I have been curious about how Greece is doing, given the economic troubles and the refugee situation. So I was pleased to accompany “he who is tired of being called Mr. France” to a conference in Kifissia, an affluent suburb of Athens.
The short answer is, they are doing as well as can be expected.
You can see that before the downturn gracious old homes were being sold, to be demolished to make way for apartments.
Gracious apartments? No, unfortunately not. Developers were following their usual pattern of squeezing the biggest, cheapest building possible on a lot, preferably with the fewest possible parking spaces. Street parking in this area, even given the number of vacant buildings, is already at a premium. Traffic is already congested. Honestly I hope the squatters who must surely live in these buildings render them uninhabitable, that permits expire and that whatever eventually goes in is scaled for the area, including the area-standard one-lane streets.
It looks like the greedheads lost a round. For everybody else, it’s just plain tough. Good people went under too. Many businesses located just outside prime locations went under and have not been replaced. Many beautiful restaurants went whole meal times with maybe just half a dozen tables filled. I was delighted to find Greek designers with shops alongside the usual Italian and French ones. I was less delighted to be the only customer in many of them. Whatever remains, such as the church and park above, is beautifully maintained.
I’ll let this healthy little guy stand in for the scrawny, barely weaned kitten I fed one lunchtime, so hungry he forgot he was supposed to be feral. He filled up and finally did run away before I could get too serious about rescuing him.
Above is the temple of Hephestos. Many temples and other monuments seem to have been restored as part of philanthropic and academic archaeology programs.
American money built or rebuilt this stoa for use as a museum. These efforts continue, of course. In general I got the feeling that education, philanthropy and tourist money are keeping people coming and ordinary businesses afloat. Tourist places were pretty busy. The rest were either shuttered or just hanging on.
If you can, consider going to Greece. Consider visiting cities and towns, rather than just rushing to the beach. Have a nice stay and throw some money at the locally owned businesses. They need it and there is still a lot to like.