Trip Start Oct 25, 2009
Trip End Nov 02, 2009

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Flag of Greece  , Attica,
Wednesday, December 9, 2009


We drive to Athens early this morning.

My flight this time is in the evening so I have plenty of time to get down the centre of Athens and buy some gifts that I want to carry with me for my friends and relatives. I leave home with a pleasant mood and much excitement, because I love this moment of purchasing gifts for my loved ones.

I am lucky that the riots of the previous couple of days have ceased.

It is the 9th of December, but still nothing reminds me of Christmas holidays down in the centre.  There is no Christmas Tree, or any Christmas decorations in the streets at Syntagma Square, or the round central area. Only the decorations in the shop windows.  The atmosphere is very different from other years.  Suddenly I don't feel excited any more.

I walk down Ermou Street where I usually do my shopping.

There are crowds of people in the streets, but you can see that these people are not happy.

Their faces are gloomy, and walk in the streets like robots. They seem as if their bodies are there in the streets but their minds are not.  This sadness is drawn on their faces and their pace is heavy as they walk.  From time to time you can see one or two youngsters, who seem more relaxed, chatting with their friends, smoking a cigarette or teasing each other. Probably live on their parents money.  I envy them for their unconcern.

There are black and other nationality vendors who have probably come to Athens for a better life scattered on both sides of the street and even gathered around the fountain.  Some sell bags, belts, suitcases, scarves and cheap jewelry. I pity them but I also pity the shop owners who pay so much rent.  These poor people who stand or sit out in the streets squattingly trying to sell their goods and are being chased by the police, have probably families back in their countries and live under very bad conditions piled up in small apartments and sharing the rent with others.  They have the right to live, but it is true that they are so many that Greece cannot endure any more.  They should leave the country, but day after day they multiply like rats.

I decide to go to a big shopping centre at Omonia Square, and I come across crowds of pensioners holding numerous banners, and a man in the middle who seems to be the leader, is having a speech on the rights of pensioners.

The old men can barely stand, but they are still holding these huge banners and seem to be listening with great attention to everything that is being heard over the loudspeakers.  I almost pass through them, and I can see how disappointed and harassed they are. While passing through I feel the hard beat of the voice of the man talking, so deep in my heart that tears come to my eyes.  I feel a lump in my throat, and I feel sorry for these people! They are struggling so hard to meet ends with very little money

I enter the big shopping centre with the hope to feel better, but here again I face the same atmosphere.

I always like to scrutinize peoples’ faces, and I can easily understand more than they like to show. It is the economic problem, and the fact that people don’t have money. Many have lost their jobs, or have relatives, or children who are fired from their work.   It is almost 11 am and still the big shopping store is nearly empty. 

There are many customers who try to check the price on different things, they have a look, and leave without buying.  There are some people holding a bag or two, but still you can feel they are sad, as if they were planning to buy something else, and in the end bought another cheaper product. Probably because they face other problems as well. In previous years you would see people holding at least 6 or 7 bags this time of year!

I try hard to enjoy my shopping this morning, but alas! 
No joy at all, and even the Christmas carols in the store seem to be different this day!

I buy what I need for my friends and relatives, and I leave everything at a friend’s little kiosk to go to a restaurant and get some lunch.  I am still frightened to walk in the streets with all these bags I am holding, and I feel relieved when I leave everything and go to the restaurant.

I order a pitta of shish kebab and a glass of wine, and luckily the people in here for the first time this day seem to be merrier.  I enjoy my meal, leave a tip and leave. I get back to get my bags thanking my friend, and go home.

I am home feeling happy that I got some very good bargain things today. I believe  my gifts will please everyone.  I still need to buy some more but I always buy from the Duty Free Shops at the airport.  The truth is that if you know where to look you can find good quality things and in good price.  I am happy indeed that I have achieved this again today.

Before leaving for the airpot I try to lie down and rest a bit, but I am not able to get any sleep.

It is 5 pm and we are heading for my son’s house to say a quick hello, and then drive to my daughter’s house.  I don’t have much time left and there is traffic jam in the road.

Everyone seems to be in a hurry as always, and by the time we reach her apartment it is really late.  I just have 20 minutes to see my grandchildren who are so surprised seeing me waving goodbye and kissing them in a hurry to get to the airport in time.

Isidora is crying when I leave,  saying that she wants to see me more!

I kiss goodbye my husband and move towards the check in. I just have the code and number of my e ticket this time without a copy of it, so I feel a bit nervous until I get my boarding card.

I come to the Duty Free shops and I find everything I want.

The plane takes off at 9.30 pm sharp and I am relieved to be sitting in the plane heading for Larnaca once again.  The aircraft is almost full.  I am sitting next to a window and feel happy because nobody sits in the middle seat. 

It is dark outside, so there is not much to do but wait until the plane lands

At the seat just at the corridor there is a woman who seems to be writing or correcting some notes of hers.  She seems absorbed but we have the chance to talk to each other while having our snack. 

Her name is Rea and she is an Ambassador and Political Director, working for the Republic of Cyprus.  We chatted over different things, and the time passed pleasantly.

It is time to land, so I fix my seat and get ready for landing. I can see the lights below, and feel happy that soon I will be heading for my house.

We say goodbye to each other, and we head for the Passport Control, and then the Luggage Claim.

The New Airport is really huge.  It is beautiful indeed, and I am anxious to enter and see everything.  It is already very late.  We are all gathered waiting for our luggage to come, but when my luggage arrives I remember that I have to have it changed.  I have been trying to have the airline pay for it in London, but that never happened.  I am determined to have my luggage changed this time, so when it comes I go directly to the desk and show them that it is already damaged.

I am given a paper to sign in, and I am told that I have to get down to Larnaca with my suitcase and the paper they give me, to have it changed.

I am relieved.  At least I am going back home with a brand new suitcase!

I take a taxi, and get home.  The new airport is just three and a half miles further than the previous one, and my house is just 10 minutes from the airport.  When I reach home I am asked to pay 13 euros.  Is it really so expensive I wondered, or have I been a fool paying so much money!

Hugs and kisses, and a little chat with mum before turning in.

Tomorrow I have so much to do!

I am happy to be lying in my bed at home once again, and happy that I am here.
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