Fun fact: Greece’s official name is the Hellenic Republic.
Firstly, I enjoyed my time in Athens; I was there for a short break to celebrate turning 30. I celebrate hard when it comes to my birthday, and this was my second trip of the month.
For those of you who do not know, Greece suffered a serious debt crisis over a decade ago. This was caused by Greece changing their currency to the Euro in 2001. You should be aware that Greece had been an EU member since 1981 but could not enter the Eurozone (currency) due to its high budget deficit which did not fulfil the Eurozone’s Maastricht Criteria.
As with other EU member states, Greece enjoyed the power of the Euro. However, in 2004 Greece admitted it had lived regarding its budget deficient to allow them to join the Euro. However, no sanctions were imposed because France and Germany were spending above the limit as well, no one was sure what sanctions to apply because expelling Greece would weaken the Euro. Lastly, the EU wanted to strengthen the power of the EU to encourage other EU states who had not adopted the Euro to adopt it. As a result, Greece’s debt continued to increase until it erupted in 2009 and the effects of the crash could still be felt when I was there in 2017.
Until I came to Greece, I did not realise how things were for them. I didn’t notice the pain the locals were suffering ad the effects it had on their infrastructure.
One of the things I noticed the most was graffiti, there was graffiti everywhere in places you would not expect. There was a street by my hotel which was completely covered in graffiti, and it made me sad. I could not understand why a building would have so much graffiti, but as my eyes upwards, I noticed that it was derelict, and so were the surrounding buildings. I also noticed on one side of the street there are derelict buildings but on the other side well kept buildings, it was astonishing.
The main graffiti I noticed was “wake up” scrawled across buildings, I do not understand, nor can I pretend to. What I believe is that it is telling people to wake up to what is happening around them.
Greece I feel for you.
However, there is one issue which annoyed me, I was constantly being told, I have a black friend like you. I have a black friend. They are the same colour as you. You look like my black friend. This is not an exaggeration, it happened at least four times a day, and it was very tiring. I am happy they have a black friend but to be frank I don’t need to know, it adds no value to my experience but takes away.
Would I go back? Yes
Why? There is more of Greece I need to see outside of Athens.