Athens Central Market
The Athens Central Market is the largest and oldest farmer’s market in Europe. The market itself has different sections such as the fish, meat, and produce sections and it is surrounded by permanent shops selling items ranging from pets to spices.
Walking into the meat market is something I’m not likely going to forget anytime soon. Picture rows and rows of meat and carcasses hanging from each booth and vendors covered in blood. And if you’re an American female walking through the market, watch out. I soon discovered who the real meat was in the meat market-me. Nearly every single vendor I walked past whistled, cheered, hugged, took a picture with, or just grabbed me. Luckily, I was forewarned that this would happen, so I wasn’t too taken aback.
The rest of the markets were less intrusive and the fruit market was vibrant and beautiful. The market, I think, truly captured the bustling culture of Athens.
Lately, with Greece being in the international news, people have been weary to go to Greece, let alone the capital city of Athens. The fear of unrest and protest has been high. However, from my experiences, I must say that there is nothing to be frightened of.
The evidence of a troubled economy is there, yes. The streets are broken and graffiti covers everything. Nothing is sacred, not even statues. Beggars and homeless people sit in the streets, but it’s no more severe than an average large city.
As far as protests go, I only had a couple of experiences, and I stayed only a couple blocks away from Syntagma Square. On one occasion, I was walking through the square in front of my apartment and a group of probably 20 dressed in all black and masks started chanting. Needless to say, I went inside. It was a little intimidating, but not violent. Another protest I witnessed was in Syntagma Square. A group of around 100 on bikers were sitting in front of the capital. I asked them what they were doing. They had been driving their bikes around Athens in form of protest all day.
Despite this unrest, Athens still holds an old charm. There are still old neighborhoods that hold an age. Colorful flowers still flow out of windowsills and balconies.
Athens is a mixed city of emotions to be sure, but not one that should be feared.