There was quite a lot of hullabaloo on the news about the demonstrations and riots in Athens while we were there. There was a twenty percent reduction in minimum wage, hopeless statements made about the Euro and the Greek economy, several rocks thrown through windows, and one car set on fire. This is a sad, sad time for Greece.
On our walks around Athens, we saw quite a lot of this forlorn state reflected in the buildings, neighborhoods and shops of the city. Thousands of people slowly marched the main street, their dolorous chanting heard as far away as the Parthenon as they marched in the direction of the Acropolis. It was the only sound breaking the suspended quiet and stillness of the rest of the city.
Yet, for all the grey and grittiness of the main streets and neighborhoods, there were pockets of Athens that seemed to shine in spite of the country's tone. Hidden a half hours walk north east of the base of the Acropolis lies the Gazi neighborhood of Athens. Behind several industrial towers, old gas tanks, and a wall of striking street murals is a row of restaurants that look like they were pulled right of off NE Alberta Street.
With cheery lights, beautifully designed storefronts and interiors, and the few people who were there looking quite happy, it was as if this little neighborhood was had chosen to forget there was a crisis, and just kept trucking along. I hope this is just a peek of what Athens can someday be.