This Is The Beginning…
Throughout April, May and some of June, I will be travelling through Europe. My camera and I trying to capture as much as I possibly can. At this stage of proceedings I will be in Athens, Berlin, Prague and Budapest before returning back to Greece for my final two weeks to spend with my father before we return home.
I have created a Tumblr blog which will document more. If you would like to check it out, it can be reached via this link: Solitary Wanderlust.
Athens Part 1
Fear And Loathing In Athens
First day in Athens and anxiety took hold. I wasn’t liking this city at all
Strip away your every day surroundings and routine and you suddenly feel somewhat exposed. Having just spent my first day in Athens so very far away from home – the routines that tie us down to what we each know as normality are nowhere to be found.
Of course this is a good thing but it also brings all your insecurities to the fore.
Those closest to me will know more about them than the casual reader or Facebook ‘friend’ but I do suffer from incredibly low self-esteem and am prone to late night panic attacks that creep up and take hold of me in the foulest of AM time slots.
My 80-year-old father has accompanied me on this first leg of my ‘Europe World Tour’. He was set to come to Greece to come and settle some of my deceased mother’s affairs. They have some property scattered throughout the south of Greece and dad is wanting to sell these. As the economy here at present is shot to hell, we aren’t expecting anything too fancy.
Now for an 80-year-old, the old bastard is in pretty good nick. But those 80 years do begin to take their toll. His eyesight is not what is used to be, or should be, so there was no chance he could do this trip alone.
“I’ll take you!” Was my quick response a couple of years ago when this trip for first muted.
He is staying with me for a few days here in Athens and then will be heading way South to be with his past family who he hasn’t seen since the early 2000’s when he was last here.
And the AM panic attacks kicked in hard last night… who’s going to look after him? Is he going to be ok? Am I able to talk to him on the phone when I want to? Has he learnt how to use an iPhone proper yet? Will he remember to charge his phone every night? Will he remember to take his medicine?
And later on in the night I began panicking about the tiny lift that is in this building. What if I get stuck? How do I get out? Will I be able to breathe in there? Who will hear me panicking in there crying for help? Fuck it, I am not using it. I will walk the 5 flights of stairs! No, I am being silly. I will use it and not worry. Yeah? But what if it does get stuck.
And on and on and on and on it goes.
I began panicking about the return flights to Melbourne which are freaking more than 2 months away.
This is the battle. The every day battle that most don’t know about. Fighting within yourself. It is a horrible place to be.
Some Rock Star Photographer I am huh?
I was actually feeling depressed about even being here. The dream I have always wanted to photograph and travel the world, I was hating it within 5 hours of landing(!)
But I am not going to let me beat me.
I got up and wrote a little mantra to myself so that when the self-doubt and loathing began to kick in, I would read this to myself and arrest this depression and fear head on.
This is a trip of a lifetime
This is my dream
I am here to enjoy myself
I am here to grow
All obstacles will be overtaken
Positive force will defeat all
Stay smart, happy but always alert
There is nothing to fear
I am feeling a lot better about this trip this morning. In fact, I am excited about what lies ahead and determined to make this trip an adventure that shall never be forgotten.
Athens Part 2 – Port Piraeus
Port Piraeus Train Station
I decided to take the train down south from the city of Athens to Port Piraeus. For one, I wanted to experience the Port and I also wanted to begin to familiarise myself with the country’s public transportation system.
Travelling via public transport was certainly an eye-opener. And if you want to do some people watching, then this is one way to achieve that!
At one stop three gypsy types got on the train. Was was playing an accordion, the there a trumpet and the third was a 10 or 11 girl who went round the carriage to collect any money that was on offer.
It was a shame no on did contribute anything as their song and performance was pretty special.
The Piraeus train station was very gorgeous and I began photographing her almost straight away before seeing the ‘NO PHOTOGRAPHY’ signage everywhere.
The minute you walk out of the station you are inundated and overcome by the amount of street vendors along the streets. There are beggars everywhere, even one carrying a C-Pap Machine saying the oxygen was for him to stay alive and feed his young family. I can’t recall what exactly he was selling, but it was nothing but a trashy gadget of some sort.
And then you get the ‘sun-glasses’ salesman harasses you to the point of anger on your part to be left alone.
There was plenty of armed security at the port and this was the first time I had seen any sort of authority on the streets of Athens. Otherwise, it really feels like a lawless town.
People drive wherever the want. The park and double park anywhere they want. Speeding cars. Constant near misses. Cars going the wrong way on a One-Way-Street, No helmets for motorcyclists etc etc etc
Athens Part 3 – Monastiraki Square & The Acropolis
Now if you are a Star Wars buff or not, you are more likely than not to to be familiar with Mos Eisley. Described by Obi Wan Kenobi as a “wretched hive of scum and villainy” – and this was my exact same thought as I hit Monastiraki Square today.
Just standing back and watching all that unfolds before you is an absolute shock to the sensors. The minute you step off the train and ascend to street level, what lies before you is a mass of people from every single corner of the world, all here. All before you.
The crippled beggar who begins to shake uncontrollably as yet another American tourist walks past. Hands held out for any loose change or even eye contact. The buskers, both good and bad blasting their instruments or voice in your general direction. Cars, bikes, vans, trucks, buses, emergency vehicles pour around the corner. Everyone of them beeping at who-the-fuck-knows-what. It is all an absolute jolt to the senses and yet, you still have not set foot into Monastiraki Square,
The minute I did, I was besieged by 3 Jamaicans. One ties a token bracelet around my hand ‘for free’ – but as I walk away he pleads for any donation from ‘my heart’ because he and his troop are collecting money to buy instruments. Yeah man, like I’m going to fall for that one. I told him I had nothing to give right now, but after I get some lunch and some change, I’ll be back.
I don’t think he really thought I would return but I stuck to my word and returned with some coins. I think I blew him away because for the rest of the day I would encounter him, he would cry out “That’s my man! That is MY man!”
Ok… as most of you know, I am heavily tattooed. Today was the first day I ventured out with tatts exposed. Unlike home where every man and his dog is covered with ink, it is not the same here.
Several people commented on my ink. Some directly to me, some quietly in Greek not knowing I could understand every word they were saying! 😉
I headed straight for the flea market which is one of the popular attractions of Monastiraki Square. I could see why! It was incredible. Like nothing I have seen before and highly populated by tourists from the world over. It was insanity.
At the same time, I felt a little fearful of pick-pockets and criminal activity. At one point, I did feel a hand try and grab my Apple Watch so I played it smart and kept all my valuables, phone and wallet locked tight in my bag which was drawn in front of me and held onto tight.
After some time in the square, I began the trek up the Acropolis to get to the Parthenon. Trust me, it is a steep as hell climb and if you are not even remotely fit, it will get you! But as you climb the more and more you begin to see to the point of when you reach the zenith, ALL of Athens is right there before you in glorious 360 degree views. It is sight to behold and absorb. There were many times where I felt I was on top of the world.
The entry fee to get to the Parthenon is 20 Euro. It seemed a little expensive but the minute you lay eyes on her, the minute you see her right there in front of you, 20 Euro does not seem like anything.
I stood in front of the Parthenon and opened my arms as if to take it all in. This is an icon of humanity that I have only ever seen in pictures… so to be standing there was as surreal a moment as I have ever experienced in my life.
I spent a bit of time here today. Who knows when one will ever return so I took as much as I could before heading back down to the square.
I still have some time left in Athens so I may return to Monastiraki Square again for some more photography.
Athens Part 4 – Poverty
The Professional Beggar
If you think the city of Melbourne has a problem with homeless and beggars, you ain’t seen nothing like the overwhelming situation of destitute here in Athens.
Wherever I have gone they are strategically outside supermarkets, tourist attractions, within each and every train carriage. Everywhere.
The ones in the trains seem to visit carriage after carriage with the same old spiel. I can almost recite it word for word I have heard it often enough and I have only been here under a week.
Sometimes it is hard to just ignore them and I have scattered some loose change amongst a couple of the elder ones I have seen.
Today on my way to the Acropolis Museum, I spotted this little lady doing the usual spiel. I asked her if I could take her picture and I would give her 1Euro. She agreed and herewith is the resultant photo.
I am not sure what the Greek Government’s view is on the homeless beggars but as already stated, they are everywhere you turn.
Athens Part 5 – Here, Right Now!
I spent a lot of today doing some serious people watching. The more I looked the more the lines began to blur and a realisation came over me that we are all so similar. No matter where we are, people were out getting some sun and enjoying the day. It is no different here in Greece today at Syntagma Square than it is in the Bourke Street Mall in Melbourne.
Teenagers walking along with the iDevices. Tourists snapping away at anything that moves. Buskers entertaining the crowds. Pick pockets claiming another victim. The coffee houses doing a roaring trade. A thriving metropolis in full swing under the calm peaceful sun whilst her inhabitants were out and about and doing their own thing.
I took some chances today and those seedy little arcades and alleys that I have been safely avoiding, well, I decided to pay them a visit.
Evidence of the recent economic crisis in Greece is right there before you wherever you turn. So many shop fronts lay vacant and destitute. So many signs almost pleading for new tenants adorn all these shop windows.
What must have been a thriving arcade once, now lays dormant with nothing but stray cats and dogs as their only commuter. Well, cats and dogs and curious photographers from a land far away.
There are so many tourists present, myself included. Surely this tourism is a lifeline to a country that needs serious economic change. As I walk down the hill from Syntagma Square (a stunningly beautiful part of Athens I can assure you) I can hear so many different languages completely surround me. English, Italian, Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Chinese all mixed in the cacophony of sound as if I was trawling the very Tower Of Babel in biblical times.
I can feel an awakening happen within me and I have barely been to Europe for a week with many more cities yet to explore. An awakening and an understanding of so many aspects of the human condition – both good and bad that happen each and every day in all the differing cultures of the world.
At the end of the day, we’re all chasing the same thing… a smile on our face and a feeling of contentment. That is all that we seek. No matter who or where we are.
Athens Part 6 – Refugees Welcome
We’ve all seen the refugee crisis that is pretty much affecting the entire planet.
In Australia, we don’t get to see the face of this crisis as most are shipped off and hidden away from sight at Manus Island.
Whilst in the South Eastern tip of Greece this afternoon, I saw the face and faces of the crisis first hand.
In the town of Lavrio I noticed an old building complex that was open, unlocked and protected by no guards. It was a camp for Syrian refugees. I am kicking myself hard for not walking inside the complex, introducing myself and getting some real photos of these people.
I didn’t know how they would react to a camera being shoved in their faces.
I stood there, momentarily, and just took it all in. Here is Greece. A country in the midst of its own vicious economic crisis, but at the same time, still welcoming in refugees and giving them dignity and housing to call their own.
I didn’t photograph those faces… but I can assure you, I won’t ever forget them.
Athens Part 7 – Off To Market
The friendly butcher
As a very regular visitor of the Queen Victoria and South Melbourne markets back at home, I wanted to see how the other side of the world does it so I planned to get down and dirty with the Greek version of the market.
I had a feeling I knew where it was so I just set out on foot to find it. Point me in the right direction and I’ll just explore whatever I encounter until I finally get to my ultimate destination.
As a street photographer in an entirely new (and sometimes scary) environment it pays to play it smart. What I usually do is have the camera hidden from sight within my bag and just walk the street looking for potential shots and planning the camera settings within my head.
Once I have a feel for the place and examined what is around me 360 degrees, I’l pull the camera out and get my shots. You’d be a total fool to be doing this with big headphones on where you can’t hear what is going on around you. In a city such as this, it pays to have ALL senses working overtime to protect you and your gear.
I have also found that when my tattoos are exposed, I am generally left alone more often than when I am covered. As stated before, tattoos are no where near prevalent as they are on home soil I can assure you.
It wasn’t too hard finding the market, I think I smelt it from a block away. It reeked of death and animal carcass from the get-go. Unlike the Vic Market which is so organised and neat, this was a bloodbath free-for-all. The shop attendants stand outside their little booths trying to sell their produce. They all wear white coats which are liberally covered in animal blood and they all pull the hard-sell on you as you walk through.
It was pretty intense and at times a little off-putting as the smell is overbearing and no part of the animal is spared. When you see a pig’s head staring back at you next to pork chops, you kinda lose your appetite!
Most of the attendants demanded you pay them if you wanted to take their picture (yeah right mate!) but the fellow in this pic happily obliged and posed for the shot. He wanted to flash the peace sign, I let him do what he wanted.
Athens Part 8 – A Slice Of Life
There can be no denying that the city of Athens is an incredible city. Having spent the past week and a bit trying to experience as much as I possibly can from the streets and ground level of this town, I can honestly say, that it isn’t a city I would like to live in. It isn’t for me. Perhaps more seasoned travellers can find reason to love this city more but for mine the cons far outweigh the pros.
Its ancient history does weave a touch of magic over the place. Standing before marvellous ruins that date back thousands of years is quite an uplifting experience. You can never take that away from Athens. But amongst the scattered beauty and history, the levels of poverty are quite astounding if not overwhelming.
Wherever you go you will be accosted for a donation. Sure, that is the same in most cities these days, but here it bludgeons you to absolute surrender where you give in and do contribute to beggars (professional or not).
I see the same people everyday. On the same corner. On the same street. In the same spot. Asking. Pleading. Demanding.
At the same time, it is a city of complete and utter lawlessness. I have seen not a single police officer or law presence in close to ten days. Hey, that can be a good thing but at the same time, police can be a symbol of control and/or peace. Nowhere to be seen here.
The roads are flooded with cars and motorbikes. Not a single free space anywhere. If they are not in constant motion, they are parked almost on top of each other. Beat up old cars that have been utterly destroyed by the sun are plentiful. All the cars and bikes are dented beyond recognition. And the fact that 95% of all riders do not wear any protective gear or helmets, I wonder what the road toll is?
Public transport seems to operate very efficiently however. I have yet to encounter a late train. They may be dirty and overcrowded and devoid of any air conditioning, but they are always on time. I have taken many train rides over the past 10 days or so, no one has checked my ticket at any destination. Not a once.
Granted, I am seeing this town alone and I have not ventured out at night by myself. Maybe if I had a traveling partner and the safety net of company would make me see things differently. I don’t know.
I have taken some chances and explored areas that maybe I should not have entered which ultimately leave me feeling very uncomfortable about the place.
Just yesterday I decided to get off a stop earlier and ended up on the wrong side of the tracks quite literally. I needed a footbridge to get me to the other side, but they were all under disrepair and closed. (Like most of the city, disrepair and closed!)
So I proceeded to walk amongst an area full of gypsies and foreigners of some sort. I could feel their eyes all over me but with shades on and head down I kept walking to my ultimate destination.
Ahead of me, an old man was scrounging through an overflowed rubbish bin. Muttering to himself, I have no idea what he was after.
A younger man approached the garbage and threw some bags in there. The old man went ballistic and began screaming… “This is my stuff! This is my stuff!!!” Before the other man could even release his garbage bags, the old man pounced on him and hit him hard.
This is happening just feet away from me and looked like getting ugly incredibly fast.
A bit of push and shove and the scene ultimately subsided.
Confronting, yes. But confrontation and fighting over literally nothing seems to be par for the course around here.
With only a few days remaining in Athens, I am very curious to see what the other cities on my itinerary have to offer. I will continue to explore both the beautiful and ugly of each town I visit and I will continue to try and capture as much of it as I possibly can with my camera and with my mind.
Athens Part 9 – These Boots Were Made For Walking
And yet over the last 48 hours, that is the absolute last thing I have done. Trust me, it was no my intention to travel to the other side of the world and to then find myself incapacitated and unable to walk. I’ve hurt my ankle and whilst it hurt a lot yesterday, today I could barely put any weight on it at all.
It isn’t a new injury. I have had the same thing happen before after prolonged periods of walking but today it hurt like hell.
I have spent the first 8 days in Athens walking close to 10kms per day. Walking, exploring, photographing. But yesterday and today, I have felt like a prisoner in my apartment, unable to go anywhere.
Today things got a little desperate. I had run out of food! So like it or not, I had to trek about a kilometre away to get some supplies. At first, it wasn’t looking good so I iced my ankle for about an hour and swallowed two paracetamol in the hope they could act like pain-killers (yeah right) or have some sort of placebo affect and dull the pain even if just a little.
Strapping my ankle tight and putting them into my walking shoes seemed to do the trick. There was a lot of hobbling and I was beginning to look like one of those beggars I see everyday but I made it and got enough supplies to last me till Sunday when I leave Athens.
The ankle is feeling better right now. I think with the two days rest it has received and regular ice block treatments, I should be back to about 75% capacity tomorrow.
I need to be too as I have to find an Internet cafe to print out some boarding passes. Ryanair, God bless ‘em, don’t support passes on one’s iPhone and are demanding printed passes. Great. I have no printer here but I tracked down an Internet cafe that is willing to help.
So, cooped up in an Athens penthouse for 2 days what does one do? Well, I wrote a lot. (A LOT!) And, I finally managed to catch up on ‘Better Call Saul’ – watching season 2 in its entirety. I love you Netflix!
So as the sun sets here in Athens and the dulcet tones of the Mulholland Drive soundtrack blissfully fill the evening sky, I am hopeful tomorrow I will come back to you with more photos of my daily travels.
Athens Part 10 – Momentary Lapse Of Reason
After two days of what felt like solitary confinement, it was damn good to be able to walk again and go out and do what needed to be done. Namely, print out a slew of boarding passes for the remaining European leg of my holiday. I sought out and found an Internet cafe that wasn’t too far away as I didn’t want to put unnecessary stress on my sore ankle and aggravate the injury which was only now just healing.
I walked up a hill in the suburb of Biktoria to get to the cafe and it was here that I realised that maybe one more day of rest would have been wise. Anyway, I was almost at my destination and I wanted to get the boarding passes sorted.
The Internet cafe was full of young adults all engrossed in their video games. The entire cafe was filled with cigarette smoke from top to bottom which certainly made for an uncomfortable and unhealthy environment.
I fully realised they would not be Mac friendly at all so I formatted my USB into an appropriated Windows format and loaded it with PDF versions of my passes.
Of course, the Windows machines could not read the stick so I was left to come up with another alternative.
So after staring into a shitty Windows terminal wondering how to get access to my files… it hit me. Like a ton of bricks! Hello? Internet cafe! Internet! Login to the Ryanair website and print out passes directly from the site! DOH!
A n y w a y.
Mission accomplished. I paid for the print outs and then wanted to explore a little more of this area but my foot was beginning to trouble me and I decided to make my way back to my apartment.
I was glad to be out and about, albeit a little brief, because over the past 48 hours, I was going stir crazy!
Three more nights in Athens are all that remain.
Athens Part 11 – All Good Things…
Tonight is my second last night in Athens. I’m kinda glad it is as I have seen and captured enough of here.
I think spending the first two weeks here was a wise move in that it helped me acclimatise and prepare myself for being away from home and adjusting to a whole new world. A WHOLE NEW WORLD!!!
I am feeling a helluva lot more confident and comfortable about being away from my usual surrounds and ready to tackle the rest of Europe head on.
On Sunday, I leave for Argos to catch up with dad for a few days. I’ve missed the old fella and I am keen to see him again and for him to show me around where he grew up. That, I am really looking forward to.
I will be back in Athens briefly over the next weekend before heading off to Berlin. I hope to explore as much of Berlin as I possibly can although I only have four nights there with eight nights in Prague and a week in Budapest to follow.
I will hit those streets hard as I am right in the centre of those capital cities with a lot planned to capture on my camera.
To my gracious AirBNB hosts, Giannis and Rena, the penthouse was more than I could have imagined and I will be recommending it to all and sundry who want to visit this city. Superb accomodation and fantastic location.
Argos, Karya Part 1 – Relics
My parent’s wedding photo… waiting to be found
I asked dad if he could show me the house he was literally born and raised in. It was only 50 meters away from where we are staying. The house is now abandoned and dilapidated but I wanted to see it to see if it triggered any memories of when I last saw it when I was four. Inside an old cupboard I found this photo… it is of my mum and dad’s wedding. Looking at it – and seeing mum’s face made me emotional. This photo must have been in this house since the sixties. As old and battered as it is, I asked if I could have it. I will frame it as is. Weather worn, aged and dirty. Every speck of dirt and dust must have a story of time and an influence of all who have been here over the last 50 years. Mum, you’re coming home with me…
The house my father spent the first 25 years of his life in. The house is now abandoned.
The room where my dad and all his siblings slept in.
An old radio was probably the only source of entertainment and link to the outside world they had.
Argos, Karya Part 2 – The Village
The last 48 hours have been a little on the crazy side. Which probably explains the lack of updates and photos which judging by the response I have been getting, have been rather popular.
Yesterday morning I caught a bus from central Athens to take me to the south part of Greece, Peloponisos and in particular Argos where my dad is from and where he is currently based.
The drive was incredibly scenic and memorable for me because to get to my dad’s part of Greece in Argos, we drove through Corinth where my mother was from.
Waiting for me at the major bus terminal in Argos, was dad. It was great to see him as we had been apart for the past 2 weeks and I was worried about him.
I shouldn’t have. He was happy and elated to be in a place where he grew up and spent the first 20 years of his life before emigrating to Australia in the 50’s. Sentimentally, it is all here for him and as we drove to his small village of Karya, he made note to mention so many of the features of this town and what they meant to him when he was a kid.
I had been here as a four year old and although I do have memories from this time of my life, most of it all seemed a little blurry.
Arriving in Karya was a little overwhelming for me. The relatives were in the middle of a huge lunch and there must have been 30 people there. I knew no one and ended up sitting in the middle with my back to the wall and no way to escape. Ugh! I don’t like these things at the best of times so my anxiety levels were through the roof.
Sitting at the middle like the Jesus at the Last Supper painting with my tattoos all exposed, I felt like a freak. I caught some strange looks my way from the corner of my eye by people I had no idea who they were but I slowly began to feel at ease when a teenage girl of one of my uncles (or is that second cousin? I have NO idea) took an interest to me.
She spoke to me in English about her love of tattoo and how she wants to study to be a tattooist. Her knowledge was on point. She recognised my sleeve as a Neo Traditional Japanese style so we spent the afternoon talking about ink and all that. Anxiety levels subsided, I no longer felt like the circus freak.
She asked if she could photograph my arms to which I obliged and if I was going to the Athens Tattoo Expo in 2 weeks. As I will be in Berlin at the time, I unfortunately cannot make the expo.
The guests all eventually left and I asked dad if we could go and visit the home he was born in. It was a stone-throw from where we were sitting and he took me over. The house is long abandoned and pretty much empty since my grandmother died.
I did remember certain aspects of it and certain rooms triggered off some memories, but for the most part, it was all a blurry blank.
Initially, I was to spend a week here, but as there really wasn’t enough accomodation… suitable accomodation, I asked dad if it would be ok for me to return to Athens this week before I begin my Euro tour.
Before I left, I privately asked dad if he was ok and needed anything from me. In a sad tone he said to me how he wished mum was with him and that this holiday would probably be the last time he would ever see this place again.
It is funny. He only spent the first 25 years of his life here, yet he is uniquely identified as someone who is from that village. His identity is somewhat forever tied to this place.
My dad’s generation are the lost generation. They are neither Greek or Australian. In Australia he is considered a Greek. But in Greece he is considered an Australian. His memories of his country are from his perspective as a 20 year old, yet the great majority of his life has been in Australia.
I just wanted to hug him and not let go and somehow thank him for the sacrifices he has made for my sister and I. But it all gets lost in translation and love and warmth is hard to penetrate his aura of stubbornness.
I will return to Argos at the end of the Euro leg and stay here a few days before we head back to Australia. There is a lot I need to explore and photograph of this little town, but for now, the time was not quite right.
Kerameikos Ancient Cemetery
With this unplanned part of my holiday, being back in Athens for the third week, I set forth to acclimatise myself with the neighbourhood I am currently residing in.
I don’t know how it goes for seasoned travellers, but for mine, the first day or so in a completely new area of the world, is somewhat scary.
Fortunately, I can speak the language so that makes getting around a helluva lot more easier. It will be interesting to see what it is like whilst I am in Germany, Czech Republic and Hungary but for the most part – everyone speaks English too!
I did notice that nearly every single street sign here in Athens, is written in both languages… Greek and English. I guess with cities that are such tourist attractions, it does make sense for that to be the case.
This morning my first mission was to find a supermarket so I could stock up on some necessities (milk, coffee, sugar, orange juice, bread, sandwich stuff etc). A supermarket was found so I stocked up on what I would need for the week ahead.
The apartment I am staying in is every bit as beautiful as the last one I was in but the internet connection is woeful. Not that I have come across the world to use the internet, but I do have some work to do for my every day job so transferring files back to Melbourne is almost impossible with this connection. It is HORRID so what I may resort to doing is completing my workload here at night, and then waiting till I am in Berlin next week (with hopefully better net) to send the files back to the boss.
It does get awfully lonely at times which doesn’t help matters because loneliness only triggers off depression in me so that can be an every day battle to stay motivated and just keep doing stuff.
Today I decided to visit the Kerameikos Ancient Cemetery which is only walking distance from my current apartment. The area was used continuously for burials from the twelfth century BC for a thousand years.
It felt incredible to be walking amongst such ancient ruins that predate us by thousands of years. I spent quite some time here today wandering through it all and trying to imagine what it would have looked like back in the day.
I noticed a turtle wandering along too! He was busy patrolling the area looking for vegetation to eat. He did get stuck at one point so I gave him a bit of a helping hand and off he went again. He was friendly enough and I said to him that he certainly had some nice grounds to call his home! I bumped into him an hour or so later and he had crossed quite a bit of land I can assure you!
From Wikipedia: Keramikos (Greek: Κεραμεικός), also known by its Latinized form Ceramicus, is an area of Athens, Greece, located to the northwest of the Acropolis, which includes an extensive area both within and outside the ancient city walls, on both sides of the Dipylon (Δίπυλον) Gate and by the banks of the Eridanos River. It was the potters’ quarter of the city, from which the English word “ceramic” is derived, and was also the site of an important cemetery and numerous funerary sculptures erected along the road out of the city towards Eleusis.
The area is enclosed and visitable through an entrance on the last block of Ermou Street, close to the intersection with Peiraios Street. The Kerameikos Mouseum is housed there, in a small neoclassical building that houses the most extensive collection of burial-related artifacts in Greece, varying from large-scale marble sculpture to funerary urns, stelae, jewelry, toys etc. The original burial monument sculptures are displayed within the museum, having been replaced by plaster replicas in situ. The museum incorporates inner and outer courtyards, where the larger sculptures are kept. Down the hill from the museum, visitors can wander among the Outer Kerameikos ruins, the Demosion Sema, the banks of the Eridanos where some water still flows, the remains of the Pompeion and the Dipylon Gate, and walk the first blocks of the Sacred Way towards Eleusis and of the Panathenaic Way towards the Acropolis. The bulk of the area lies about 7–10 meters below modern street level, having in the past been inundated by centuries’ worth of sediment accumulation from the floods of the Eridanos.
An Off Day
With work emails coming in thick and fast, I decided to treat today like a work-day and set about to do some stuff for the day job. Yeah, even on long-service-leave, I am needed to still do work.
I didn’t mind. There is no one able to fulfil my role back in Melbourne and there is no way I am going to leave them in the lurch and not assist.
So I knuckled down to get as much of it out of the way as possible. As the wifi in this apartment feels like a 2400 baud modem, I wasn’t able to upload my finished work. It is not due for weeks but I wanted it out of the way and I will Dropbox it for them next week in Berlin where I know ze net iz fastenhousen!
Next thing I knew it, was 7pm here so I thought enough is enough and went for a brief stroll around a few blocks.
It’s a bit of a bohemian area around here. Some amazingly classic style apartments are scattered throughout but there is also a ton of derelict and beat up places in-between. It makes for an interesting juxtaposition of styles and working classes in this particular area.
To be honest, I am totally over Athens and feel I have overstayed my welcome. I am very much looking forward to the weeks ahead which kick off on Monday and see me through some other European cities.
Strangers In The Night
The block of apartments I am currently staying at, although they are absolutely stunning, seem to be a party-goers nirvana. Each night here so far you can hear the revelry continue on till 4AM.
The front door in my apartment, literally opens up to the street. Although the door is quite secure, I did have a heart attack when at 3:50AM I woke to the sound of someone rustling the door.
I saw a silhouette of a girl there trying to put a key in the door before she realised her flat door was the one next to mine.
By the time she worked it out, I got a photo happening (as you do!) before the cavalry of party peeps came downstairs and got her.
So yeah, waking up in a half-dosed slumber like I was, tell me the scene above would not give you the heebeegeebees when your gaze first sees it.