Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Perfect Timing in Athens

I just got back from vacation. Or ‘vaca’ as I’ve taught my Indian colleague. Or 'holiday' as the brits would say. Whatever you want to call it….. All I have to say is Woohoo! Ten days in Greece and Turkey with good company, sun, scenery and a little R&R. Just what the doctor ordered.

Nicole flew to Athens from Seattle and I came from London. Our flights landed within 15 minutes of each other and we met up without a hitch. Oh, except that the day before I left I came down with a cold which means I spent the entire trip coughing, sneezing and medicating. Perfect timing. Sort of like last time when Nicole and I met in London for a vacation and my bags didn’t make it. Oh, or the time we met in the Rome and my flight was delayed by five hours.

We spent the first day in Athens before heading to the Greek Islands. While the downtown area near our hotel was an over-crowded graffiti-ridden area, I really loved the Parthenon and nearby sites of the ancient city.

If there's graffiti everywhere, at least try to use it as a fun background?

The most memorable part of the trip was the walk back from the Parthenon to our hotel. The day we were in town, there were huge protests against the Greek government’s cost-cutting austerity measures. I later read that the day we were in Athens, there were 40,000 protesters.  Again...perfect timing. While we avoided the protesters around the Parliament building during the active demonstrations, we passed by the general area on our walk back to the hotel.  Out of nowhere, Nicole’s throat turned scratchy and my eyes wouldn’t stop watering. It got worse as we continued walking. Then it dawned on us - we were walking through an area that had been tear gassed. And let me tell you, it was pretty painful. My eyes were red and watery for a good 30 minutes. I really can't imagine how painful it must be in the thick of a tear gassing. I would have fled the areas as soon as humanly possible. Guess that's what it's for.

Police lined up in front of the Parliament building 

The Aftermath: Garbage cans flipped over and on fire 

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