Sunday, October 23, 2011

athens - city of wisdom, beauty... and sausage the riot dog

since i moved to athens at 19 i've had a love/hate relationship with greece....


....but it's mostly love.

like any country, greece has its share of problems. when i was there this summer riots were going on in athens. just this past week violence erupted once again.

the greeks are very angry about the austerity measures imposed on them by the government - they accuse political leaders of strip mining government funds over the years to build their own luxury homes and line their own pockets. the situation is very dire here - friends of mine haven't been paid in months and have had to take on other jobs - sometimes two in addition to their main job, to support their families. 

during my stay in greece the airport shut down, the taxis went on strike, the ferry workers went on strike. last week they shut down the acropolis. people are really pissed off. on a taxi ride to the port, our driver blamed america, and then israel. i suggested he vote out the corrupt politicians and elect someone he could believe in. he laughed, saying that he hadn't voted in years and wasn't about to start. i was alarmed by his apathy. it's difficult to understand a government that is not able to enforce the collection of taxes. it's just as difficult to understand how corrupt individuals in government can get away with crimes without being held accountable for their actions. for now, the situation is imploding, and lasting change will have to happen from the inside out. 

this summer we drove through the main square of athens the day after the rioting. i took some photos of what we saw

city and community we have war (followed by the anarchist sign)

seeking freedom fighting all authority



protestors had set up a tent city in athens' downtown square


whenever the crowds gather to riot, a white dog - whom the greeks called 'sausage' 

shows up and barks at the riot police

this isn't him, but we kept a look out for him all over town...

the police did not like me taking their picture 

it was my son's first trip to greece, so in spite of the unrest we managed to see the sights....

as did a surprising amount of others

we visited the new acropolis museum, which is built on top of archaeological remains

covered in glass so you can walk directly overhead 


gotta eat. my son's favorite meal

he said he wants to open up a gyro stand in his dorm room 


taking in the view from a favorite perch above the city






i will always love this city and this country. i hope - sometime very soon - that it will resolve its problems. greece deserves - and needs to reclaim - the integrity and quality of leadership that is possible and can be expected from a people who gave birth to democracy.










in the mean time, i am lighting a candle for a country where the light - literally and figuratively - is like no where else on earth...



Photos of sausage the riot dog from Reuters and Tumblr

31 comments:

  1. it's a pity, all that's going on. but in truth, i do not think it is solely the politicians fault. Corruption never exists just at the top. it pervades the whole system. also countries like Greece have a lot of social benefits that the country can ill afford, especially when a lot of people try to evade tax. It is a common problem throughout the Mediterranean and sometimes I wonder if it will happen here too. A scary thought...

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  2. Glad you enjoyed the trip in spite of the chaos. There's SO much unrest in the world...and scams everywhere, as you just commented on my post about how I almost got scammed. We just have to be vigilant at all times, even in our own homes!

    Thanks for stopping by. I always like to come over and visit you, too. Your photographs are always so good/so interesting!
    Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror, A Memoir of Shattered Secrets

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  3. oh yes, remember that summer only too good. it will remain to history to judge, which measures where good or not; and yes, people are worried, at least those I know, about 'what to do without money'.
    please have you all a good new week ahead.

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  4. Your words truly show your love for this country despite its recent problems. Also nice to see that you and your son were able to spend some time together.

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  5. amanda, i am so glad to know you. that is my first thought reading this post.

    what frustration and sadness. it is hard to fathom how a country can fall into scarcity like this. i can understand easily how your heart hurts from it.

    your son is handsome. there is kindness on both your faces. :^)

    love
    kj

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  6. So much unrest going on all over the world - so much "rich" vs poor; so much unjustice and unfairness everywhere. it's not one answer is it? I hope along with you for Greece and it's people.

    and the pictures of you and your son are wonderful -

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  7. The apathy of some combined with their outrage is outstanding. And frustrating!
    But it's great that you got to show your son your Greece, and still have a wonderful time :-)

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  8. If that's you by your son you don't look much older!

    What an interesting - and sad - blog about such an historically rich country. If what you say is the suspected truth about the Greek politicians, can you expect their people whom they're in office to represent NOT to mutiny? After all, it isn't a monarchy.

    Of course, all in the EU are burdened by a country sliding downhill through political corruption. And I believe that, more and more, we should be listening to the more positive messages of our northern Norwegian cousins. Simply said - and done - if a community works together all profit rather than suffer.

    I believe riots are a wakeup call, don't you?

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  9. Athens is my favourity city and I cannot look at what it is happening there, I do not mean that the people are angry but I cannot look how the city is slowly being destroyed, a lot of grafitty, a lot of dirt and a lot of destruction:((( Out of this Greece won't make money:(

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  10. ps. Luckly I was this summer twice in Athens and despite the strikes, the communication and the airport + Pireus worked

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  11. These are not easy times for many. I do hope long term solutions are reached soon. Loved the picture of you and your son.

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  12. Dear Amanda, living in Europe, we all worry about Greece and have the same feelings about the country as you do.;) Your images are very evocative and very strong, conveying the state of the country in such a vivid way.
    Your son btw is very handsome and looks so much like you.;)
    Thank you for your always kind and poignant words and your endlessly interesting comments at my place.;) I have been off line for over a week, thus am trying to catch up.;)
    xoxo

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  13. Amanda, as always, I have been overwhelmed by the density and substance of your post. It is like a kind, brusque woman who grabs me by the shoulders and shakes the complacency and deadness out like dust from a sack of inert potatoes.

    (Also, the gyro pic made my mouth water.)

    Listened to Kate Bush's 'The Red Shoes as I sojourned through this post. Feel it added to the experience.

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  14. modern day Greece - still making history eh. this was fascinating from both contexts - modern life and issues layered over so much history; and its a history we all share. where to from here? interesting times.
    wonderful photo of you and your giant son xx

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  15. Poor Greece. The Greeks will not pay their taxes whenever they can get away with it. Yet they want to keep the candies without paying them.
    The politicians are corrupt there as they are in most countries but that does not excuse the apathy and crookedness of the population.
    Let's hope everybody will pull their act together and get the country back on track before it crashes not only the Eurozone but us also.
    My Greek blood curdles.

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  16. i like that the dog always shows up, although i wish it weren't for the riots.
    i must admit though, it was hard to stay focused on the topic here while admiring these beautiful mother son photos.
    :)

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  17. It is a terrible time for Greece...we are all worried....glad to see some tourists stimulating the economy...your son looks like a sweetie....how fun for you to holiday with him....but now I'm hungry!

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  18. loree - a lot of folks would agree with you on this. paying taxes is never fun but it's necessary for a fully functioning government. you have to wonder when the greeks thought the other shoe would drop.

    ann - thanks ~ even when rioting isn't going on greece can be a chaotic country - but in a good way.

    robert - some people may say it won't take that long to figure out how this situation unraveled..

    farmchick - in spite of its troubles, it's always possible to enjoy the beauty of this place~

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  19. thanks dear kj - it was a happy trip to take with my boy.

    it's lovely to know you too♡

    mim - you're right - there's trouble everywhere - at least greece isn't trying to get rid of a dictator.

    sara - i wonder what the french think of greece's troubles?

    shers - hey thanks! that's the nicest thing i've heard all week ;-)

    regarding your comment about norway's government - i would love to know more. i've heard a lot of positive things about danish society - but yes, greece is going to have to learn to work together to solve their problems. hopefully this will be the beginning of a new era of working in unison and electing leaders who will create a government of integrity.

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  20. ola - lucky you to have traveled twice to greece this year! oh to be so close... was one of those trips where you took those amazing shots of lesbos?

    yes - the pollution in athens is upsetting. but it's been that way since i lived there - i hope it's getting better, not worse, but i don't know...

    rosaria - i hope so too~

    zuzana - as i told sara - i am curious as to how the rest of europe views greece.

    thank you for your kind words about my son♡

    suze - a sack of inert potatoes?!! that's as good a description of complacency as i've ever heard ;-) (and been there a lot myself lately)

    yup - that gyro. oh i dream about them myself - just can't get 'em like that here~

    now i'm off to look up the red shoes...

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  21. val - yeah - greece making history in modern times for sure. wish it were better news tho -

    (hehe - my giant son! i think i was standing in a hole - he does seem to tower over me!)

    paul - oh your greek blood is curdling - when people don't pay taxes they are partly responsible for what happens to their government. i hope the lesson that comes out of this is that the greeks will start to work together towards a common goal and see that responsibility for a government of integrity begins with its people.

    lori - thanks, that was really sweet ♡

    and yes - that's one of the many things i love about the greeks - they have these serious economic troubles, but they treat these stray dogs so well. a people with a heart.

    sue - even though we saw many tourists, everywhere we went we were told (by restaurant owners, hotel owners) that tourism was really down. i hope it picks up, because it's one of greece's main sources of revenue.

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  22. Wow ..what a powerful post...thanks for sharing such an insightful look at what is happening. Such sweet dogs in your photos too!Such super- lovely photos of you as well..wonderful!

    Shine on kindred
    Victoria

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  23. The poor Greeks. Going through such difficult times. Some may not vote, but they apparently take their politics quite seriously.
    As for your observation, "it's . . . difficult to understand how corrupt individuals in government can get away with crimes without being held accountable for their actions," one could say that about the US, and Canada, too.

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  24. I love the photos of you and your son! I'm sad to hear about the turmoil over there. Seems like it's spreading all over. But I'm glad your son got to see the beauty of Greece in person!

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  25. victoria - the greeks love their dogs!

    r-bear - you're right - people in our governments have gotten away with doing stuff that's not right. but if someone in the u.s. government stole 60 million euros (as some greeks say their gov't officials have done) to build their own luxury vacation homes, you can bet the media would be on that story like you know what. their government may be lacking a whistleblower, but where are greece's investigative journalists?

    julie - it was in interesting time to be visiting - i was grateful to have the opportunity to introduce my son to this beautiful place.

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  26. My husband and I always say how lucky we are in the US...we seem to have peace (on our own land anyways) so we don't see the ugly stuff. I hope you have peace soon in Greece...what a beautiful place. Hope you get to see your son again soon...I just got to see my oldest last week. What would we do without family and friends?

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  27. A scary thought for many other countries especially the small ones, (like Greece) which can be manipulated easily by others... It goes however without saying that Greece needs disparately a lot of changes and a dramatic new way of thinking... by all parties concerned.
    Stunning pictures. Your son Amanda is as handsome as you and of course a smart guy!!

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  28. I have had Greece on my mind, thinking about the wonderful time I had in Athens, Santorini, and Crete. Your post is balanced with the mix of chaos in the streets and the special summer of mother/son bonding in a magical place with overwhelming historical significance.

    Bises,
    Genie

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  29. Delphia mou ~ Whenever in Greece you can count on a strike or a demonstration...just expect it right?

    Seems there is an undercurrent of anti-German sentiment stirred up by Germany's bail-out power and god knows blood feuds continue.

    I love the Greek people for their love of life and living close to nature, yet doesn't it seem the men spend a lot of time kavetching in the kafenions? Again, the women do all the work and it is a given that the government is corrupt. Wonder if an official "Occupy Athens" is coming anytime soon?

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  30. When I look at the news I only really catch a glimpse of what must really be going on there...and when I read and see it all on your blog,it brings it all home and it is scary.
    I am thankful that your son has you there for I cant imagine him visiting Greece with out you there.I too am amazed at so many go through the tourist sites...even though with so much going on..I dont think I would ever be able to leave that museum..Wow love that floor.Big Hugs friend,stay safe and I am sending big big hugs and prayers for you and for Greece.Cat

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  31. Your post is so powerful, Amanda. Thank you for continuing to shine light on this beautiful country.

    Your last few sentences say it all. Greece NEEDS to protect its treasures and its history. My stomach still turns as I recall the atrocities committed in Egypt during the recent riots there.

    I pray that the same thing does not happen in Greece, and indeed, spread, as these things do, to our own shores.

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