A Travellerspoint blog

I admit, I've been a slacker

(a walk through Anafiotika)

So here it is and I have failed to post an entry for two weeks. Forgive me for being so inattentive. I hope you have not all abandoned me. Life got busy with school, walks around Athens, trips to Ancient Olympia. Don't even get me started on lack of reliable internet here. It's up. It's down. It's up again. You just never know.

The Greek Key is a class we are required to take in order to learn more about the Greek culture and way of life. It is not structured in a classroom setting. It is comprised of an individual project that can include volunteer work or independent study on some aspect of Greek life, various walks around Athens, a few individual "Athoriginal" walks, and posting responses to these walks on the board for the class. I've had two walks thus far and have decided to volunteer for a cat rescue society here for my project. The group I will hopefully be working with is called Nine Lives( http://www.ninelivesgreece.com/ ). I hope to help feed the stray colonies and possibly do some photography for them. If all works well, I will have my first meeting with them next week. Wish me luck. It will be heartbreaking work for me I'm sure. I wish every cat had the loving home and care that my cats receive.

My first walk was in a neighborhood called Anafiotika. Anafiotika is more reminiscent of the Greek islands than it is of Athens. Narrow winding pathways take you up through the neighborhood among whitewashed houses. It was built by those who came to Athens from the island of Anafi just after the Greek revolution in 1830. It is said that laws were put in place at the time to prevent people from building in order to claim property rights. A loophole existed, however, that said if one could put up 4 walls and a roof in 24 hours the land would be theirs. The construction workers of Anafi managed to build and roof these houses overnight thus claiming the property. I enjoyed the solitude of Anafiotika. It feels far removed from Athens, but like Athens it is an up and down walk!

Stairs entering the neighborhood of Anafiotika.

The view from the top, just under the shadow of the Acropolis is amazing!


I found many cats to live there. It seems they have a better existence than a lot of cats in Athens. Far removed from traffic they seemed healthy and content. The orange cat lounging on the stairs was particularly content in his life. That is how I like to see a cat. Warming in the sun, pleased with its surroundings. As you can see in the photo with the two cats curled up sleeping, people feed the animals a variety of foods that most of us would never dream feeding them, such as bread. Far form nutritionally sufficient for a cat I guess it is better than starving. I can only hope they get scraps of meat as well.




Another common feature of Athens, and Anafiotika is no exception, is of course graffiti. I found these particularly interesting and inspiring. Statements or just random? Your guess is as good as mine.


What are you hungry for?


This was the site of one of the mosques that use to exist in Athens dating from Ottoman rule. Unfortunately no active mosques exist today in Athens. There have been plans for one to be built, but I understand there is some opposition to it by the Orthodox Church. On one hand I can understand, given the duration of Ottoman rule over Greece. On the other hand, why can't we all just get along?


With our walk finished, I'll leave you with this. The new Acropolis museum. Controversy surrounds it in more than one way. Some say the architecture should not be so modern. But I found the idea of having it reflect the Acropolis in its sleek modern glass front brilliant. Yet capitalism rears its ugly head. A beautiful historical building that sits in front of the museum is in danger of being torn down because it blocks the view of the Acropolis from the coffee shop of the museum. Needless to say I signed the petition to save the building. I think it is a ridiculous reason to tear down a historical building. The other big controversy that surrounds the museum is the Elgin Marbles. For those unfamiliar with the marbles the consist of some of the sculptures from the Parthenon friezes that were disastrously removed by Lord Elgin when Greece was under Turkish rule. Taken by Elgin to Britain they remain to this day in a British museum. Greece wants them back, in fact insists that they were taken wrongly and belong to Greece. It is a subject of much debate among historians and archaeologists. Arguments abound on both sides of the issue. Me? I say give them back to Greece. The belong beside the Parthenon. I think it is only in their true environment that they can be appreciated. That said, I must do a response paper after some reading on this and who knows what my stance will be after that. I'll keep you updated.


Finally, the colors of Plaka and Monastiraki.......no controversy here. These simply make me happy.


Posted by oceanchild 11:06 Archived in Greece Tagged living_abroad Comments (2)

Athens First Cemetery

Along with some cats and graffiti

sunny 23 °C

Sunday evening, after a day in of reading and homework, I decided to go out by myself (which I seem to be doing a lot of lately) and find the Athens cemetery. I’ve read about the cemetery and its wonderful sculpture and had wanted to find it for a while. It actually isn’t that far from my apartment. Finding it wasn’t hard, but finding the entrance took a few wrong turns. Those wrong turns brought me some interesting finds in both cats and graffiti. Graffiti first. Finally something that was not a random word scrawled on a wall. I still have to figure out what Buns, Subs, crew mean. That’s for another day though.

Sunday I found this sad little clown. He almost looks like a charcoal drawing. I think I would like to see him in color.


Further up this wrong turn, I found the fish. It would be neat in color too.


But best of all were these two mural-like pieces. It was color I wanted, it was color I got. I assume the same artist did them since the style is so similar and they all include elements of water. Either that or it was a copycat artist. None the less, I liked them. Especially the teddy bear holding the sickle and hammer. Interesting message behind it I’m sure. Considering the communist party is active in this country I wonder.




I also discovered several cats on my walk. I first ran into this friendly orange fellow. He was soaking up all the attention he could get. In fact, he would not stay still enough for me to get a really good photo of him!


While taking in the big graffiti wall I noticed some small cats peeking out from the brush at me. Since they were in a little fenced area and looked rather well taken care of I have to assume they were not strays. They were quick to check me out and I prayed they wouldn't try to follow me across the street. They didn't.



As I walked back toward the cemetery, hoping to find the entrance, I noticed a group of cats eating out of some large bowls. As I approached slowly and bent to take a photo I noticed a woman also approaching. I said hello in Greek and she spoke something back to me. I told her I didn’t speak much Greek and then she told me she was Austrian. She said the cats weren’t hers but she feeds them. I was told it was mostly foreigners who feed the cats here. I thanked her for feeding them. Maybe I’ll run into her again and can chat. It was clear that she loved cats, even if it was just spaghetti they were getting.


Handsome is as handsome does!!



I finally found the entrance to the cemetery. What a cemetery it is! I did not get to do a great deal of exploring because 1) it was raining and 2) I was afraid of getting locked in since it was getting close to sunset. But I did get to see a few of the wonderful sculptures. I promise one day I will go back and explore every path, every monument, and every crypt! I understand it is not unusual to see people having a picnic in there! I’m not sure I’ll go that far though. Merlina Mercouri, a famous Greek actress is buried within, but I did not see her grave. I will have to find it as well as the grave of Heinrich Schleiman and the famous “Sleeping Girl” statue.

Entrance to the cemetery.....yes it was raining


Church just inside the cemetery gates...this photo was taken from up on the hill outside the cemetery.


Some of the sculptures.....




This one struck me as particularly humorous, although I'm not sure it was meant to be....


As I left the cemetery, in the rain, I discovered this beautiful little girl running to a dry place. I’ll leave you with that, and save my Anafiotika walk for another day.


Posted by oceanchild 11:42 Archived in Greece Tagged living_abroad Comments (1)

The mysterious bird at the Temple of Poseidon

It is now not so mysterious

overcast 20 °C


It's another cool, overcast, breezy day here in the city of Athens. It is quite a contrast from the oppressive heat we had the first week I was here. I like it. It makes for better sleeping. I also don't like to sweat. I do need to buy warm clothes because I did not bring any with me. I'll save that for a weekday afternoon I suppose since most shops aside from tourist traps are closed on Sundays here. I may go for a walk later, after I've studied some more Greek. I'm stuck on one question I have to answer in a complete sentence. Foreign languages make my head spin sometimes. Just think, Linda Blair in Athens. That's me.

The real purpose of this post, however, was to let you know that I did my research and thanks to my moderate knowledge of birds I identified the bird from the Temple of Poseidon.


It is a Rock Partridge (Alectoris graeca). I knew it looked like a partridge, or pheasant, and I was right!

Not much else to add today. I just wanted to tell you about the bird just to show you I am doing something besides finding all the weird sites in Athens.


Posted by oceanchild 05:33 Archived in Greece Tagged animal Comments (0)

How much window shopping can one do in Athens?

Apparently a lot

overcast 18 °C

Shopping in Athens can be an interesting experience to say the least. I’m guessing the economy here must not be as bad as in the US? People seem to be doing a lot of shopping. The stores on a Saturday afternoon are as crowded as Christmas in the US. It’s shoulder-to-shoulder people at the check out. Then again I was amazed at those who were just window-shopping. You would think people had never seen shoes before!


Walking down Ermou in Syntagma Square brings some interesting sites. I already showed you the interesting lingerie displays in a previous entry. I thought these Christmas caroler wannabes (well, they reminded me of Christmas carolers) mannequins fit the bill for interesting though. Love the day-glo hair.


You can find all sorts of food to eat. Cafés, McDonalds, Everest….and street vendors such as those selling delicious baked goods. I have to find out what these are called, but the varieties were tomato and cheese, chocolate, and cheese. If I hadn’t just eaten a chocolate croissant, which was delightful I might add, I certainly would have indulged in one of these.


Roasted corn seems to be popular as well. I might just give it a try one day.


Shopping is as varied as it gets here. From the 3 Euro clothing store to Sephora, you can find it in Syntagma.


Walk a bit further and you end up in the flea market. Wow, two trips to the flea market in one week. I’m showing my true colors aren’t I? But Samantha wanted to check it out and I had nothing better to do, so why not? Besides, you find some interesting items at the flea market. Like a totally naked Dopey doll. Yes, Dopey the Dwarf is sans his typical oversized green tunic. Pitiful isn’t it?


Interesting replicas of some Nazi daggers.


Sam found this sword and was just drooling over it, until she asked the price. A mere 500 Euros is what the vendor wanted. I’m not entirely sure I’d have such a pricey item just lying there without much security. Maybe it isn’t worth all that much and he just thought he would take some naïve Americans. Didn’t work.


Gotta love the phallic obsession here. Phallic bottle openers. What will they think of next? Goes well with the nice little Satyr statue. I keep wondering for whom back home this would make a nice gift? Any takers?


Philosophers and Sinatra…a natural combination?

We finally escaped the masses of Monastiraki and made it back to Syntagma. On the way he walked by the Stoa of Attilus in the Ancient Agora. King Attalos of Pergamon who ruled from 159-138 BCE originally founded it. It burnt in 267 CE and was reconstructed in the 1950’s using the original foundation and ancient materials and now houses a museum.



Back toward Syntagma we happened upon the cathedral of Mitropoli. With the cornerstone laid in 1812 it took another 20 years to complete. It appeared to be under restoration, so I wasn’t able to get any good full view photos. When I have more time I certainly want to go explore it a bit closer. It is open to the public but we opted not to go inside.


It was just another typical day of walking around Plaka, Monistiraki, and Syntagma. Sam and I finished it off by sitting in a little café in Plaiteia Varnarva and having coffee drinks. We had a challenge given to us when we first came here to sit in a café and out last a group of Greeks. We did it! We outlasted two groups. Does that mean we are catching on to the Greek spirit? I hope so.

Oh…what would an entry be without a few felines? Some of them are not being very cooperative, but this little black one was so sweet. I want to take them all home.



Posted by oceanchild 13:40 Archived in Greece Tagged shopping Comments (0)

The Temple of Poseidon

Just chillin' at Sounio

sunny 26 °C

Temple of Poseidon

I was really wowed today. Wowed like I would have expected to be by the Parthenon. I guess maybe Poseidon is my god? Today we took a trip down to Lavrio to visit the Technology Culture Park, and then on to Sounio to visit the Temple of Poseidon. The Technology Culture Park focused mainly on the mining culture in the area. It was neat to see, but our guide was difficult to hear because we had such a large group. I honestly can’t say I learned much there because of that. So I’ll skip on by and go on to Sounio. Sounio is located at the southern most tip of the mainland. The drive from Lavrio to Sounio gave us some great views of the sea and finally some real green foliage. So far most of the foliage has been a rather drab, dusty, sage green. Not that I don’t like olive trees, but the brighter green was a welcome sight. We arrived at the Temple and thankfully the temperatures were cooler than expected. It was quite breezy as well. The Temple was built in 444 BCE. It sits high on a promontory that juts out into the sea. It is said that the temple was the first thing that mariners would glinting in the sun when sailing toward the land. I do have to say it is quite an amazing site sitting up there above it all.


I think I did go a bit overboard, taking photos at every angle, going for the monumental look (it wasn’t hard), finding the best light. I just love this part of being here though. This is really why I’m here.


It’s dramatic.


The columns of the Temple of Poseidon are of the Doric order. The columns have only 16 flutings instead of the usual 20, which has helped with erosion over the years.


But time, weather, and humans all play a role in the eroding of these great monuments. Most of Greeks monuments are roped off from the public. Sad but necessary. It wasn’t the case in 1810 when Lord Byron visited this temple. He carved his name on one of the ante and it remains there today.
There is Lord Byron’s graffiti. Second block up from the bottom, The lighter area just above the seam.


Ok, here it is a bit closer. You can make out the name Byron if you look closely.


Unfortunately many others followed Byron’s example. I’m sure people would still be doing it if it weren’t roped off from human contact.


The views from up on the hill were quite spectacular. I have heard mention of the “Greek light.” The light is differnet, making things look extraordinary. I think today I understood.




Simply beautiful.

While walking around the temple I kept hearing some sort of bird calling. Then I saw it. In the temple at first and later on the ground around it. I’m not quite sure what kind of bird it is. If anyone has an idea let me know. It looks almost related to the partridge? I’m not sure and I’m too lazy to research it right now. It was a beautiful bird none the less.


We left the Temple of Poseidon and headed down to the beach to find some lunch, swim, walk around, do whatever. I had the fava, along with a Greek salad. The fava is amazing, sort of like lentil soup, even down to putting the lemon on it. I have to learn to make the fava. I could almost eat it daily!


Other than lunch and chatting I didn’t do much on the beach. It was a bit cool for a swim in my opinion. Besides, my second towel was stolen when we were on Kea and I haven’t replaced it. I didn’t bring a change of clothes and did not want to ride back to Athens wet. So I just took a few photos and enjoyed the beautiful weather.




One of the Greek language teachers, Apostolos, brought his niece on the trip today. She was simply adorable. He said she loved to take photos and she was pretty interested in my camera. You can tell she is quite the camera ham here!



No cats today, but I did decide to finally photograph a dog. I prefer cats in my camera lens though. I haven’t seen many cats at the sites though.


Now the sad part is I’m doing laundry on a Friday night. Some others went to the Odeon of Herodes Atticus to see the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater. I opted not to go. I’m kind of glad I didn’t because guess what? It’s raining in Athens again.

Posted by oceanchild 11:41 Archived in Greece Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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