Athens Pays it Forward

Athens is full of surprises.  Especially when I have visitors.  It’s almost as if Athens knows that my peeps are coming and decides to act up.  My roomie from college, Ang and two of her friends came to visit me this past weekend.  However, when Ang and I went to get on the bus to pick up her other friend the buses weren’t running.  The main roads had been blocked off for the Athens Marathon-the original marathon that begins in Marathon, Greece and ends at the stadium by my apartment.  Ok so this wasn’t exactly a surprise-it was my forgetfulness.  Of course Ang and her friends thought that it was cool-I thought, great more tourists in my neighborhood (as if I’m not a part of that category too?).

 Later on that day I took Ang and her friends to the best gyro place in Athens-I get minimum 4 a week.  Only to discover that it was closed.  I was really beginning to loose my “I live here, I know where it’s at” façade.  But the truth is even the Greeks are not all-knowing here in Athens. 

 Just the other day my roommate Emma and I were waiting to catch a bus home from the city-center.  It was a normal workday so the buses run often.  Thirty minuets pass.  The other Greeks at the bus stop are up in arms.  I love it, seeing them get angry because they are soooo heated.  After sixty minuets I was beginning to feel some Greek heat too.  Personally, time is of no concern to me here, but I had a midterm in two hours, which I needed to study for.  Taxi? Forget it, everyone at my bus stop was going to the same neighborhood and taxi drivers were saying no, because they didn’t feel like it.  If an old Greek woman can’t get a taxi, I had no chance. 

 Soon the roads began closing.  No one around us seemed to know what was going on.  Turns out, Athens closed the main roads so that the president of the European Union (who was in town that week) could drive to his hotel.  As I watched his car pass, surrounded by numerous other vehicles, I thought the roads would then open back up.

 However, surprise surprise, they did not because there was a riot on the next street up in front of Parliament.  I’ve been told that November is a feisty month in Greece.  Lots of memorial-riot type events such as November 17th (I’m sure I’ll have material for a new blog after that day).  Novermber 17th recognizes the revolutionary group called 17N referring to the final day of the 1973 Athens Polytechnic Uprising, a protest against the Greek Military Junta.  But there is a lot more to it than that.

 Eventually, Emma and I decided to can public transport and just walk home.  On our way we stopped by the riot-which was more like a demonstration.  One of the students informed us that they were protesting the current economic situation.  Greece is experiencing massive unemployment rates.

 Angie and her friends returned last night from Xios (pronounced “Hios”).  They were with me for one more night and that’s when I realized; Athens wasn’t acting up at all when they were here last weekend.  It was just being itself-unpredictable, passionate, and full of surprises.  Last weekend Athens was a little feisty and unreliable.  But that’s ok because the pendulum swung the other way this weekend.  I took the girls to one of my favorite restaurants using public transport successfully I might add.  We had a great time and the waiter kept giving us after dinner shots of “Greek Water” because he liked Obama.  He was the first Greek that I have encountered who actually liked Obama.  Last week politics inspired riots, this week politics inspired “yamas” (Cheers).  The girls were very impressed with the food and even more with the bill- “I live here, I know where it’s at” façade is back.

 The good karma continued when I found 15 euro on the street today! I used it to take my roommates out to coffee.  And you know what? It tasted a little bit better because it was free.  Maybe Athens was a little difficult last weekend at an inconvenient time when I had guests.  But it fell back into my good graces by treating my friends and I to coffee.  And honestly, Athens will always be in my good graces.  Because even when Athens is at it’s worst, I will always love it unconditionally and irrevocably.  I think that we will be very happy together…

 Love,

 TZEINA

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