Posts tagged ‘thessaloniki’

What’s new from Greece

A weak earthquake (4,9 Richter) shook Athens awake this morning. The epicenter was 30 Kilometers north of Corinth and there are no reports of any damages.

The centers of Athens and Thessaloniki will be closed to traffic all day to mark the European no-cars day.

According to reports Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air, the two private companies operating in Greece at the moment, are concerned over their losses and plan “austerity measures” of their own. There are unconfirmed rumors that the present Government plans to privatise regional airports. This of course means that usage costs will skyrocket for the airlines which are at the moment pressing the Athens International Airport to lower its fees. Eleftherios Venizelos has in the past been labeled as one of the most expensive European airports and international airlines have also applied for lower fees. In a country that relies heavily on tourism anything that threatens affordable transport acquires larger dimensions. At the same time, remote islands risk staying without means of rapid transport in an emergency.

Greek citizens keep protesting under torrential rain

True to their promise to continue and despite the heavy rain thousands of Greeks gathered again at Syntagma Square in Athens, in front of the Lefkos Pyrgos monument (White Castle translated loosely) in Thessaloniki, in Patras, in Veroia, in Agrinio and other Greek cities to protest against the Greek government’s new measures: cuts in all public services.
The “patriotic” climate favoured the presence of fascists waving Greek flags but they were soon isolated and asked to leave. The same happened when a protester waved a communist symbol.
The decisively non-party orientation of the rallies has baffled the political parties and their members while there are individual voices on Facebook calling party members to participate on their own.
Unfortunately could not find any photos that I like. I shall try to be there tomorrow to bring you more up to date news

Lake Beletsi and the “I don’t pay” movement

Keeping a blog of what is going on in Greece seen from a native’s perspective is becoming more demanding daily. As a journalist in a local newspaper I had a very limited view of everyday activities in the whole of Athens, leave alone Greece. Now, I discover new items everyday and this is exciting and a full time job if done properly.
For example, in my efforts to find out interesting and exciting spots around Athens I drove over to Lake Beletsi. It was mentioned in an article about undiscovered beauty spots around Athens so I decided to visit it and searched my map.

Lake Beletsi Mount Parnitha

Lake Beletsi ( rather a small lake I should warn you) has the honour of being situated on Mount Parnitha. Parnitha was the favourite mountain of the budding nature loving movement, later to be christened “ecological”, back in the late ‘50s –early 60s. Close to Athens and luxuriously green it invited hikers and climbers alike. Later on it became quite notorious as the site of the Mont Parnes Hotel and Casino, the first Casino in Greece.
Lake Beletsi is tiny really but situated in a splendid spot, surrounded by a forest. It boasts a swan (I only saw one anyways), a couple of ducks and geese and an enclosed area hosting some deer rescued by the locals after the fire of 2007. You can feed the ducks and walk in the woods to inhale some fresh air.
On the way back to the south of Attiki, we drove through some scenic routes and finally ended up on the Athens – Thessaloniki highway.
We were surprised to find a very heavy traffic as the day was not a particularly good one: cloudy, cold and rainy. Then we noticed that all the cars around us had their alarm lights on and some of them were hooting without any obvious reason.
Then we saw the tolls and the cars driving through without paying and we understood. It was the weekly protest drive of the inhabitants of Oropos, a seaside resort turned to an Athens suburb, who have to pay tolls 8 times within the limits of one region!! So, they joined the “I don’t pay, I don’t pay” movement and stop people from paying the tolls. The movement, accused by the government of inciting people to disobey laws, has become very popular given the state of the Greek highways: in 2010-2011 alone the Athens Thessaloniki highways was closed for weeks, first because of landslides and then because of flooding. The Athens – Patras highway, to the south, has no dividing fence and is a real death trap. The public, finding themselves paying again and again for goods or services not delivered are quite sympathetic as we witnessed ourselves.

"I don't pay" movement

Our Sunday drive to Lake Beletsi was both educational and dirt cheap!!

The end of a music era – Manolis Rassoulis is no more

Manolis Rassoulis, one of the most popular musicsmiths and  performers of modern Greece was found dead in his apartment in Thessaloniki where he lived for the last 20 years.

A deeply political being, he left Greece during the dictatorship and on his return he performed for some of the greatest composers and wrote lyrics for them. When he started writing his own music and lyrics was the time he was recognized by the people as “one of us”. Lyrics that at first did not make sense touched the Greeks to the heart and his music seems to tickle your toes for a zembekiko. He had no taboos about music – his songs ranged from the political to the comic and were always entertaining.

We shall miss his honest approach at a time when we have to choose between the profane and the pompous.

Yiannis Boutaris: an unexpected victory

Yiannis Boutaris is the new Mayor of Thessaloniki. The second capital of Yiannis Boutaris from the Paratiritis ArgolidasGreece and the biggest city in Macedonia elected the most unlikely of Mayors. 68 year old wine maker Yiannis Boutaris won the recent local elections by a short margin against all probabilities.

Thessaloniki has been electing right wing mayors for more than fifteen years. Yiannis Boutaris is a left wing PASOK voter. He was attacked by the Thessaloniki archibishop Anthimos  and it is not advisable to go against the church in Greece. He wears an earring , three years ago he acquired a  lizard tattoo while he admitted on  television that he has tried drugs in his youth. He has managed to stay dry for 20 years since doing rehab for alcoholism.

A disarmingly straight forward person who gives politics a good name. I wish him the best.