Omonia in Athens, a very lively neighborhood. Not because of the tourists and souvenir shops here, as in the quarter around the must-see Acropolis (which I visited too of course, but an area where, according to my tourist guide, “the Athenians do their shopping.” And that is quite true. Besides the Greeks many immigrants are living in this neighborhood, and they have their own streets and shops. I like it, the feeling that I get a look into the life of the local people.
At the end of October I have been in Athens for 10 days. My very first morning I have been for a walk in this district. Maybe I was not the only tourist there, but fortunately, I have not heard any Dutch and I enjoyed feeling myself anonymous. It is late October and 27 degrees, enjoy it!
The neighborhood is very diverse:
- First of all the Omónia Square itself, with demonstrations regularly held here
- TheKotziás Square, with town hall, excavations and bank buildings.
- The streets where the immigrants are living
- The streets with local shops
- The covered markets
My stay was in a very simple small hotel in the Odós Pireos, a relatively big road. Every night I had my regular dinner spot, where I was eating souvlaki.
Kiosks everywhere, where you can buy beer, soft drinks and water. Unfortunately no wine for me. However, 1 block away, the Carrefour supermarket. A big advantage if your hotel is in a normal residential area. My hotel was very modest, but I had an old refrigerator in my room!
the “Square of the Unification”. The oldest square in Athens. Many streets come here together. Demonstrations are regularly held here. I noticed that many policemen were walking around. Not that anything was happening, when I was there.
Pretty much traffic around the square. Wide pavements with newspaper kiosks, cobblers, lottery tickets vendors and kiosks with soft drinks and beer. There are no closing times, life goes on until late in the night .
Via the Odós Athinas, with trees on both sides of the street. Also here many stalls with toys and watches.
Now I arrive at the Platía Kotziás, which has a much more modern look. But if you look better, you can see that old and new here state side by side. The square had an important role during the 2004 Olympic Games, for various events.
The Town Hall, dating from 1872, the Mayor lives on a the 1e floor.
Excavations, Acharnian Road and tombs, without booklet I never would have noticed it.
Also here many policemen on the street. The major Greek banks, such as Bank of Greece, Alpha Bank.
Old fashioned public telephones, In the Netherlands you don’t see them anymore .
Monument to the ‘last Drachma’. Founded when the euro was introduced. We won’t discuss the fact if the Drachma should or should not return in Greece.
Kiosk with old fashioned cassette tapes, ancient Greek music. € 5.00 each. It was not so busy, it says something?
The immigrants quarter, “Dubai Shopping Center”
The Odós Menándrou, a totally different world. Chinese shops, Pakistani shops and even a “Dubai Shopping Center”. By no means it resembles the modern malls in Dubai. Maybe the owner left Dubai long ago and he only knows the old shops in Bur Dubai and Deira?
Some further a long line of people standing in front of a fence, that would open soon. Curious as I am, I already hurried to come there with my camera, because here was apparently something special. A very friendly Greek boy warned me not to show my camera, because the people did not like it all, it might even happen that they would destroy my camera.
The queue turned out to be homeless or at least less fortunate people, the house behind the fence was a kind of municipality center, where free food would be distributed. A bit distressing, after those alleged luxury of Dubai. So I have only made (blurry) zoomed photos of the people in the queue, from very far away.
After these quiet streets I arrived at the Odós Evripídou, with only Greek shops, and heavy traffic. On the way to the market halls. On the square all of a sudden more tourism, or at least many terraces, with a western look. I did not want to sit there for the moment, after my walk through the authentic streets.
The market halls
You can already see them, the market halls, Kentriki Agorá, built in 1880. From outside it resembles the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. But inside it turned out to be totally different. No clothing, no vegetables, no souvenirs. The market halls are real markets, only meat or fish are traded. Outside, on the street, all sorts of stalls with nuts, cheese, honey, etc. The meat is boned on the spot. They were smiling because I was making so many pictures.
I had my luch in the market hall. A small stall, where I was sitting cozy between the Greeks. A bowl of delicious snacks and a Greek beer, € 3,90 all together. Also here pictures, I liked it very much, sitting here between the local people.
My first morning in Athens was already very very successful!
Have you also been there? Did you like it?