Balkans Day 15: Athens (part 2)

Having slaked out thirst at a fine, if expensive, parkside café (captive audience and all that!) we finally managed to pull our ancient carcasses out of our seats in the oppressive heat and drag ourselves into the Greek National Garden which lies to the eastern side of the Acropolis.  Having done so we soon found ourselves in some beautiful shaded gardens, dedicated more, it must be said, to trees than flowers, but lovely and cool nonetheless.

Wandering through here we were able to relax and forget about where in Athens our awful hotel was.  Families were enjoying the virtues of the place without, seemingly, worrying about the shady characters hanging around in the shrubbery.  Given the problems Athens and Greece have suffered recently, thanks to a class of professional politicians who have betrayed the Greek people and ripped off the rest of the European Union without thought for anything but the contents of their own pockets, one doesn’t blame people who have been shat on for being disabused of the system that let them down and these folk, to their immense credit, didn’t hit on us like others in eastern Europe.  Kudos.  Dignity is a commodity  than cannot be bought and sold.

This made our ramblings round this beautiful place all the more enjoyable…

A wonderfully evocative, canopied tunnel in the National Garden.
Some palm fronds dappled by the sporadic light in the gardens.
A small, shaded pool surrounded by giant conifers.


Leaving the gardens we came down a rather grand boulevard on our way towards the Greek parliament which was lined with various national flags denoting the presence of a multitude of foreign embassies and the wish of foreign powers to project their influence to the poor residents of the city and attempt to intimidate (impotently it must be said) the government of a small but influential nation.  Thankfully most Greeks see through this posing, charade of ‘diplomatic’ influence for the shallow sham that it is and realise that most things that affect them are the deals done behind closed doors – as they are for most us –  but it’s more of an affront when it comes in the home of ‘democracy’ (or, at least, the country which gave us the word and the concept, however much it may have been twisted and defiled by those who abused the word in the following millennia).

Anyway, tirade over, we continued on down to Syntagma Square, where the latest in a long line of democracy protests (just in case you’ve forgotten it means ‘rule of the people’) occurred very recently in response to the above-mentioned abuses by the Greek ruling class and their EU collaborators.  Living history was before our very eyes…

The original Greek ‘democracy’ was nothing like our modern concept of the word, but which of our countries can claim to be the ones who represent it now?
Throughout its long history Greece has fought against many foreign invaders. ‘This is Sparta!’ springs to mind, but their monuments quite rightly recall the moments when Greece was great. If you don’t like it tell me the name of a country which doesn’t celebrate its heroes, and Greece has more than most.
Another view of the Greek parliament.

Never let me be accused of forgetting that ancient Greek democracy was nothing of the sort and that they had more slaves than  citizens and that Greece went though a period of fascist dictatorship in the 20th century but, idealist that I am, I still put stock in these ideas first promulgated two and a half millennia earlier, which should be a shining light today and which are ignored by those in power in most countries in the world.  There is still something powerful speaking to us from the ruins of Greece if we want to listen.

Syntagma Square
Syntagma Square

Leaving Syntagma Square we hit one of Athens’ main shopping streets and all thoughts of plebs’ revenge were washed away in a sea of consumerism and ‘designer’ labels which would leave anything in Paris, London or Madrid asking where the recession was.  Street performers were at least doing something to earn a crust but we were quickly back down in the less salubrious areas of the city amid the protests and graffiti.  Going through the ‘flea market’ we quickly found this was a misnomer and it was an excuse for the trendy to exploit the name of an historic area for their own benefit but this didn’t make it a less interesting area. It was fascinating but as visitors who were maybe vaguely politically aware we felt slightly uncomfortable until we found a cheap bar which catered to the locals and didn’t rip off the tourists.  Good on ya ‘Bush Bar!’

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After this we found a restaurant which was frequented by both locals and tourists alike and ate a nice meal under a canopy of vine leaves some of which were bearing grapes.


Under a canopy of grapes we had a nice meal in the middle of Athens but divorced from the chaos of the city.
Hingin' aboot
Some of the grapes above our heads were almost ready to be made into Mrs Mjollnir’s wine.

Having bought a multitude of souvenirs for our various family members back home we were then let loose upon the city streets in a small square where we sat for a while and watched Athens go by.  We were kind of sad that this was the last night of our holiday and I think both of us could’ve done with a less frenetic pace to our travels but we wouldn’t have missed a moment…

1206 1226 1228 1234 Syntagma Square Panorama



21 thoughts on “Balkans Day 15: Athens (part 2)

    1. Didn’t make it this time but I’ve been to Kefalonia and Zante before and Mrs Mjollnir has been in Crete many years ago. Great places although I hear Zante is now like Ibiza but without the charm! Was fine when I was there 30 years ago! Turtle beaches and stuff 😀


    1. Going back home to Glasgow in about six weeks but unless my camera is sober I wouldn’t expect too much from that one! Maybe I could get Mrs M to take a few pics as she pours me into taxi or scoops parts of me out of the very picturesque gutters of the auld hame toon! 😀


        1. I must admit on these trips back home I tend to cram about six months worth of Friday nights and Saturday afternoons into the space of four or five days. I’ve actually got a permanent bed in the Western Infirmary Liver Destruction Unit! Hic! 😀


  1. A builder offered to build me a house on Skiathos for two hundred pounds in 1967 (I think) but I turned it down because I didn’t want to give the colonels my support. I think about it from time to time.


          1. I know exactly what you mean. I would really like to stop evolution. We are stupid enough to destroy our beautiful nature… People think that putting plastic umbrelas in a pure beach is enhancing while they actually kill the scenery!


  2. I agree with your rant but mostly like your comment approximately midway through: the culture of Greece is a powerful voice that shapes the world even today. I hope the people take hope from it and shake off those that need to be … shaken.


    1. The Greek people will always be there and they’ve had their ups and downs over the centuries but they’ll survive. Dunno about Canada but politics in Europe needs a huge revision, a reinvention of trust and reconnection with the people.


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