The lure of Athens

Note: This is the first of two posts recounting Eye on the East’s recent visit to Athens.

Already two trips to Greece and I still haven’t been to its idyllic beaches and islands. Don’t be mistaken, I get along very well with the sun and my first name imposes that I never be too far from the ocean. But so far, Greece has only been about in and around Athens for me. During my first trip six years ago, it was the romanticism of Athens’ past that kept me from wandering elsewhere, reminiscing about the tales of ancient times through the grandeur of the Acropolis and imagining the endless nights of song and dance while walking along the ruins of an old Greek theater. Now, after my second trip only days ago, and again, the appeal of Athens was because of its present and future. Its present, crafted by the historic win of the far-left Syriza party in the last parliamentary elections, a defiant cry by the Greek people for change, while its future is unfolding as we speak (and write) and there was no better place to get a feel for what awaits Greece than in the heart of the country. Of course, there is much more to Athens than the current crisis, but the crisis has dominated much of its current landscape and my conversations over coffee, souvlaki and Greek wine. As I attempt to synthesize what I heard, felt and thought during this last trip, putting it all into perspective as part of the latest developments, here’s what my camera lens managed to bring back…

The Hellenic Parliament, the Greek Parliament overlooking Syntagma Square in central Athens, where members face one of the most challenging crisis in contemporary Greek history.
The Evzones, the honor guards, on their way from the ceremonial changing of the guard in front of the Hellenic Parliament and a leading Athenian touristic attraction.
The postcard-like blue and white facades Greece is so well-known for are never too far away, even from Athens’ city center. Plaka, Athens.
There’s the ancient in the museums and the old in the flea market….Monastiraki Flea Market.
The Acropolis, always in Athens’ background, no matter where the crowds go. Monastiraki Square.
Monastiraki Square.
Never a bad time to go to sea. Porto Rafti, Aegean Sea.
They said it was the church of Saint Marina, but the only God I saw was Poseidon, the God of the Sea. Porto Rafti, Aegean Sea.
Just one of many captivating street art representations in Athens. Omonia, Athens.
“Omonia Coffee Shop” because Arabs are never too far away. Omonia, Athens.
“Solidarity with the immigrant Women.” In the midst of its own financial crisis, Greece has also had to deal with thousands of migrants fleeing horrors across the Mediterranean. Panepistimio, Athens.
In times of crisis, protest. Panepistimio, Athens.
The Temple of Olympian Zeus, in central Athens. Where are the Gods when you need them?

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