Greece in Bite Size Pieces – Athens

subway car, Greece, Athens, graffiti

When we first got to Greece there was some serious culture shock.We arrived late to our VRBO apartment which was by the exclusive hotel Radisson Blu.
It was dark, we didn’t understand the letters of the language let alone the language itself, and the cabby tried to drop us off at a parkette at 11pm.
Not happening.
We weren’t getting off at the parkette, this was clear to all present.
We called our landlord and he spoke to the cabby.
You’d think this would have solved the whole location of apartment issue right?
Cabby still had no idea where the apartment was and he’s a local.
The streets can be confusing, perhaps the street signs are confusing for the locals as well?
We eventually did arrive at our destination.
Dropped our bags and headed out.  We won’t wander through parkettes at night oh no.
We will die a thousand deaths to attain a gyro/shish kabob and a glass of wine.
When in Greece…am I right?

Look how happy we are – mission accomplished!


We found an awesome store-front restaurant with everything we could hope for.

An endless charcoal grill.
A cooler with Greek wine.
So good.  This became our go to as it was right around the corner from our apartment and open super late.
If we had this here it would be an absolute gold mine!

As we began to explore Athens, the culture shock took hold.  Allow me to explain.
I feel we lead a very bubble wrapped, controlled existence in Canada.
We’re told what we can do, how we can do it and where.
There’s rules, warning signs and railings keeping us from doing things that may obviously (or not) hurt us.
The trade off is living in a country where chaos does not reign supreme, it’s clean and controlled and for the most part everyone is taken care of.
Note:  Canada is deeply rooted in our heart.

Greece, through our eyes, initially, was a shocker.
Going in knowing the financial situation (not good) of Greece as a country there was some obvious signs of lacking in government funded initiatives.  Take for example, general landscaping at national monuments, graffiti left unchecked, maintenance on buildings/streets, small stuff really and totally expected.

abandoned building, Athens, Graffitti

The graffiti gets you first.  Coming from a place where it’s so taboo in the smallest of instances it’s pretty shocking.

When you have a place with such a high unemployment rate and nowhere for people to put their energy sometimes it’s expressed on the streets through murals and tagging.

Your inner Canadian simmers down after a good day of exposure and you realize – this is just the way it is.
There is also a permit system afoot that awards certain buildings to budding street artists.
Lemons to lemonade.

After awhile you get kind of inspired by the sheer talent of these street artists and start to appreciate the creativity and vibrancy of their efforts.

Athens, graffiti, storefront, bookshop

I’m sure there is a great deal of frustration within the business community when their store fronts are deemed canvas.
But people here don’t just survive hard times.
People here welcome every day with thankfulness and hope.
They smile a lot.
They take care of strangers, each other as well as the rogue cats and dogs wandering around.

downtown park, sleeping dogs, Athens

Never seen random big dogs all sleeping in the park before, no worries, no stress.

There are cats everywhere.
Therefore there are cat bowls of food and water everywhere laid out by the humans who love them. 

The cats and dogs here don’t chase each other off or hiss at each other.  We’ve watched cats and dogs walking side by side on the street.
They are all taken care of and can co-exist peacefully.
Very strange concept but so lovely.  Perhaps we could learn from this example on a global level.

Lets not forget the birds.

The plentiful vendors selling everything from spices to musical instruments, work it every day.

This is in front of the subway station.  Look at those perfectly stacked strawberries!
Another common trait amongst the Greeks – pride.
Doesn’t matter what they’re doing, they take pride in their work.



Every day they set up and peddle their goods.

Life here is not easy.  No one is given or even expects anything from anyone.
Hard work.  Good product.  Pride.
Greeks live it every day.

I guess you could say that the ones with actual stores have it easy as far as set up and tear down.
This amazing kitchen supply store was…amazing.
To me anyways.

This basket guy on the other hand definitely has his work cut out for him when its closing time!  Baskets are big business here.

Yes, I staged Stevo at the basket place lol!

This is where he wanted to shop:

If we weren’t back packing, and were even remotely musically inclined, we would have definitely picked up one of these beauties.

On the off shoot that you can’t find what you want in one of these defined product stores there’s these one of every kind shops straight out of Stephen King.

I have no doubt that there’s magic to be found here.


It seems stupid that on day one I was shocked at seeing a garbage bin on fire in a dark alley and some graffiti.
I feel stupid for it.

Here’s the thing.  The culture shock came from a difference in exposure.
Your comfort zone is where you come from and what you know.
Once you open your mind and accept something different as ok it changes everything.
It changes you.  Our culture shock was from being exposed to something we weren’t used to.
Greece is colorful, vibrant, caring and alive.
Delicious too, Greece is delicious!

Greece changed us in so many ways.
It has taken this long for me to sit down and share this very small part.

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