Monday, March 24, 2008

Mushroom Soup Sky...into the Wild

Greece has a reputation for a warm climate and blue sky.  But once a week Athen's sky is not the post-card blue...but looks a lot like cream of mushroom soup.

And there are far too many stray cats here.  On a ten minute walk around the neighbourhood, you may see about twenty cats.  And, it being Spring, many are pregnant.  A month ago, I saw...erm...a gang rape of the cat world.  (she managed to wriggle free eventually, although the males were brutal).

And these cats make hideous wailing sounds in the dark, really loud. It would be kind for an animal rights group to distribute contraceptive pills to all of these cats, disguised in their food. 

There's also a turtle in a park just next door to me, the sight of it gave me a lot of pleasure.  And then there was another in someone's garden just down the road and another and another.  Turtles?!?  In England and Sweden they  may have been in children's petting zoos, but I never saw one.

Friday, March 21, 2008

what an anticlimax!

A disappointing end to the two week strike : Parliament voted last night, and the pension reforms were approved.  

It would be very pleasant to see the MP's collect all the garbage that has gathered on the streets during these two weeks while the local sanitations services were on strike.  

Thursday, March 20, 2008

News Freeze!

Ever watched live basketball without the sports commentators? 

Well, when  journalists go on strike, we watch live sports without commentary.

Another thing to avoid when there is a general strike is deep breathing...after a jog around the park, I was still panting and sucked the rotting garbage scent deep into my lungs.
Some rubbish bins in the area have been emptied...a cruel twist of fate has our closest bins still full and overflowing.  
The parliament will vote tonight and most likely the bill will be passed, despite the mass opposition.  The ruling party is called New Democracy ( passing laws that enrage the public is not a new form of democracy).  

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


In the previous post I complained about the lack of coverage on BBC regarding these ongoing strikes.  Finally today we can read about the strikes in Athens : here

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Censorship and the strikes

The 24 hour strike has commenced, everything is shutdown, you name it : electricity, waste collection, journalism, flights, banks.

For an accurate report on what is happening in Athens now click here

But why does BBC not cover these strikes?...check out and the sorts of articles they have prioritized in the Europe section of the World Service.  Once again I am disappointed by mainstream media.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Faith & Governments

To the left is a photo taken from a pro-war march in America, held by little boys in military dress.  In this banner there is a strong religious message regarding America's war with Vietnam.

The call for a secular society, "division between religion and the state" is certainly vague.  

I am concerned that Turkey's chief prosecutor prepares his case to ban the ruling party, on the grounds that its policies undermine the country's secular Constitution. For more news on this click here.

Religious freedom and democracy ought to be respected.    What can the affects be of banning the democratically elected government?  Does this move give more power to the military?

(that there is so much focus on the issue of headscarves seems misplaced, 
the issue of headscarves is dressed as a feminist issue, but
if politicans and journalists are so concerned with feminism, then there are more pressing matters such as equal wages, extensive and well-paid maternity leave, etc.)

While some journalists continue to discuss the value of separation between religion and state, others point out the hypocrisy - for example - NO separation of state and OIL in the US government...for more information on the relationship between the US government and oil companies please go to

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Pheweee! Strong smells in the dark

The strike continues.  (both the power company and the garbage collectors). ..and although I do support the workers' unions and their action...walking on the streets here in Athens is not so pleasant. 

It's still not as bad as the photo I pasted above, at least the trash is contained in bags.  But every corner stinks of rubbish, and there are unsightly piles of plastic bags filled with waste...
A woman with a loudspeaker walked around the neighbourhood telling us to keep our trash inside the houses.  That was this afternoon, (well we put the garbage out before we heard her, fortunately).
Let's hope this strike accomplishes something!  Karamanlis and his center right party must not go through with the proposed pension reforms, but instead enter into negotiations with the unions.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The electricity first, Now the rubbish

There is another strike, this time with the city waste department.  Which means for us in Athens, our neighbourhoods are full with overflowing rubbish bins.  

Only the second day of the strike and the trash is mounting high, plastic bags full of rubbish on every street corner.
I only hope there are no rats, or at least not too many.

Friday, March 7, 2008

barefoot in the dark

Periods of time in each day when there are no lights, no stove, no internet, no tv, no laundry machine.  It's quite jarring now on the third time around.  They last about 2 hours each time.  And it makes me nervous to put on the washing machine.  So we have no socks :(.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Strike Continues

The electricity company is still on strike today and this will continue until Wednesday.
We woke up to an electrically dead appartment, 
which meant no tea or coffee to wake up to....that was hard have to admit that.
A morning without tea or coffee is like a week without a shower.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Lights Out!!!

A black out on my block!  Well in the middle of listening to a BBC documentary, the electricity cut off.  To tell the truth, I was lolling about anyway, and the black out was a great excuse to continue doing nothing in the late afternoon.
The story is that the electricity company is on strike, and taking out neighbourhood by neighbourhood, little by little of Athens at a time.  Of course I'm not complaining : I fully support those who strike!!

But then the sun went down, and the black out was not funny anymore.  Especially as we were not prepared : no candles, no flashlight.  
Off to the local taverna!  The walk to the taverna was spooky with no street lights...we could not see the other pedestrians' faces.  
We reached the taverna safely and a feast of roast chicken, beer, salad, and chewy bread followed.
The table next to us was filled with fellow victims of the black out.


Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Good neighbours do not build nuclear power plants where the land is prone to earthquakes.  Turkey plans to build a nuclear power plant on the Mediterranean Coast, at the city of Mersin. 
This is a concern for all of us who like to bathe in the warm waters of the Mediterranean and dream of the fantastic beaches of Greece and Turkey.  

Turkey should not proceed with its plans to build nuclear power plants, given their threat to human health and safety.   The plan for nuclear energy is a short term fix to a long term problem and  the potential consequences of nuclear power plants are far too dire to justify its construction.  There are less hazardous alternatives to fossil fuels.  Ok? Greenpeace says it better than me at this link

Monday, March 3, 2008

Star Gazing in Nea Smyrnh

Just another lunch in the local taverna. On entering, I noted the really sexy young guys sitting at the front table...they were wearing sporty clothes including Africans and North Africans. They seemed very different from the normal middle aged and elderly clientelle.

Then having settled into our seats, my partner said, "Aren't they Panionios players?"

After ten more minutes of just plain staring, and finally questioning the waitress, there was no longer a doubt in our minds that they were indeed football celebrities. They were speaking English with each other with a smattering of French. And talking about the long summer days of Finland! They included a French Algerian, a Malian, and a Finnish-Albanian (we realised after google-ing and wiki-ing)
They were also double parked outside the restaurant.

The rest of our lunch was eaten with a certain euphoria! Although my beloved partner didn't think I should stare too long at them!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Flying Saucers!

Waitresses in Athens work too hard : in and out, in and out, walking from the barrista to the customers outside.  Actually they might be really overworked..and this can have its consequences...

Well, today I received a large bang to the back of my head by the waitress's tray.  ouch.  And afterwards, not even a free coffee.  Indeed she even seemed annoyed by me.  
The archetypal waitress is smiling, polite and friendly, but this discounts their low wages, physical exertian, and dealing with customers of all sorts.  Raise the wages, reduce the working hours, and boom - nice friendly service.
Until then, lazy Sundays in cafes with the newspapers will never seem safe.  

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Cafe Ole

Today, a glorious spring day in Athens, on the square of Nea Smyrnh, we found the 2 euro espresso, which beats all of its competitors.  It was found in the Pop Up Cafe on the central square.  Delicious, not bitter at all.  

However the seats hurt the toosh, and some girls broke successive glasses, without blinking an eye (some of their eyes weren't covered by huge sunglasses).  Frequent CD merchants (if you life in Athens or have visited you know that this is just a part of sitting outside).  

A Coffee not a Steak?!?

We pay at least 2.30 euros for a coffee here in Athens.  In Italy, Sweden and in France it was half this price.  Why this difference?  

The EURO! yes, when the currency switched to the euro prices of basic things were suddenly rounded up and multiplied by ten.

Putumayo Cafe

A beautiful interior, elegant and spacious.  The music in the cafe is really good, from Latin America to the Balkans, and the crowd various and pleasant!  

The espresso is extremely bitter though, and of course over-priced.  The elegant waiters have a lot of piercings ...and was that a studded leather belt he wore today??? hmmm.
Its in Nea Smyrnh, just by the Panionios stadium and the central square.  

Athens News!

Here is Athens, Greece...chaotic, packed with cars and angry drivers, where pedestrians are almost an extinct species...but beautiful blue sky and strong sun.  

On Fridays, it has become a routine to trot down to my kiosk and buy the latest edition of Athens News!   This is the weekly newspaper that has national and international news, upcoming events, recipes, suduku, crosswords, and more!  It focuses more on environmental and immigration issues.