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Entries : Category [ athens ]
The city itself, big, fat, loud, stinking, sitting in the middle of Attica and growing. Athens, Greece, to be sure.
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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 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)
02 June 2006

HelMUG Generalversammlung diesen Sonntag

Diesmal in Athen

Die letztjährige Generalversammlung des griechischen Mac Clubs "HelMUG" ist mir noch lebhaft in Erinnerung. Seitdem ist unglaublich viel passiert. Bei "denen im Vorstand" hat es viel Durcheinander gegeben, die GV ist dieses Jahr auch stark verspätet. Ich selber bin inzwischen Hilfs-Systemadministrator auf dem HelMUG-Server. Den Server hatten wir bei einem Ausflug nach Thessaloniki komplett neu aufgesetzt.

Diesen Sonntag ist jetzt also wieder Generalversammlung. Dieses Jahr in Athen, in der Piräus-Strasse, so dass mich diesmal keine Bahnfahr-Abenteuer erwarten. Ganz ohne Abenteuer wird die Anreise wohl nicht ablaufen, denn am gleichen Tag findet in Athen wieder der "Stadtlauf" statt, der "Γύρος της Αθήνας" (Link auf Griechisch). Dafür wird die gesammte Innenstadt abgesperrt und mit der Anreise mit Bus ist nix. Ich werde versuchen das Stadtzentrum zu "unterfahren", mit der Metro.

Posted by betabug at 15:59 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
03 June 2006

Neoclassical Houses in Athens

Athinaidos street montage
neoclassical houses in Athinaidos street, Athens center

Went with company for a shopping trip to Ermou street and later into the smaller sidestreets (they shopped, not me). At some point I got bored and started taking pictures. Lots of neoclassical buildings there, some of them well restored.

As usual you can click on the image to see a bigger view. I had some problems with the lighting conditions. My camera phone is not really able to cope with the bright evening sky and dusky building fronts in the same picture set. Also I have to adjust for a metric ton of magenta thrown in by the image chip.

Even with those impediments, the atmosphere of the moment is there for me. That's what makes photography worthwile in the end. Having a beautyful picture and a "Vergissmeinicht" of the moment. BTW: I added a category "montage" for those panorama and montage pictures I'm making. It appears empty, but contains all the posts with pictures like this one.

Posted by betabug at 18:39 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
11 June 2006

Der Papagei im Park

Ein freier Papagei im griechischen Nationalgarten

Ich war gerade auf den Nachhauseweg gewesen und hatte einen kleinen Umweg durch den griechischen Nationalgarten gemacht, zwischen dem Zappeion-Palast und dem Parlament am Syntagma-Platz gelegen. Ich war an den Käfigen vorbeigegangen, in denen früher Löwen und Wölfe eingezwängt waren und wo heute die Gänse und Enten vor der Vogelgrippe weggesperrt werden. Ich dachte darüber nach, wie traurig diese Käfige früher waren und wie egal es den Enten schien, auch wenn sie den Zugang zu ihrem grossen Teich verloren hatten. Sie quakten und schnatterten vor sich hin, begleitet von all dem anderen Vogelvieh im Park, eingesperrt oder nicht. Einer der Vögel pfiff wie ein Papagei.

Was an sich nicht weiter verwunderlich war, denn es gibt alle möglichen Vögel hier - nur kam das Pfeifen von vorne. Die Käfige hatte ich aber gerade hinter mich gelassen. Ich blieb stehen und hörte hin.

Kein Zweifel, das war das typische pfeifen - warten - pfeifen eines Papageis. Dazwischen ab und zu ein Krächzen, auch ein typisches Geräusch. Aus Erfahrung weiss ich, dass es gar nicht so einfach ist, die Richtung des Pfeifkonzerts richtig einzuschätzen und den kleinen Krachmacher zu finden. Er schien vor mir zu sein, etwas höher als ich. Da waren Bäume und Büsche in der Richtung, hinter denen sich eine weitere Voliere hätte verstecken können. Aber ich konnte mich nicht an eine Voliere in der Richtung erinnern.

Also bewegte ich den Kopf hin und her, machte noch ein paar Schritte vorwärts, wobei ich nach oben in die Bäume schaute. Nach ein paar Minuten sah ich ihn schliesslich, oben in einer der Baumkronen, in etwa 15 Meter höhe. Sobald ich ihn gesehen hatte, antwortete ich auf sein Pfeifen. Ein Spiel, dass ich aus meiner Kindheit kenne, als wir mal einen Papagei zu hause hatten. Er (oder sie?) antwortete mir und wir pfiffen eine Weile hin und her. Dabei schaute er mit seitlich gedrehtem Kopf in meine Richtung (die Augen der Papageien liegen seitlich am Kopf, also dreht ein Papagei den Kopf weg, wenn er dich direkt anschauen will).

Irgendwann wurde es ihm wohl langweilig. Er plusterte sich, strich mit dem Schnabel ein paar mal im Gefieder herum ("huch bin ich verlegen") und kletterte auf dem Ast näher an den Stamm des Baumes. Dabei nahm er den Schnabel zu Hilfe, um sich ab und zu festzuhalten. (Papageien können sich zum Spass auch mal vom Schnabel von einem Ast baumeln lassen.) Gegen den hellen Himmel konnte ich seine Farbe nicht wirklich gut sehen, aber ich tippte auf einen Graupapagei. Als er dann einen Moment lang die Flügel spreizte, sah ich die Schwanzspitze rot im Gegenlicht aufglühen - da schien ich richtig getippt zu haben.

Als ich weiterging, war er gerade dabei, genüsslich Rindenstücke von einem toten Ast abzureissen. Ich beglückwünschte ihn zu seiner Freiheit, wünschte weiterhin alles gute und machte mich wieder auf den Weg nach Hause.

Posted by betabug at 20:43 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
15 June 2006

A View at Kerameikos

My beloved ancient site in Athens
Panorama of Kerameikos ancient site

Ever since I was hanging out in a motorcycle repair shop next door to it, the archaeological site of Kerameikos was my beloved ancient place in Athens. It's not just old stones, it's a garden in itself. Like the very best of the ancient places, it has a special atmosphere to it.

Last Sunday I had planned to visit it again. Somewhere in my memory I had stored that entrance to archeological sites in Athens is free on Sundays. Well, it is, but only in the winter season. Right now it's the full 12 Euro - a bit hefty, even if you consider that the ticket is valid for many archeological sites all over Athens. So I was cheap and didn't go, I had a walk around Acropolis instead (which led to me discovering the parrot on my way home through the national garden, another story).

Back to Kerameikos, on Tuesday I passed by it, and I snapped a few pictures from the outside through the fence. Here is one result of them, also available in medium size and huge size.

Posted by betabug at 20:48 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
18 June 2006

Turtles in the National Garden

turtles in the Athens national garden

Turtles in the Athens National Garden. They have a big basin, with places to climb out and lay in the sun. Picture is still from last weeks walk. There are lots of them together, when one goes closer to the basin, some of them swim over to have a look at you.

They are the ones with the red spots in the face (too lazy to look up the family name now), and they're quite big, some of them are probably 20cm or more in length. AFAIR these turtles live in hot climate in their natural surroundings, so Athens should be a perfect place for them.

I especially enjoyed looking at their swimming patterns, how they move their feet. Every foot kicks on it's own, it's (for example) front right, back left, front left, back right. If they are not in a hurry, each movement is very distinctly on its own.

Update: "Red-eared Slider" or "Trachemys scripta elegans", that seem to be their official names.

Posted by betabug at 10:46 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
23 August 2006

Evening Swimming at Faliron

Walking the promenade for some fresher air
seawalk in Palaio Faliron, Athens

The last two evenings I went straight from work to the coastline at Παλαιόν Φάληρον (Palaion Faliron). First reason was a bit of relief from the heat we have right now in the city. Near the sea there is always a bit of fresh air. I went for a swim both evenings. Yes, I know, I know, old time Athenians always tell how bad the water quality is. In my experience the water quality has improved a lot. The sea isn't really absolutely clean, but in my opinion it's acceptable. The municipality of Faliron provides fresh water showers, so after the swim one can wash off the salt and any remainings of suspected dirt.

Oh to describe what joy a swim in the cool sea brings at the current temperatures. The body is relieved for some time from the stress of being boiled and fried alive. I splash around like a little child and then just float around, soaking up coolness (or disseminate all the accumulated heat from my body). The refreshened feeling persists all the time that I still sit at the beach.

After the swim we went for a promenade on the sea-walk from Faliron to my old neighborhood in Kalamaki. On Monday leaving the beach and going back next to the road, the heat hit me like a solid wall. It embraces the body like a python in a cheap horror movie, pulling and tightening. After a while we descended to another beach and I went for a second swim. Yesterday evening the temperature must already have been fallen by a couple of precious degrees and one single swim was enough for me. (As usual, click on the image for a bigger view.)

Posted by betabug at 11:03 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
01 September 2006

Lesvos in Exarchia

Ouzeri "Lesvos"

Gestern abend waren wir eingeladen zum Essen in einem Restaurant nach Lust und Laune. Zusammen mit unseren Gastgebern Sabine und Thrasivolos suchten wir in Εξάρχια (Exarchia) nach einem Lokal das uns gefiel. Jeder hatte so seine Tipps (ich kann mich bei meinen immer nur so halb erinnern wo die Lokale dann sind). Schlussendlich landeten wir in der Ouzeri "Λέσβος" ("Lesvos") in der Εμμανουήλ Μπενάκη ("Emmanuil Benaki"). Dort tranken wir Ouzo "Veto" aus Lesvos (sehr zu empfehlen) und Wein, assen dazu Vorspeisen: Gegrillten Tintenfisch, Langusten, Käse, Fleischbällchen.

Die Ouzeri "Lesvos" ist ein schönes Beispiel für eine typische griechische Ouzeri. Kein Schummerlicht, sondern direktes, hartes Neonlicht. Einfache Tische und Stühle auf dem Bürgersteig. Es gibt die Vorspeisen des Tages und sonst nichts. Ich wollte schon zwei, drei mal hingehen und dort essen, aber bis jetzt war es jedesmal zu (Sonntag oder Montag abend geschlossen?). Diesmal hat es geklappt, sehr gut gefallen und wir sassen und quatschten bis der Laden zumachte. Danke an unsere Gastgeber!

Update: Ta Nea hat einen Artikel über die Ouzeri Lesvos - auf Griechisch.

Posted by betabug at 09:44 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
15 September 2006

Books Again on Wednesday

Bookshops, Catchers, Songlines, and The Cruel Sea

Sometimes I wonder why I go to Papasotiriou book shops at all when I look for english books. All they have is Dan Brown style fast food. "Politia" at Akadimias has a much better section, much more serious. They have stacks of e.g. John Steinbeck and Bukowski, where Papasotiriou has a single token Bukowski. So I went there next on Wednesday after work...

Before anyone chimes in on the topic of english language book shops in Athens, don't get me started on Eleftheroudakis and their one floor of english books. They are just a mess, as if a computer was doing the ordering at random, not a person. Which can not be, because a computer couldn't select the most boring books with such a certainty.

One book Politia didn't have was "Catcher in the Rye", which I had erroneously looked for under John Steinbeck while admiring the large display of his books, but which is of course by J.D.Salinger. My apologies to these authors, but the book isn't there under Salinger either. Which made me think. So short after the 5 year anniversary of the american "Reichstagsbrand" 9/11, given the current terrorism craze, the name of that book springing to mind had reminded me of the movie "Conspiracy Theory", in which Mel Gibson plays a psyched out political killer with a compulsion to buy the book. The reported background is that the murderer of John Lennon and the guy who attempted to assassinate Ronald Reagan both seem to have been obsessed with the book. I amused myself in believing that the absence of the book was a political statement or a kind of censorship. More likely it just wasn't in stock.

What I bought in the end are two wildly differing books. One is what we call in German a "Schmöker", a big, fat, easy book without much depth, but written good enough to keep reading for a weekend (or - if you are slower - for a vacation). I could have gotten some of them at the Papasotiriou fast food counter, but I got a weird book written 1948-50 about the war in the atlantic ("The Cruel Sea", by Nicholas Monsarrat). Like all books about war it is essentially dumb and bad. I'm somehow sorry for having bought it, to my defense I might only say that there was no cyberpunk science fiction to be had and I needed something to read.

The other one is Bruce Chatwin's "Songlines". Now this could be considered literature. I've read some of Chatwin's short stories and somehow liked them. I guess this book will be demanding more attention to read and maybe comprehend, but in the end will be more rewarding too. There is a special reason I bought Chatwin's book, of which I likely will tell in another post (leaving you with a slight weblog cliff-hanger here).

See also: The list of all "my" English language book shops in Athens.

Posted by betabug at 01:02 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (1)
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