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The city itself, big, fat, loud, stinking, sitting in the middle of Attica and growing. Athens, Greece, to be sure.
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24 February 2006

Nebliges Athen

Aussergewöhnliches Wetter... und Staub
Neblige Leoforos Vassilissis Sofias Neblige Syggrou Avenue

Nein, meine Kamera ist nicht dermassen schlecht, in Athen ist es heute neblig. Geparkte Autos sind ausserdem mit einer feinen Staubschicht überzogen. Das ist aussergewöhnlich und errinert mich an einen solchen Tag im April 2005, an dem wir Sand aus der Sahara zu Besuch hatten. Diese Nacht hatte es ausserdem geregnet, so dass die Luftfeuchtigkeit auch höher ist. In den Nachrichten habe ich noch nichts zum Staub gefunden. Einfach auf die Bilder klicken, um eine etwas grössere Ansicht zu sehen.


Posted by betabug at 10:09 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

Not Seeing Salif Keita in Athens

I prefer to remember the old times

Saw some posters on bus stations, Salif Keita is coming to Athens. He has concerts in Thessaloniki and in Athens, each in the respective Megaron Mousikis. The Athens Megaron Mousikis is the biggest and shiniest music hall for classical music here. I understand that these are a "Stop AIDS" concerts. Some Information from the Megaro Mousikis website (in Greek, direct link, because the website of Megaron Mousikis is plain unusable). The prices are very steep (starting from 40 Euro and going up to 300 Euro for VIP tickets). I'm just not going to do that, no matter that I really like Salif Keita's music.

I have seen and heard Salif Keita play life in Athens before. It was back somewhere in 1988, in a big open air concert on the beach in Kalamaki. It was a wonderfull night filled with some of the best african bands. There were a few african immigrants too, back then these were still very few and likely all of them who were able to raise the money for tickets were there. I had left at 5 in the morning to go home and sleep, even though the concert was still going. Lucky me I lived just a 5 minutes walk from the concert beach. When I briefly woke up around 8 in the morning I still heard them play. I will always remember that concert. Please excuse me Salif Keita, but I will continue remembering you in that concert. I don't think a lot of the african immigrants today in Athens can raise 40, 70, or even 90 Euro for a ticket. Also: How appropriate is a classical music concert hall for this music?

P.S.: Woody Allen had played with his big band in the Megaron Mousikis some time ago too. Tickets started around 240 Euro and went up to 360 Euro. This is around half of a monthly salary for "normal" jobs here. And it wasn't even a benefit concert. I've heard that Woody has some psychological problems, and given these circumstances I might believe that.


Posted by betabug at 23:10 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
28 February 2006

Es wird heller

Der Winter ist in Athen Ende Februar schon fast vorbei
Syggrou Avenue, frueher abend

Die letzten Tage wurde es hier schon einiges Wärmer, Höchst-Temperaturen von 15 bis 18 Grad Celsius, manchmal bewölkt, aber ab und zu auch mal Sonne. Ende Februar ist in Athen der Winter schon fast vorbei (obwohl es im März schon noch genug Regenfälle geben wird). Ein weiterer Effekt ist, dass ich aus dem Büro komme und es noch hell ist. (Siehe Bild.) Das wirkt sich immer auch auf meine Stimmung aus, ist halt schon was anderes noch etwas hellen Himmel zu sehen. Bis ich mit dem Bus quer durchs Zentrum zu Hause ankomme ist es dann schon dunkel.


Posted by betabug at 22:07 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
15 March 2006

Zuhause arbeiten am Streiktag

April-Wetter im März, teure Taxen, billige Flüge

Für Heute ist hier in Athen Generalstreik angesagt. Geplant war deswegen, dass ich am Abend vorher mit einem geliehenen Auto von der Arbeit komme und heute mit dem Auto hin und her fahre. Dann habe ich gestern gehört, dass die Athener Busse ab 7:30 Uhr doch fahren. Da ich nicht unbedingt ein Fan von Autofahren in Athen bin und noch weniger ein Fan von Parkplatzsuchen bin (weder Zuhause noch an meinem Arbeitsplatz gibt es wirklich Parkplätze), habe ich doch lieber den Bus genommen. Ist aber etwas anders rausgekommen als geplant...


Ja fährt er denn jetzt?

Die Information war richtig, nur hatte der Busverkehr heute morgen gerade einen Schluckauf als ich mich auf den Weg machte. Es fuhren schon Busse, nur meiner kam nicht. Ich wartete eine Stunde, in der Zeit kam ein passender Bus vorbei, aber der war so voll, dass er gar nicht erst anhielt. Da über 10 Polizei-Transportbusse an der Bushaltestelle vorbeifuhren nehme ich an, dass es im Zentrum Demonstrationen gegeben haben könnte, die vielleicht gerade meine Buslinie blockierten. Möglich ist es ja. Schlussendlich entschied ich mich, von Zuhause aus zu arbeiten. Internet habe ich ja jetzt.

Zuhause arbeiten

Hat auch fein geklappt, ich habe über SSH-Tunnel meinen Programmcode aus dem Firmen-CVS gesaugt und los gings. Aber komisch wars schon so tagsüber Zuhause zu sein. Früher habe ich auch schon von Zuhause gearbeitet, aber heute hatte ich ein Gefühl als wäre ich krankgeschrieben. Ich alleine Zuhause und alle im Büro. Naja, geht auch vorbei und in Ruhe arbeiten zu können ist auch mal was.

Dafür haben wir feines April-Wetter. Nein, nein, es ist noch März, aber in Griechenland ist der März der "Wetterwechsel-Monat". Heute morgen hat es erst geschüttet, dann genieselt (als ich mich auf den Weg machte), später kam die Sonne raus und jetzt nieselt es wieder. Dafür haben wir mit 12 Grad Celsius brauchbare Temperaturen.

Zum Flughafen trotz Streik

Apropos Wetter: Meine Mitbewohnerin ist für eine Woche nach München. Dort ist es laut Wetterbericht -2 Grad Celsius kalt. Da kann ich doch nur hoffen, dass der Klimawechsel sie nicht aus den Socken haut. Vor allem, nachdem sie der Streik heute schon ganz schön geschockt haben musste. Der Bus zum Flughafen fuhr nämlich auch erst ab 7:30 Uhr, was doch schon hinderlich ist, wenn man um 6 am Flughafen sein muss. Wäre mein Plan mit dem Auto durchgestiegen, hätte ich sie hingefahren (und wäre für längere Zeit in den Genuss von erlassener Geschirrspülpflicht gekommen). Statt dessen hat sie sich ein Taxi bestellt. Wird wohl so um die 30 - 35 Euro gekostet haben bis zum Flughafen, was an sich ja geht. Aber die Pointe ist, dass sie für den Flug nach München dann auch nur noch das doppelte wie für das Taxi bezahlt: Schlappe 70 Euro dank gnadenloser Preisrecherche.

Posted by betabug at 17:48 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
26 March 2006

Evening Window Shopping Walk on Ermou

A small relaxing walk through Athens center

Some catching up with the weekend's events: Friday evening was relatively warm and nice outside, so we wanted to take a little walk. Our choice was to go from Syntagma Square down Ermou street to the Monastiraki metro station... for window shopping.


We took the metro to Syntagma, crossed the square and walked up Ermou street. The square is well lit and populated even in the later evening hours. Greeks like to go out and now that the unpopular winter weather is mostly gone, people are out on the street. The place looked a bit empty to me, but that was just me. The last time I've been there in the evening was in the pre-christmas season. The square was really crowded then and brightly decorated too.

Crossing the street on the "lower" side of the square to Ermou street is a bit of a hassle. The pedestrians light turns to "red" much too fast. But the shear mass of the pedestrians counteracts that, we all just keep walking no matter how red the light has turned, and the automobilists can't really run over 50 people at once.

Once on Ermou things get much more relaxed, no cars on Ermou. This is one place where you can lazily stroll all across the street and look at the shop windows. Ermou is mostly clothes and shoes. There used to be textiles too, but those moved to locations with cheaper rent. You can stroll on Ermou on Saturday afternoon too, but then you will have to share the street with thousands of others, the place gets crowded with shoppers.

I like the atmosphere on Ermou in the late evenings. It's more or less silent, with still some street musicians around. There are people around, so it's not frightening (even if I was the type to be frightened). Everything is well lit too and even though the boutiques are closed, some cafes and bars are open.

We did not see a car almost till Monastiraki, where the traffic free zone ends. We turned to the left there and approached the metro station on the Monastiraki square through the tourists food street. I got me two "kalamakia" (souvlaki without the pita bread to those less familiar with Greek traditional fast food), an excellent little meal which I downed before we went home by metro.

Posted by betabug at 22:36 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

Griechischer Unabhängigkeitstag

Samstag war "der 25ste", Stockfisch und Bummel durch die Plaka

Diesen Samstag war der 25. März, griechischer Unabhängigkeitstag, oft einfach als "der 25ste" bezeichnet und einer der grossen Feiertage. Diesmal habe ich lange geschlafen und deswegen die grosse Parade verpasst. Naja, muss ja auch nicht jedes mal sein. Die ganze Stadt (oder eher das ganze Land) ist beflaggt, bis in die Seitenstrassen (siehe Bild). Am 25.3.1821 beschlossen die Anführer der griechischen Revolution den Aufstand gegen die türkischen Besatzer. Deshalb geht's auf der Parade auch recht militärisch zu und im Fernsehen laufen Historienschinken ohne Ende. Gegessen wird auch speziell...


Griechische Fahne in Seitenstrasse

Irgendwie scheinen die meisten griechischen Gebräuche drauf rauszulaufen, dass alle das gleiche essen. Mal fasten sie alle (in der Woche vor Ostern), mal wird nur Meeresgetier verputzt (καθαρή δευτέρα, der Montag nach der Fasnacht), mal brutzelt überall das Lamm (Ostersonntag)... und am 25. März gibt's μπακαλιάρος (Bakaliaros, Stockfisch) mit Kartoffeln und σκορδαλιά (Skordalia, Knoblauchpüree). Stockfisch war vor knapp 200 Jahren das super Sonntagsessen, was extra feines für Feiertage. So hat es sich bis heute an diesem historischen Feiertag erhalten. Schmeckt eigentlich ganz gut und wenn man es nicht so mag, einmal im Jahr liegt es wohl drin.

Wir haben den Tag mit einem Bummel vom Monastiraki durch die Plaka abgeschlossen - passend der historische touch. Eigentlich wollten wir bei der Metrostation Akropolis rauskommen, haben aber in den mit Touriläden gepflasterten Gässchen die Richtung verloren und sind auf der Amalias (beim Syntagma) gelandet. Dort waren wir noch kurz versucht ins neue "Athens HardRock Cafe" zu gehen, haben es aber doch sein lassen. Passt halt doch nicht so ganz zum Festtag.

Posted by betabug at 23:09 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
29 March 2006

Spring and Comics at the Park

From last Sunday afternoon
Flowers at the Parko Eleftherias

This is a picture from last Sunday. We went to the Parko Eleftherias, sat in the grass and read newspapers in the sun. Watched playing children. Just as relaxing as you can get in the neighbourhood. The flowers have been set in a short while ago, I've seen the job from the bus. It didn't look like municipal people, more like a neighbourhood group.

Then we wandered over to the small culture center in the park. They had the "international realistic comic festival" there. Which sounds much bigger than it is. It's just a hall with comics on the wall and some talks. I understand the program is on galera.gr. If you are into comics, the "festival" is still up a few days, till April 1st, go have a look, admission is free. The comics are of course the serious kind, not the Micky Mouse variety, that's why it's called "realistic". I liked the comics good enough, though I wondered a bit of the use of showing them in an exhibition. Some of them were obviously originals, and seeing the work of the artist more "up personal" was indeed interesting.

Back to Athens: Spring is here. It's not so much the weather (warmer all the time), but much more the smell. Ever heard them tell "the air smells like spring"? It does now.


Posted by betabug at 10:12 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
06 April 2006

My Bus to Work

What makes an everyday's thing special

My bus to work is pretty average in that it crosses town, is sometimes crowded, sometimes almost empty and comes by reliable every day (except on strikes) in reasonable intervals. What makes it special are some small things: First of all, some of the busses have a system that announces stops with a recorded voice. This is likely supposed to be working in all busses (they have speakers), but I observe it in working order only in one (or a couple?) of the busses on one of the two lines I can take. It sure would be usefull for visitors

The other thing that makes it special is the route it takes. It's almost a sightseeing tour. I can see the Acropolis (especially nice in the evening), the Zeus temple, Lycabettus, and the Stadium. Actually there is a real sightseeing line (Nr. 400) of the Athens busses, which goes along a piece of the same roads.


Posted by betabug at 17:59 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
17 April 2006

Short Visit To The 2CV Club

People on the streets

Monday and Friday nights the folks from the Greek 2CV club open their beautyful club house [1]. Tonight is an easy warm night, so I dropped in for a short visit. Enjoyed the oil talk, but didn't see any close friends. On the way back home I noticed how warm it has become. The thermometer on the pharmacy near my neighbourhood said 20C - at 23:00 at night. No wonder the cafes near Thision were full and people out on the streets, enjoying the easy evening.

[1]: Hellenic Club of 2CV Friends, 38 Thessalonikis str., between the Thision and Petralona stations of the subway.


Posted by betabug at 22:54 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
09 May 2006

Send In The Cows!

Cowparade in Athens
First cows of the cow parade

This morning as I was still sleepy riding the bus to work I saw a couple of bright painted cows at the Parko Eleftherias - quite a herd of them actually. In reflex I grabbed my camera phone and was able to shoot this pic. I expected to see more cows along the way, but no luck. Maybe they are more towards the center, maybe they just started being herded out... what's going on is the Athens CowParade.

The cowparade is an event that originated in Zurich, life-size plastic cows are painted by various artists and placed all over town. After being a success in Zurich, the cowparade went to other places (first stop was Chicago IIRC). The City of Athens has some information about the locations of the cow parade.


Posted by betabug at 09:25 | Comments (9) | Trackbacks (0)
14 May 2006

Sun, Sea, and Turtles in Glyfada

Sea breeze on Sunday

Took the tram to Glyfada today, was in need of some fresh air and a look at the waves. First thing I noticed upon arrival: Should have brought my swimming trunks. The sea was very inviting. Not too cold either. We took a little walk along the coastline instead. By chance we walked into the Greek sea turtle rescue center...


This is something like a hospital for sea turtles. It's run by a volunteer organization called ARCHELON. Wounded and sick sea turtles from all over Greece are brought here. The turtles are medically treated and rehabilitated. Then they are released to the wild again. The length of their stay depends on circumstances, but we heard about one example of a patient who stayed there for three years. One of the volunteers showed us around, explained how the place works, and told us some of the turtle's stories.

After that visit we went to eat something in Glyfada, then to sit a bit in the sun at the beach. We stayed all the afternoon. Glyfada has changed since I have last been there, but that was no surprise. What hasn't changed is some of the funny greek-american atmosphere. It's one of the main places in Athens to see greek american kids speak half Greek half English. They have "Canadian home made ice cream" and we saw a BMW with New York license plates.

Posted by betabug at 23:10 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (1)
21 May 2006

...wherein the betabug watches Eurovision

No, I didn't believe it either

I've always been ignorant to the Eurovision phenomenon. I mean, we surely must have watched Eurovision once or twice when we were kids, but I can't remember any details, and then I didn't as much as think a single second about the Eurovision Song Contest... until I came back to Greece two years ago. Suddenly people around me started to get all heated up about what, please? A f* european song contest? I couldn't believe it either. Despite my surroundings I have tried to continue to avoid everything about it. I say "tried", because with those surroundings the thing keeps coming after you. Yesterday I went with friends to watch Eurovision in a cafe...


To my defense I would like to state that I was there clearly for the company only. But I had spent enough time trying to find out if the city of Athens or ET (the greek state television) had set up large projections of the event in public places for the unwashed masses to see (you know, the washed masses paid 150 Euro for tickets and had the luck to get a ticket in the first 25 minutes after they started to sell and before they were sold out). I learned that there were no such public showings, but never mind, it's Greece and lots of cafe owners had projections and large TVs around.

Hanging out with the homies

Sitting in a cafe with friends is much more the greek way anyhow. So after having searched the web thing and asked around for some time, I thought it to be prudent to pay at least a bit of attention to the screen. Some thoughts about that business up there came to my mind, thoughts which probably are cold coffee for the folks who are really viewing that "show" every year.

So, they're pimping the votes, *how*?

First off, it's so hilarious how voting is really an affair of two systems, none of which has anything to do with the quality of the music or the performance on stage. First there is geography, neighboring countries voting for each other, Ukraine for Russia, Finland for Russia, the scandinavians amongst each other. The second is more economic, it follows the geography of migrant workers... Germany votes for Turkey, because all the turkish people in Germany vote for their home country.

Sometimes it goes the other way around too: Albania votes for Greece, because there are so many Albanians in Greece. Usually they give Greece their full 12 points, but this year there will likely be questions, since Greece go only 8 points from them, likely not a question that is taken easy. Heard someone say on TV this morning (about Cyprus and Bulgaria giving Greece 12 points when others didn't): "This shows who your friends really are." I hope those fools lighten it up a bit.

Lame, but thanks for trying anyway...

The organizers in Switzerland tried to bank on a third, lesser phenomenon: Sometimes artists are from other countries than the ones they represent. So the kluge people put together six singers from different Eurovision countries. It worked to a degree, as they got points from Malta and Bosnia who were represented in the swiss team that way. It made me wonder just how cheap and flat such a rouse can be to fall short.

"Fun"? That must be a mistake!

In the end sometimes it helps to have a new and unique concept. Hard rock at the Eurovision? Well, the finnish organizers tried and it worked out for once. It crashed the cement built voting systems for a moment. To me that song was a welcome break. There is only so much shallow pop muzak I can endure in one evening. Other than that, it was a really nice evening out with friends. We even went to eat sweets at 1:30 in the morning in Psiri.

Posted by betabug at 15:03 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)

Glyfada Panorama Picture

Watch the sun set
Sunset over the sea in Glyfada, Athens

Picture from last weeks excursion to Glyfada. The sunset was impressive and I liked the scenery. Today I took the time to stitch this little panorama together, in the usual manner. You can view a medium sized and a big version of this panorama picture too.


Posted by betabug at 17:20 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
22 May 2006

Another Athens Panorama

From the roof of the Divani Caravel hotel
Panorama view from the roof of the Divani Caravel hotel

Another panorama picture, Athens from above, as seen from the roof of the Divani Caravel hotel. I took these pictures when I was there for the safeline.gr meeting. The day was a bit cloudy and one can't see the swimming pool on the pic - the pool is up the stairs on the left side and on the other side of the roof.

Update: The big picture. Compare with the one taken from the roof of the hilton.


Posted by betabug at 23:53 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
25 May 2006

Winter-Traum, Sommer-Temperaturen

...und nach Rafina zum Fisch essen

Nachdem der Frühling dieses Jahr mit zwei ungewöhnlich kühlen Wochen hervorstach, sind jetzt die richtigen Temperaturen - ab in die 30er! - in Athen angekommen. Die Hitze machte mir erstmal zu schaffen, denn normalerweise kann ich mich durch den Frühling akklimatisieren. Heute morgen, ich hab gerade auf den Bus gewartet, machte es plötzlich "klick" und die Temperatur machte mir nichts mehr aus. Mal sehen, ob das so bleibt.


Nachts sind natürlich keine Woll-, Daunen- oder sonstigen Decken mehr gefragt. Ein Leintuch reicht, und auch damit klebt manchmal der Schweiss. Umso ungewöhnlicher war mein gestriger Traum (von dem ich natürlich wiedermal nur eine Ecke in Erinnerung behalten habe, grmbl). Im Traum fand ich mich als Schüler in einer Schulklasse wieder und wir waren im Winter draussen am Sport machen. Wir fingen an zu frieren und deshalb sind wir in die Turnhalle gegangen. Dort war es zwar auch kalt und ungeheizt, aber es waren noch andere Schulklassen dort und mit den vielen "menschlichen Heizkörpern" hofften wir dass es nicht ganz so kalt ist. Diagnose wenn man so einen Schrott bei nächtlichen 25 Grad träumt: Morgens hatte es wohl abgekühlt und ich wollte wieder zugedeckt werden :-)

Gestern abend waren wir dafür mit Pat und seiner Freundin in Rafina (am anderen Ende von Attika) zum Fisch essen. Klar war es witzig, klar war das Essen prima. Und zu allem konnte man noch den ganzen Abend im T-Shirt draussen sitzen ohne zu frieren. Danach mit Pat noch Backgammon gespielt. Ich hab zwar (knapp) verloren, doch den guten Pat verzweifeln zu sehen, als im ersten Spiel alle meine verrückten Züge aufgingen und er kein Bein auf den Boden bekam, das war es wert.

Posted by betabug at 23:31 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
01 June 2006

Driving into Athens by Night

Big roads, strange place

Wednesday evening I had left Athens to meet with some people from HelMUG in Porto Rafti, on the other side of Attica. We came back the same night. Sitting outside near the seaside, the evening had become chilly with humidity, my clothes damp and cold. We climbed into the car, rolled the windows up and turned the heating on to defog the windows, quite the statement in a city that is hot even in Spring. Then we drove back into Athens at night time...


Driving from Porto Rafti back into Athens from the super modern toll road "Attiki Odos". This place didn't look like Athens at all, a big road, almost empty at half past one in the morning. It did not even look like Greece at all.

I remember driving into Athens many times, for many years. I would be riding in my 2CV (first many times in the beige 2CV4 with the french plates, later in the red 2CV6). No matter if it was day or night, it was always a special spectacle. Driving over the little hills, looking out over the top each time to catch that first glimpse of the sprawl of the big city. The sight where you see the concrete jungle stretch out till every horizon, climbing up every hill.

There always was that feeling of getting sucked in, coming from the country roads, moving almost quick (hey, it's a 2CV), then getting slowly, slowly surrounded by more and more traffic, up to the final point of arrival in Athens. Which, if by car, means to be glued into the stop and go routine that goes by the name "traffic" in Athens.

No such thing on that evening. Instead a modern, empty road, symbol of the new Greece. Cold, clinical, only recognizable as Greece by the occasional neon sign with Greek characters. But to not be stuck in traffic for once is nice experience here. Try the same trick in the morning or - heaven forbid - come back to Athens on Sunday evening and you reach completely new levels of being stuck, on that big and shiny new road.

Posted by betabug at 09:04 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
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