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fr8mech
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Some Observations about Greece

Thu Sep 23, 2021 6:40 am

Took a trip to visit my dad in Greece last week. I try to go every year, but of course, last year was a bust.

My time was spent in Athens and some of the suburbs south of Athens, including the old tourist area, Glyfada.

I thought I'd pass on a few observations. Maybe stimulate a little conversation. Maybe not.

The man purse is everywhere. Across all demographics. Love it. Wish it would make its way over here.

Anecdotally, smoking is down, but vaping is up. I saw several storefronts that advertised, in bold letters "STOP SMOKING, START VAPING". I guess it's a start.

It made me happy to see that Americans are not the only folks who harbor belief in the more common conspiracy theories surrounding CoVid, including the "chip in the vaccine" and the "the vaccine alters DNA" goodies.

It looked like most folks didn't have a problem wearing masks indoors, including the Metro.

Speaking of the Metro...wow, take the Metro instead of driving or even walking the streets. It appears that Greek drivers have gotten much more aggressive since I was there 2 years ago. Even my son made comment that the traffic signals appeared to be mere suggestions.

More dogs on leashes, less strays. Seems a reasonable trade-off. Still a whole bunch of stray cats, though.

Full electric cars were almost absent, and not nearly as many hybrids as I expected...and I was looking, since the wife and I will be in the market next year.

Speaking of cars, a lot more American cars than I remember.

Very large police presence around Syntagma Square and the parliament building...very large. We walked around the building and through The National Gardens. Counted 3 trucks/buses that I would consider rapid reaction forces.

They opened exhibits on the South Slope of the Acropolis to visitors. Very nice. The Acropolis Museum is open and required proof of vaccination for entry. The exhibits haven't changed from the last time I was there.

Not nearly as many street peddlers as I've seen in the past. A lot of empty storefronts and stalls on The Plaka and surrounding areas. Restaurants seemed to be doing OK, and from the number of scooters with coolers on their tails, the delivery business is booming.

Quite a few more homeless folks.

The streets are still filthy. Athens is probably one of the dirtiest cities I've ever been in. The suburbs are not a whole lot better.

Two years ago, recycling was a big thing in my dad's district (Elleniko), now, not so much so.

We had to get a CoVid (PCR) test before returning to the States. In typical Greek fashion, there was an unadvertised, tiered price list:
-60 Euros, with a receipt
-50 Euros, cash, without receipt
-85 Euros, cash, with a guaranteed negative result, no receipt

That's all that comes to mind at the moment.
 
JJJ
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Re: Some Observations about Greece

Thu Sep 23, 2021 7:10 am

fr8mech wrote:
Full electric cars were almost absent, and not nearly as many hybrids as I expected...and I was looking, since the wife and I will be in the market next year.


Europe is moving at two speeds on EV adoption - Green Car Reports
https://www.greencarreports.com/news/11 ... v-adoption

There's a whole world of difference between the likes of Netherlands or Germany and Greece and Spain.
 
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Dutchy
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Re: Some Observations about Greece

Thu Sep 23, 2021 1:27 pm

Is there still a lot of civil unrest? Or have things settle down a bit. The last time I was in Greece was about ten years ago. It was at the height of the Greece debt crisis and saw some quite heavy protests. Not following Greece al that much, I am afraid, but still one of the nicest countries to visit.
 
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Braybuddy
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Re: Some Observations about Greece

Thu Sep 23, 2021 10:00 pm

fr8mech wrote:
Speaking of cars, a lot more American cars than I remember.

I'm curious. What cars? American cars are very thin on the ground in Europe. :scratchchin:
 
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fr8mech
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Re: Some Observations about Greece

Fri Sep 24, 2021 12:30 am

Dutchy wrote:
Is there still a lot of civil unrest? Or have things settle down a bit. The last time I was in Greece was about ten years ago. It was at the height of the Greece debt crisis and saw some quite heavy protests. Not following Greece al that much, I am afraid, but still one of the nicest countries to visit.


I didn't notice anything that would have concerned me. I didn't watch any news...except what my dad may have had on. My language skills aren't up to the rapid fire back and forth that Greek talking heads participate in. Yelling at each other is a national past time over there.

Braybuddy wrote:
I'm curious. What cars? American cars are very thin on the ground in Europe


A lot of Jeep Wranglers, mostly late model 2 doors. Ford seemed to have a large presence also. I saw a couple of Ford Pumas. Had to look that up...available only in the European market.

When I say "a lot", I do mean relative to my normal experience in Greece. American cars are still clearly in the minority.
 
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Aesma
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Re: Some Observations about Greece

Fri Sep 24, 2021 9:09 am

The latest we heard about Greece were the massive wildfires in August, unfortunately.

Braybuddy wrote:
fr8mech wrote:
Speaking of cars, a lot more American cars than I remember.

I'm curious. What cars? American cars are very thin on the ground in Europe. :scratchchin:


Yeah the only ones I see here are Teslas. And a few pick-up trucks that people have registered as work vehicles.

The Ford brand has a big presence in Europe but these are European cars, made for the local market, by Ford of Europe. Ford has decided long ago to make "world cars" starting with the Ford Mondeo, and you have the Ford Focus of course, both of these are clearly European cars sold globally, not US cars. Same with the vans, in fact the European vans have replaced the US ones, in the US itself.

You can't really see US cars in the EU as most of them aren't available to purchase. Jeep being the exception.

My country might be a bit ahead of Greece but here a new Wrangler is only available in "4xe" version, the PHEV powertrain. Starting price 70000€, that's a luxury car !
 
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fr8mech
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Re: Some Observations about Greece

Fri Sep 24, 2021 9:20 am

Aesma wrote:
The latest we heard about Greece were the massive wildfires in August, unfortunately.


My father and his caretaker both spoke a little bit about it, but I didn't see any of it, and didn't notice any real talk about it. I do recall my dad saying that he could smell the smoke when the fires were active.

Aesma wrote:
The Ford brand has a big presence in Europe but these are European cars, made for the local market, by Ford of Europe. Ford has decided long ago to make "world cars" starting with the Ford Mondeo, and you have the Ford Focus of course, both of these are clearly European cars sold globally, not US cars. Same with the vans, in fact the European vans have replaced the US ones, in the US itself.


I knew Ford made some cars for the European market, but didn't realize how extensive the operation was.

Aesma wrote:
My country might be a bit ahead of Greece but here a new Wrangler is only available in "4xe" version, the PHEV powertrain. Starting price 70000€, that's a luxury car !


Yeah, I don't recall seeing any of the 4 door models.
 
JJJ
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Re: Some Observations about Greece

Fri Sep 24, 2021 11:47 am

fr8mech wrote:

I knew Ford made some cars for the European market, but didn't realize how extensive the operation was.


Ford's lineup in Europe is almost entirely independent from the US one and made locally (plants in Germany, Spain and Romania, used to have plants in Belgium, Portugal, France and UK as well). They didn't even sell the Mustang here until recently when they figured out they needed a halo model. Ford also makes a lot of commercial vehicles, (including semis) in Turkey

Occasionally European models make it to the US (Fiesta, Transit, I believe the Focus was a European model first)
 
leader1
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Re: Some Observations about Greece

Fri Sep 24, 2021 4:58 pm

My mother's from Greece and most of my relatives on that side still live there. I used to spend my summers there when I was growing up and I've been back a few times since then, but it's been a little while since my last visit. You bring up some interesting points.

Growing up, I remember homelessness not being that big of a problem there. And it seemed to be the case until after the financial crisis, when things fell apart. Prior to the financial crisis, I would have considered Greece a country on the rise and it seemed to be headed in the right direction. Athens was becoming more modern in the run-up to the Olympics. And they finally built a new airport. Anyone remember the old Athens airport? What an embarrassment! No jet-bridges! I do have some nostalgia of it, though. My cousin lived in Glyfada and his place had a pretty good view of the airport and it was cool watching the planes take-off and land from that vantage point.

Funny you mention caretakers. Let me guess, but is your father's caretaker from one of those former Soviet Republics? My aunt and uncle had two caretakers from one of those countries - I forget which one - and it seems quite common over there.

I will also say that the Greek healthcare system is a disaster. Greeks live a long time, thanks to their lifestyle, but once they get to the hospital, it's over. My aunt and uncle both died from infections they got at a hospital.

And the economy there is a mess and I don't think that has changed any. One cousin moved to Rome of all places for better opportunities. The other went to Germany and then came back and seems to be bouncing around from low-end job to low-end job and he's in his 40s and has a Masters degree from one of the best universities in Athens. Up until the financial crisis, there was a reverse brain drain, now the brain drain is out of control.

And speaking of cars, it seemed like everyone was driving a Renault back then.

Oh, and you can't forget those Greek terrorist groups that name themselves after specific dates on a calendar. Only in Greece...
 
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fr8mech
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Re: Some Observations about Greece

Sat Sep 25, 2021 1:23 am

leader1 wrote:
I used to spend my summers there when I was growing up and I've been back a few times since then, but it's been a little while since my last visit.


I was born in Greece, but my family emigrated from Greece when I was an infant. I spent every summer from when I was 5 to 17 in Greece. I've been there a dozen or so times since then.

leader1 wrote:
Growing up, I remember homelessness not being that big of a problem there. And it seemed to be the case until after the financial crisis, when things fell apart.


I'm not so sure. I was in Greece in 2015, 2018 & 2019, I didn't see very much homelessness at all. Certainly not to the level I saw it this time around.

leader1 wrote:
Athens was becoming more modern in the run-up to the Olympics


I was there in the Spring of 2004. Athens was certainly cleaner. Probably the cleanest I had ever seen it.

leader1 wrote:
My cousin lived in Glyfada and his place had a pretty good view of the airport and it was cool watching the planes take-off and land from that vantage point.


We spent our summers on the other side of the airport in Argiroupoli. Back then, I had an unobstructed view if the approach end of 15L&R. If Google Maps is to be believed, just a hair over 3/4 mile to the threshold of 15L. Quite a sight when they were landing to the south.

leader1 wrote:
Funny you mention caretakers. Let me guess, but is your father's caretaker from one of those former Soviet Republics? My aunt and uncle had two caretakers from one of those countries - I forget which one - and it seems quite common over there.


I call them care-takers, but they're just a husband and wife that live one floor up. They do take care of his needs, cooking, cleaning shopping, etc, and we do pay them, but they have other work they do. He did have an Albanian woman that took care of him for a bit.

leader1 wrote:
I will also say that the Greek healthcare system is a disaster.


I won't even get into that. My experience with the National Health System is largely limited to how my mom's illness was handled leading up to her death.

leader1 wrote:
the economy there is a mess


I haven't been exposed enough, nor versed enough in the Greek economy to speak educated on the subject. But, relative to where I live, KY, food is cheaper, utilities more expensive, fuel prices are out of control (well, not really, they've always been about 250% of what we pay here), rents seems lower, but so are wages.

I'd like to also mention another thing that I noticed between my earlier visits and this one. Internet access. My dad doesn't have wifi, but I piggy back onto the caretaker's service (WIND). It's slower than what I'm used to, but it used to be stable. Never had an issue. This time around, it kept dropping off, and was much slower. I suspect it's an issue with the load that has been added to the system without any upgrade to the infrastructure during the pandemic.

Since I had my son with me, and he was expected to complete some schoolwork while he was there, I purchased a 5 day plan with Cosmote, and that was even worse. I wound up getting a refund due to the unreliable service. Again, I think there hasn't been enough investment in the infrastructure to make up with the added load.
 
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Aesma
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Re: Some Observations about Greece

Sat Sep 25, 2021 11:23 am

Greece got the bad sides of the Euro without the good ones. Well they got the good ones (cheap credit) but that wasn't a good thing, it was used to pay for things it couldn't afford. In 2015 after having put Alexis Tsipras in power they should have left the Euro (not the EU). Sure after that there would have been no way to have a social-democrat agenda for some time, but at least the economy could have seen a boost, and the EU could have helped with the corruption issues etc., but with people seeing an end to the tunnel. If I was Greek I would have left too...

Now that doesn't absolve all the people who use corruption to get ahead, who don't pay their taxes, etc.

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