It has been a little over 2 weeks since I moved over to Athens, Greece. I have about 3 weeks left here, but I’ve already learned a lot about the Greek culture and local lifestyle! My goal for living at new countries month-to-month is to really immerse myself in each place’s way of living.
I’m currently staying at an AirBnB with 3 other AWESOME girls (from France, Slovakia, and Czech Republic), and I have been loving life. Each day has been a new adventure, though I’m trying my best to have less fun and get more work done, lol!
Me in Monastiraki, which is basically the city center
Daily Life in Athens
I wanted to talk about my daily life in Athens, Greece and some of my first impressions of the city. My perspectives may change as time progresses, but we shall see!
1. The Alphabet = WTF?
Once I landed in Greece, I was lost trying to figure out what stop I needed to arrive at for my AirBnB. When I got on the bus and looked around for maps and schedules I realized everything was written in Greek letters! It all looked like gibberish. (Fortunately, someone helped me out!)
One of my goals for the month will be to familiarize myself with the Greek alphabet.
2. Crazy Drivers, Everywhere
My flatmates warned me that the drivers don’t give a shit. When pedestrian signs turn green, you’ll still need to look around in fear of oncoming traffic. On the same note, a lot of pedestrians don’t give a shit either. Jaywalking is present, everywhere.
3. The Buses Take Their Time
The buses don’t give a shit either! They like to decide when they want to arrive. One time we waited at our stop for at least 30 minutes, not knowing when the next bus would come. There’s not really a set schedule, which can be pretty annoying.
4. People Rarely Seem to Check Metro or Bus Tickets?
You’re supposed to purchase transportation tickets and insert them in the ticket reader – however, it seems like nobody does it. I’ve seen the same thing happen in Prague…it’s kind of a strange sight to see everyone just walk by. Again, no fucks given.
5. People Are Kind
I was quite wary at first because I heard there were many pickpockets in Athens. I wasn’t sure how friendly people would be. Though one should still stay extremely careful, I’ve encountered many warm, helpful people so far. People would ask if I needed help when I looked lost. And when I checked out the Saturday farmer’s markets, I was worried the locals would gyp me because I didn’t understand the Greek language. However everyone I encountered was honest and considerate – one of the workers even told me to keep the red onions I had picked out, for free!
6. The Economy…Still Going to Shit?
Maybe I’m wrong, but I’ve noticed that many shops and restaurants open at noon or later! And one time, my flatmate and I headed to the metro to find all trains were down. I discovered that metro workers will go on strike to protest WORKING…and apparently this happens quite frequently. My flatmate also told me that sometimes restaurants will close between 3-6, just to take a break. If times are like this, I don’t see the economy improving anytime soon! UPDATE: The more I talk to locals the more I think this might not be true. There are many sides to this story – one local told me that the metro workers have many reasons to go on strike for, and another local I know is planning to work 7 days a week 8-12 hours a day (as a bartender). I’ll have to keep investigating!
7. Things Are Quite Affordable
The cost of living is definitely cheaper than that of back home. When I first arrived, I purchased 10 bags of fruits and vegetables for only 5 euros! And I was shocked to buy their traditional souvlakis (meat, garnishes, sauces wrapped with a pita bread) for only 2 euros. I also came across this ridiculous 25 shots for 10 euros sign:
What is this?!
KIND of ridiculous. Of course, different regions of Athens will sport different price ranges. For example a cocktail in Exarcheia may cost around 3-4 euros, but a cocktail in Gazi might cost around 8 euros. But either way it is still cheaper than San Francisco, where drinks would average around 12 euros or more.
8. There is a Lot of Graffiti
I’m not going to lie. Usually when I think of Europe, I think beautiful architecture, narrow streets, and overall amazing views that can’t be seen in the United States. But when I landed in Athens my initially thought was “wtf is this…”
But my perspectives have already shifted. I’m now vibin’ with this ‘ugly but beautiful’ look it reps! And many parts of Athens are quite gorgeous – you just need to find them. I’m fortunate enough to have met friends who’ve shown me its beauty.
9. It is Extremely Hot!
In July, temperatures will start to become unbearable. Make sure you book an accommodation with air conditioning (I failed at making sure of this), and make sure you wear sunscreen.
I am extremely prone to mosquito bites, and mine get HUGE when I get bit. As I type this, I have at least a dozen on my legs. Put on repellent when possible!
10. Greek Men…Hmm…
I shouldn’t be generalizing, but the men I’ve come across are quick to compliment and go from charming to creepy in about 30 seconds. Must watch out!
My Thoughts on Athens So Far
For now, I think the best way to describe Athens is “no fucks given”. It’s kind of awesome and terrible at the same time. Maybe this perspective is not so good for the economy, but it’s also a lifestyle that more people need to try out. People here like to live in the moment, whereas most people where I’m from like to dwell on the past and plan for the future. But ultimately, the present is really all we have – so I’m diggin’ this Greek life! It’s been amazing so far, and I’m excited to see more of what Greece has to offer.