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Tuesday, September 07, 2010


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Graffiti on a Plaka street.

I've been shocked, on this visit to Athens, to see the excessive amount of graffiti and rubble around the city.  A small amount of the graffiti may be political slogans, but most of it is simply defacement of property -- and in this case, many of the buildings defaced are the lovely neo-classical buildings that ought to be declared protected as historical sites.  Yesterday I was aghast to see that the front of the Melina Mercouri museum in Plaka was marred by spray painting.  And on any blank wall or fence you see these ugly markings left by roving vandals.  It's time that strict laws were proclaimed (and obeyed!) here in regards to vandalism.  But, knowing the Greeks, it's hard to get them to abide by laws. Just look at what is happening on their fourth try to prohibit smoking inside restaurants.  Even the restaurant owners (who all smoke) are against it!

As for the rubble, a certain amount of it is the archaeological digs around town that are fenced off and usually labeled.  But there are a lot of old houses and buildings that have gone into decay and fallen into ruin.  Sometimes this is because of estate disputes and sometimes it is left over damage from the bad earthquake there was a few years back. 

Of course, the sidewalks are another story and most of them will remain that way forever.  (They've been like that for at least the last 30 odd years I've been frequenting the city).  So you learn to put up with it.  You just have to learn to watch your step.

And people!  Why do you insist on wearing improper footwear when climbing the slippery and uneven marble stairways in the archaeological sites? It never fails to amaze me to see the number of tourist women in inappropriate shoes trying to make their way up and down.  These pathways can be treacherous.  Hundreds of years of feet walking on the marble has made it slippery as ice.

I guess this is my 'rant' for today but after yesterday's walk-about and seeing all that ugly defacement of buildings and walls it made me angry and I'm just about ready to write a letter to Athens News, not that it would do much good.  But it is disappointing to see the beautiful buildings in this city so destroyed by idiots with spray-paint cans!

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