Thursday, June 30, 2011

Couchsurfing in Athens, Greece

Hello friends,
I made it to Athens and 3 days ago.  I said good-bye to Jule and I am now on my own for this last month of my trip.  My host is Constantinos.  He specializes in special wall applications using italian stucco.  He studied this technique in Italy and now has his business in Athens.  One of the first things he said to me was there is one rule in this house.  "There are no rules and treat this home as your own."  Constantinos is a quiet, and soft spoken personality but it makes it more fun when I can make him laugh at my silly antics.
He made me feel comfortable right away and I felt safe in his house.  He said he wants to make sure of one thing.  It is important for him that I feel comfortable.  He gave me his bedroom with the big bed and he slept in his office with a small single bed.

I was hesitant to go to Athens because of all of the conflict going on with the people and the government.  There was an anti-government protest in Athens against the new austerity program.  This program is worth 28 billion dollars and will include an increase in taxes and severe budget cuts.  The polls state that 70-80% of the greek population oppose this new austerity plan.  In conjunction with this protest there was a transportation strike that halted the majority of public transportation.  There were almost no trains and buses for the two days of the protest.

When I toured the city, the locals and the information center said I will be safe because the protest has nothing to do with the tourists.  I was told to stay away from the Parliament area because that is where the protests and the severe conflict is centralized.
Because there were no buses and very few trains, my host arranged for his friend to take me to the city centre while I am here and he would take me home at the end of the night.

My host and his house

living room

His friend, Lekas Vasilis has been picking me up to drop me off in the city centre since there are no buses into the city due to the strike. 


Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthereus

The Theater of Dionysus is an open aired theater which is one of the oldest in all of Athens.  There were festivals held here in honor of Dionysus, the god of wine and the patron of drama. 

The Propylaea

The Erechtheum

The Parthenon

New Acropolis Museum

Archeological remains underneath the New Acropolis Museum

Hadrian's Arch

Temple of Olympian Zeus

Unleaded gas is 1.67 per liter ( 1 gallon is 3.79 liters) = $6.33 per gallon!!!!!  

Classic greek moussaka with eggplant: This is a layered dish of eggplant, spiced minced meat, topped with a creamy bechamel sauce and then baked.  It reminds me of a greek version of lasagna.  

The area of Plaka in Athens is filled with restaurants, bars and cafes and filled with tourists.  Acropolis is in the Plaka area. 

My host, Constantinos

Flisvos Marina

Constantinos makes me dinner:  Orzo pasta with greek yogurt, tomato sauce with greek herbs

potato saganaki

pieces of beef with zucchini and eggplant


Monastiraki metro station

Hadrian's Library

Streets of Monastiraki

Temple of Hephaistos

I was told that as long as I stay away from the Parliament, I will be safe and okay.  Well, I traveled to Monastiraki to see the Athenian Agora and Hadrian's Library.  The violence was escalating on the second day of the protest and as I was getting out of the metro station, there were hundreds of people with white cream on their faces and gas masks.  They were chanting loudly and I my eyes started to water.  There were remnants of some sort of chemical from the tear gas that  floated in the tunnels.  It's like nothing I have seen before.  When I went to see the ruins of Agora, the chanting started to get louder and I could here guns firing which sounded like shotguns.  I think it was the tear gas sounds being fired.  It started getting louder and closer.  I was pretty scared.  I knew about the protests but didn't know what was going on.  Everyone said the protesters were not supposed to come to my area.  The protest escalated and the people were angry.  The workers at Agora locked me and the other tourists inside the gate.  They said it would be safer if we stayed inside because they were not sure what the protesters were going to do next.

I was talking to many locals and they said that the police are now dressing up in black, covered masks and attacking the police station.  They are doing this so the police can have a reason to attack the protesters.  Many people got hurt and even killed yesterday.  There were women and children and normal people that were getting beat down with batons.  Things settled down in the evening after a couple of hours.  I was only locked in the gates of Agora for a little bit.  I was always free to go but it was not advised to leave until the commotion settled.

I later met my host and he asked me if I wanted to see if there was anything else going on with the protesters.  We tried going to another metro station but there was so much chemicals and gas that my eyes started to dry up and burn a little.  We decided to leave.

It's hard to get a full grasp considering I am only on the outside looking in at a distance.  It really does make me appreciate what freedom really is in the United States.  The greek locals that I spoke to felt this will not make a difference. They still have to be heard and people have to know of the injustice even if it risks their lives and possibly bodily injury.  

Protester with his gas mask

This pharmaceutical white cream was put on their face to prevent any harm to their skin from the tear gas.  

Pastitsio:  Baked mediterranean dish with pasta, bechamel sauce and meat

Agora at night

protesters hanging out by the metro station hours after the violent demonstration


  1. who is that guy? I am a couchsurfer in Athens, yet I don't know him. He looks interesting

    1. I am new to couch surfing and have always stayed in Hotels - I enjoy people and would like to get a beter /real feel of the people and culture experience. I will be in Athens and the Cyclades Island from 9 June to 23 June 2014 any help and advice will be highly appreciated. Please sent email to : Subject ATHERNS Many Thanks Marie Slabbert Portwig

  2. He is in Athens under Constantinos_K