Thursday, September 16, 2010

Observations from Athens, Greece

Over the past 20 days I have observed a lot about the culture and atmosphere that surrounds Athens, Greece. Here are some things that I have found interesting while studying and living here.

1.) Death Sidewalks- BE CAREFUL!
Most of Athens is on an incline. Walking uphill and downhill can both be equally dangerous. Why would the sidewalks be dangerous? Sidewalks in Athens are made of individual tiles that are placed side by side to make a surface to walk on. These tiles can get VERY slippery, especially while walking uphill or downhill. Also, just because it is a sidewalk does not mean that only pedestrians will be on it. Often mopeds, bicycles, and stray dogs take up large parts of the sidewalk. Just because it is a sidewalk, does not mean a moped will not run you over. You always have to be cautious while walking on the sidewalks.

2.) Stray Dogs
Before coming to to Greece, I read that there are stray dogs everywhere in the city. I expected to find some dogs, but not the amount that I found when I got here. There are huge dogs everywhere around the city. There are huskies, labs, and boxers throughout the city, whether it be at the Agora, the flee market, or the metro station. There is a group that goes around the city putting collars on the dogs, feeding them, and tracking them. If a dog is found without a collar it is simply put down because there are just so many stray dogs in Athens.

3.) Small cars
The roads in Athens are mostly one-ways with cars parked on both sides with a narrow line in between for driving. Whenever I take a taxi I have to hold my breath the whole time we are sliding past the cars on both sides. It is so scary to someone who is not from here. The people just drive like it is no big deal. The cars have to be compact in order to squeeze through the streets and take the corners. So far the longest/biggest car I have seen was a jeep liberty. What I consider to be a short car in the United States, stands out as a big car in Athens.

4.) Everyone here smokes
There are warnings that take up the entire pack of cigarettes, yet everyone here still smokes. The second day we were in Athens, the government actually passed a law banning smoking in bars, restaurants, etc. Much like when the law was initially passed in the U.S., people are not following it. People smoke in restaurants, cafes, bars, the beach, the metro stations, concert halls, nightclubs, EVERYWHERE! It is so weird to go from a country were smoking is not widely accepted to a country where you are not accepted if you do not smoke.

More Observations on the way!

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