Saturday, September 8, 2012
Greece: The pain behind the beauty
September 8, 2012
Holidaymakers in Greece this summer said the beaches were as lovely as ever and the ancient sites as fascinating as they have always been. But the effects of five years of recession in the country are becoming more and more evident.
I get a little tired after a while of the endless sheet-washing, itinerary-planning and bread-buying but then, living abroad, you come to expect it.
For every summer, my humble apartment in whichever country I am posted, turns into a convenient hotel for friends, family and anybody I may have met at a party years ago, who decides they fancy a free stay.
It can get a little trying but, on the whole, I enjoy showing my guests a new city through my eyes, taking them to my favourite spots. Seeing their reaction is the interesting bit.
And nowhere more so than in Athens.
For months they have watched footage of angry street protests in the capital and heard stories of the impact of austerity. They come expecting the place to look and feel almost like a war zone.
When a visitor of mine this summer told his colleagues he was going to Athens for a few days, one seriously asked whether he would still find food in the shops.
"Where is the crisis?" said a university friend as I took him around the city. "You can't see it."