Matt Richardson

On Travels... More about Greece.

January 12, 2005 | 2 Minute Read

A week or so back, Wendy told me that she didn't enjoy my Greece stories as much, cos I didn't include enough anecdotes and perceptions about the place and the people. So, even though I’d said I’ve finished the Greece stories, here's another short one.

With Nafplia, once you got out of the centre of town, it was pretty dirty. There were places where there wasn't any footpath, and rubbish all over the place. The buildings were also pretty dirty (but that seems to be a Europe thing), and it seemed curiously reminiscent of India. Much cleaner, but they seemed to have something in common. I had this impression a few times there - something about the cramped towns and the lack of Australian/American 'suburbia' I think.

As for Athens - it’s been transformed into a cool, hip city, especially around Plaka. The 2004 Olympics meant that the city (at least the touristy parts) got a makeover. Now, it’s full of cafe's and cool bars. I'm not sure what it was like before, but now it’s pretty good. But, get away from the touristy parts, and once again, you get to see the real city, without the make-up. Its dirty, crazy, and very much not the "sanitized" western city that I was expecting.

It’s quite odd: for the country that pretty much invented civilisation, it’s remarkably behind the mod-cons, and the conditions that most western cities have. The transport was definitely second rate as well. Most Western European countries, it’s pretty easy to get around, but the Greek public transport system seemed to go out of its way to make it difficult for you.

As for the people - I didn't actually spend much time with them, but nearly everyone spoke English (giving me no incentive to learn Greek). At one point I did see some old guys playing checkers on a side street, which was sort of the typical-old-greek-guys-playing-checkers-on-the-street-cliché, but it was cool nonetheless.

Anyway, this has been more of a ramble, and hopefully it adds a bit to my other stories, and lessens the 'i did this, then this, then this’ aspect of it. Maybe Amy'll wander past and add a comment to expand the story & remind me of a few things.

Tagged: On Travels