strongly linked to Athenian recycling at the trash containers. All of which I am going to share in this post. So let’s start with the most interesting shopping sight, the flea market in Monastiraki.   THE FLEA MARKET (on Avissinias Square)  The so labelled ‘Athens flea market’ mainly just sells regular some cheap, some original clothing and footwear. Convenience stores sell unusual cannabis drinks –  something I have not seen since my student trips to Amsterdam.   Bear in mind that the flea...

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Hands-on experience at the Greek market

Posted by on Nov 19, 2012 in All posts, Greece | 0 comments

For an earthy, organic Greek experience we spent some time at a LAIKI, the typical Greek outdoor market. Held once a week on a designated day and designated street, it can span several blocks. Most neighbourhoods in Athens have one. We followed Tomek’s auntie, a real (Polish) Greek , who brought us along to buy fresh ingredients at her market. Once you enter the Greek market, a crowd of busy housewives and shouting farmers awaits. This friendly merchant just stopped shouting for the picture.   Row after row of local vegetables and fruits. Organic lifestyles and smoking habits go well together in Athens.   Auntie Madga routinely started to assemble the ingredients for dinner. Spinach and rocket salad, radish and fresh herbs. And a lot of sweet and juicy Greek grapes.   Touching and checking is allowed and professionally...

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Greek Tree of Life

Posted by on Nov 6, 2012 in All posts, Greece | 0 comments

The OLIVE TREE is not just any tree. There is a reason it is so popular in Greece and can be seen growing all over Athens, the city of the goddess Athena. Athena and the olive tree make for a twisted story, straight from marvellous Greek mythology. Once upon a time, a long long time ago, all residents with the athletic physique of Greek statues, who lived in miniature Parthenons at the hill of the Acropolis, were asked to chose a governor for their town. Two candidates were competing with one another for the honour, using their wits and power, to convince the Greek citizens of their supreme competence and benefits to the town. Both, ATHENA and POSEIDON attempted to become patrons of the city and to give their name to it. They decided that each would give the...

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Living Greek

Posted by on Nov 5, 2012 in All posts, Greece | 0 comments

Athens will be our temporary home for about two months. That is if it is going to keep up with perpetual travelers weather requirements of constant 25 °C. So far Greece is doing a great job keeping any signs of fall at bay. The only thing to get depressed about is the economic crisis but everyday strikes and street protests are supported by sunny weather and have been categorized under tourist attractions.   WHERE WE LIVE AND MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE We live in the neighbourhood of Kypseli, close to Athens centre, where our life has been going up and down lately. Kypseli is a hilly area of Athens.   Kypseli was once a distinctive bourgeois neighbourhood of Athens and has preserved its aristocratic character. Amongst modern blocks, stately neoclassical buildings and flats of the modernist period can be spotted and...

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The Food of Greek Gods

Posted by on Nov 3, 2012 in All posts, Greece | 0 comments

Cooking is my new hobby here in Athens, as Greek cuisine is a fairly uncomplicated matter. Feta cheese, white bread, Greek olive oil and Garlic are the basic ingredients of delish simplicity. Greek gods are watching over the country with perfect climate control promoting a prosper cultivation of vegetables and fruits. Tomatoes, carrots, garlic, zucchini, aubergines, long peppers and green beans occupy the garden’s of the Gods. Juicy melons, lemons and grapes are probably harvested by Hera herself. Okay, maybe not Hera, the supreme goddess has other stuff to attend to but maybe the demi-god of the BEAN, Cyamites. No joke, he does exist. There are three gods alone presiding over the making of BREAD. Deipneus, demi-god of the preparation of bread, Eunostus, goddess of the flour and Hestia, goddess of the hearth who is looking over the production...

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