Thursday, December 08, 2005

Athens is cheerful?

Well, it is no secret to anyone who has read this blog that of all the places I have lived in Greece, I hated Athens the most, and would rather get sucked through the eye of a sewing needle, then chewed up by an alligator and spit out on an elephant's turd than live there again. So I was quite surprised to see that the average tourist finds Athens to be a joyful burg, full of friendliness and good cheer.

Normal day to day people in Athens are not really friendly. I sort of compare their attitudes to the lackluster spirit of daywalkers in the American North, all too busy going about their lives to give a smile to a stranger. On Kos, in Litochoro, and here in Thessaloniki people are much friendlier overall. In Athens people are rude, crude, and dangerous to know. They will push you out of their way on the sidewalk. They will cut in front of you in line (or rather, the semi, half-assed lines Greeks make). It is a city that is literally bursting at the seams, and it shows in the attitude of their citizens.

Now I am sure the tourist, however, meets the friendly people they are paying money to at the hotel, and then the friendly people they are paying money to at the taverna, and then the friendly people they are paying money to at the tourist crap shops. And don't forget the friendly people at the Acropolis and museums. But try living in Athens for a couple of months and then tell me how friendly you think the city is.

At least they noticed how dirty it is. Noone can ignore that. They used to say that the stone at Delphi was the belly button of the world, well, Athens has all the belly button lint. Thank god my husband is from Thessaloniki, or I'd be moving back to America lock, stock and barrel.

7 comments:

sappho said...

Ok, I have to tell you about the time my girlfriend & I were accosted by a gypsy selling lace thingy's for the table in Athens...
When approached by her we politely said "no thank you". Well, that wasn't good enough I guess. She followed us down the entire road from the Acropolis (hella long!), screaming at us the whole way! She went to grab my arm, & that's where I drew the line. Since she spoke English & seemed to understand it just fine, I told her to take her lace thing and hang herself with it! She followed me, shaking her finger at me & screamed, "I am not a murderer!"
What the hell was that about?!
I never called her a murderer, but o.k.!
And what's with the men in Athens being THE most lazy sons-of-bitches on the planet! My bag was reaal heavy, so I asked the taxi driver for help & he said "no', that he didn't do bags!
So I understand your opinion of Athens, although I would go back in a heartbeat..but more likely to Mykonos or Santorini, or to visit relatives in Corfu.

adfjkaj said...

Mel,

Since I live in Athens, I agree with you on most accounts. Maybe you just get used to it here.

If you think Athens is "belly button" lint, then go to Larissa, that's sort of like Bakersfield. "The Armpit of Greece", as Bakersfield is known as the "Armpit of California".

Sappho, unfortunately, although technically taxi drivers are supposed to help you with your bags, they generally don't. Read my story on my blog about Greek taxi drivers for their other positive qualities.

The SeaWitch said...

Athens has all the belly button lint

LOL!! I love it! I read the first two paragraphs and was about to go straight to the comments section to post that tourists only meet friendly people because their money ends up in someone hotelier's/taverna owner's/driver's pocket only to see that you covered that in your 3rd paragraph. LOL I think I'm going to use your "lint" analogy...it sounds much better than my "athens is the dot over the letter 'i' in the word 'shit'.

Athens is not Greece. "Greece" is found in all the little villages and hamlets outside the city limits. I love Greece outside Athens. If tourists only visit Plaka, the Acropolis and Sounio, I can understand why they might think it's a cheerful place. My parents and two sisters have all visited me in Athens and they all hated it. In fact, my younger sister hated it so much the first time around that when she came back again in August, she skipped "me" entirely and hopped off to Syfnos for her vacation. My father lasted 6 hours before he said "That's it. I'm going to spend the month in Xylocastro where I'll be able to breathe." Which is what he did. My father loved the Peloponessos and decided that Nafplio was the place for him.

Thanos said...

Lock, Stock and Barrel being our three cats ;p

wandering-woman said...

Hey now, I used to be one of those daywalkers in "The American North" as you´ve named it....C'mon, no friendlier than Athens???

just where did you draw the line for the start of that cold American North, may I ask?
:-)

melusina said...

Sappho, I think your visit was pretty typical of Athens. And lazy, ha! We bought a 29-inch TV and the assholes who delivered it (at a charge of 30 euros) wouldn't even bring it up on the elevator to the second floor!

I just thank god every day that Thessaloniki is so much better. It would be bad if I hated my husband's beloved hometown. I really don't understand how some Greeks PREFER Athens.

wandering-woman, I am talking mainly of the Northeast, actually. People aren't as friendly up there (I know this, I was one of them) as they are in the South. Of course, Southerners are "fake" friendly, which really isn't much better. But geez, they don't push you out of the way to get down the street.

Infindecimal slice said...

I am from Thessaloniki, and of course i love my home city, but you must not forget Athens is huge, there are many different areas there and some of them are quite nice. Also the reduced humidity there is a significant asset.