In Egypt headed to Athens on the world cruise …
Good old Heraclitus was right, things are always changing. And it seems the world changes more when I’m off at sea on a ship contract. The last time I was on PACIFIC PRINCESS the US nailed Osama Bin Laden and a Revolution took place in Egypt. This time Libyans nailed the current world enemy number one, the lunatic Muhmar Gadaffi and company. And the revolution emerged not in Egypt, where we would have expected [The Egyptians could have saved a lot of grief and money had they dispatched Mubarak a’la Gadaffi], but in Athens, Greece.
Obviously the Greeks overspent the credit card and now the chickens have come home to roost and the results of years of overspending are hitting full force. And while one must sympathize with every day Greeks who are having to deal with the new austerity, you can’t help but think that the Greeks who have this enormous economic interest in tourism are shooting themselves in the feet by rioting in the streets. Wikipedia claims, “Greece attracts more than 17.5 million tourists each year, contributing 15% to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product. Greece has been an attraction for international visitors since antiquity for its rich and long history, Mediterranean coastline and beaches. In 2005, 6,088,287 tourists alone visited the city of Athens, the capital city.” Not exactly current, but you get the idea.
The last “General Strike”, which wasn’t all that “general”, we did a successful turnaround in Piraeus, moving 650 people from the ship to the airport, and another 650 from the airport to the ship. Time will tell how today goes.
My daughter, Rebecca, flew in a few days early to join me on the ship today. She arrived unfortunately at the height of the strike. So thanks to email . . .
Made it! Whew! Strikes continue the airport was dead- I think we were the only flight that was coming in and apparently the flight yesterday was cancelled. The subway is very limited right now and didn’t go out to the airport so figured out the bus and then how to jump all around the subway lines that were open to figure out how to get to the hostel. But, I’m here now waiting for check-in. Acropolis is closed today due to strikes so tomorrow will be my one big day before joining Dad the next day. But, the bonus of all the strikes is the city is really quiet other than the main square. This evening my only plan is to sit at the rooftop bar, get a drink and enjoy the view of the Acropolis.
Good flight over with a neat older Greek guy who grew up here – family still lives here but, he moved to CA in his teens. Great to get his perspective on all the goings on as well as his suggestions for sightseeing.
Ok, time about to run out for the computer – just wanted to pass on that I’m here and safe 🙂
Love to you all!
Unfortunately the calm did not last . . . later email . . .
Ok, so the quiet did not last…. I wandered over to the strike mid afternoon kept a safe distance but, all was fine. Lots of folks, singing, chanting, food carts, banners… good to see. I went to the Acropolis museum right next to my hostel. As I was in the museum about 10 mins. from the Parliament were the strike was – the gaurds started looking outside- I with them. You could hear shouting. I decided it might be time to walk the 5 mins. back to the hostel and stay put. As I was coming out of the museum that had many 15 people in it- the guards stopped me. It was a good thing too… in front of the museum came what I would now call rioters. They threw make-shift bombs… a double line of police in helmets, shields etc. came after them throwing tear gas. Several folks came seeking shelter in the museum. It quieted down a little so I figured I should get out of there. I walked quickly past the fires that the strikers had set on all the piles of trash (not picked up because of the strike). I seemed quiet… then I looked down the street to see a bunch of police…. down the other street a bunch of strikers…. hell no I wasn’t sticking around. I ducked down a side street and got back to my hostel. From the rooftop of the hostel you could see the acropolis as well as smoke from fires and you could hear yelling. Exciting stuff…. I went out later (needed food) and there were about 100 police lining the street, fire trucks putting out fires and three vans full of rioters we carted off.
They closed the metro right by the strike meaning that when it broke up the nearest Metro was right next to the hostel and museum. Therefore the riot came to fine me. Crazy- this morning all is normal. You wouldn’t have a clue except for the broken windows, traffic lights, paint bombs, etc. here and there. How crazy to spend a day at such an ancient place while such craziness is happening right here and now. Anyway, now things are quiet…. ahhh, good day wandering and exploring! And good food. Might go out for a greek yogurt in just a moment here.
Anyway, didn’t know what might be heard of life in Athens so I figured I’d let you all know I was well.
See you tomorrow Dad!
So life is quiet in Egypt . . . and a riot in Greece. We’ll be sipping strawberry daiquiris tonight in the Pacific Lounge and off to Patmos tomorrow.