Our time in Greece was really relaxing. We had grand plans to visit a lot of the countryside and go out to some of the islands but instead we ended up hanging out in Athens, enjoying the food, going to the ancient sights, and watching the protests.
Going to the 4th of July event was probably the best experience we had. We’ve been gone for 11 months and it was fun to watch fireworks, eat hot dogs, and hang out with Americans. Generally it is not enjoyable to come across a lot of Americans in a group while traveling but the 4th of July event was very good and we were happy to go!
We were really surprised by the food. It was pretty much nothing like Greek food in the US. Even the things we thought would be the same, like gyros, had French fries inside the wrap! We really enjoyed the flavors and all the offerings. There was a little restaurant next to where we were staying and I would go there to get a gyro pretty much every day. Soon enough they recognized me and then I noticed my gyros were getting bigger and bigger! Another real treat was finding baklava. Normally baklava is pretty expensive in the US, like $4 for a very small slice. I found a bakery near us that sold pie sized baklava for about $11, that’s a steal, so I bought two!
The ancient sights were really neat. We weren’t staying too far from them so we’d visit in the afternoon when the sun started to go down and the crowds cleared out. It’s rather amazing what people thousands of years ago could build!
We watched a lot of protests while we were in Greece. I happened to walk through the main square where people protest and was there when the voting results were announced. Like all the other protests, everyone was really laid back, it was calm, and it felt more like the State Fair in Minnesota. It now appears as though things will get much worse for the Greeks before they get better. That said, as tourists we were nearly unaffected; had we not been scrambling to get euros like everyone else when the banks first closed we would not have even realized Greece had issues.
We had a really good time in Greece. We arrived on a Saturday and the banks were closed that Monday; left on a Thursday and the banks re-opened the next Monday. Seems like we brought the bad luck for the Greeks :).
Enjoy the photos!
We had a really fun 4th of July in Athens! Who would have guessed we would have found a party to go to!? It was a lot of fun to eat some true American food (hotdogs & hamburgers FTW!) with Americans.
We are pretty isolated from the current economic issues so things have been fine for us; we are really enjoying our time in Greece. The Greeks aren’t so lucky.
And, of course, no photo collection of Athens is complete without protest photos. I think the real winners of the protests are the flag and sign makers.
Enjoy the photos!
Yesterday was the “yes” (people who want to accept austerity and stay in the EU) protest so we went to check it out. The protest was totally different than the “no” (stop austerity and see what happens) protest – the “yes” protest was massive, there were so many people in the square it was nearly impossible to move. It took us a good 20min to walk a quarter of a block. It was incredibly hot in the crowd even though the temperature was in the low 60s (15.5C). Police shut down the arterial streets because so many people were flooding in they spilled over the sidewalks.
Just like yesterday, the crowd was very chipper considering the severity and seriousness of their situation.
Yesterday, the bailout ended and Greece did not pay its creditors. The politicians are trying to wrangle a deal before the July 5 referendum on whether the citizens want more austerity or not.
There is word the government and the banking system only has enough cash on hand for a handful of days of operation.
I think we are in for an interesting week. The supermarkets and ATMs around us have plenty of supply so we’ll see what happens.
When in Greece do as the Greeks do, part 2: protest!
We are fine and things seem to be quite calm here in Athens. Given the severity and seriousness of the situation the Athenians are surprisingly chipper.
Saturday and Sunday were very hairy. We didn’t know if we would be able to get money and ultimately if we’d have to leave Greece. ATMs were closed or out of money, people were roaming the streets looking for working ATMs, shops/restaurants stopped accepting credit card – everyone is looking to get cash. Sunday around midnight all the ATMs across the nation stopped working due to capital controls. Fortunately for us, tourists are exempt! The ATMs started turning back on in the mid-day Monday and I was able to withdraw cash. There were reports supermarkets and fuel stations were being emptied but we haven’t found that to be the case.
We had heard the “no” group (no more austerity, leave the EU) was protesting outside of parliament so we decided to go down and check it out. It was very peaceful and all sorts of different age groups and folks from different walks of life were present. There were a lot of news crews and journalists roaming the streets. The “yes” protest (stay in the EU, accept austerity) is tonight and I think we will go to that protest too. Why not, right?
When in Greece do as the Greeks do, right?
So, in this case… Join the bank run. Government shut down the banks and people are trying to get cash from ATMs – including me.
We arrived to Greece yesterday knowing there was still financial issues the country was working through with its creditors but we had no idea a bank run would happen. The day we arrived (6/27) we were able to pull a small amount of money out of an ATM at the airport figuring we’d get more money at the many ATMs spread all over the city of Athens. Early on 6/28 we were following the news and we realized we had a pretty big problem on our hands: the Greek government looked like it was going to fail to meet it’s financial obligations and we had heard people were withdrawing money at ATMs. Saturday morning I went out and tried to get as much money as possible. There’s word of bank holidays / closures and no one is sure what’s going to happen or whether we’re able to get money.
I emailed multiple people we knew in Athens asking what to do and how this will all get sorted. No one knew and stated they were in the same situation as Jac and I. The most memorable comment by far was, “good luck to us all!”. Not very reassuring.
I think we will have a very interesting time in Greece. Of all the different situations we planned encountering while traveling, a nations’ solvency was nowhere on the list. We certainly didn’t expect this.