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Monday, September 06, 2010

GAZI AND THE FLEA MARKET

The Gazi Gasworks, now a Cultural Centre

The former gas works, Gazi, has become a popular bohemian neighbourhood of Athens in the past few years, since the gas works buildings have been turned into an Arts Centre.  Here is where the annual (May) Jazz Festival is held, concerts, art exhibits etc.  I first visited Gazi a few years ago when they had a remarkable exhibition of paintings of Alexander the Great.  It was formerly called "Gazhori" (Gas Village) and is now the site of popular luxury restaurants, tavernas, and a trendy crowd. It's located near Thission, just behind Monastiraki districts.


On a hillside park right opposite the Gas Works buildings, every Sunday there is a Flea Market that is quite a contrast to Gazi's new artistic ambiance.  I went there Sunday with Carol. It's an experience you should try if you are visiting here -- a bit more crowded and noisy than the one in Monastiraki, with hawkers yelling out their wares, gypsies quarrelling, kids screaming, people jostling up the pathways between the stalls that are strewn with everything from junk to antiques.  You can find anything there: electronics, toys, clothes, old records, books and curios.  Among on the junk you might find some exceptional treasures.  All you have to do is bargain for them.  And Carol, who collects a lot of things from the flea markets, is an expert at that.

Greek Fast Food: Souvlakis
You better watch you purse or wallet in those crowds. There's a lot of seedy-looking characters as well as the local neighbourhood people who come out to buy and browse.  Quarrels break out among the gypsies. Today a gypsy lady with a cart heaped with green grapes approached the crowd of flea market merchants and was yelled at and chased away by another gypsy lady.  Territorial rights or something.  She had to park her cart farther along in the parking lot.  Carol says a few years ago there was  a shoot-out on the street, but now they are more regulated and pay a fee to use the spaces for their wares.  It's a lot different than flea markets or garage sales at home, with more aggressive selling and people crowded together.  There's souvlaki stands and cold drinks for sale if you get hungry or thirsty.  It's an interesting way to spend part of the day on a Sunday even if it's just to take a look at the goods that are on display for sale.  Yesterday I spotted several antique sewing machines, the kind with the little handle you used to turn the needle up and down.  And I've never seen so many old records.  I'm sure among those stacks were some real treasures!


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