25 February, 2010

Who Attacked Zonar's?

Yesterday there was a big strike all over the Greece and demonstrations were held in many places, evidently. I don't know personally because I was out of Athens from 10 to 5, precisely to be away from the confusion. Not that I wanted to be away, but was given a job to take a group of tourists outside Athens so that they wouldn't see it.

My assignment was completed successfully at 5 o'clock. Then I saw this scene near Syntagma Square, on Panepistimiou Street.

This is Zonar's Caffé under the Attica Department Store.

Most of the stone-topped tables were smashed, grass doors were damaged and broken pieces of glass were scattered around. One employee of Zonar's seemed to be hit on his face. He was holding a white cloth against his cheek and speaking of a group of police officers.

Also white marble slabs of Attica Department Store were damaged too, but much less serious comparing to Zonar's.

I am afraid many incidents like this remained unreported, because journalists were doing strike at the same time (no news on tv or radio, no newspaper).

I presume it was done by unruly demonstrators. We all know the plight of the ordinary working population (which includes Hubby and me) in Greece, but this does not justify vandalism and violence. It is sad and upsetting to see such an unruly act.

22 February, 2010

Public Transport on 24 Feb (Big Strike Day)

On the ΟΑΣΑ website I found information about the public transports disruptions in Athens on 24 February 2010.


ΕΘΕΛ (Λεωφορεία): Στάση εργασίας από έναρξη - 07:30 & από 22:00 - Λήξη βάρδιας.
ΗΛΠΑΠ (Τρόλλεϋ): 24ωρη απεργία.
ΗΣΑΠ: Στάση εργασίας από έναρξη - 10:00 & από 16:00 - Λήξη βάρδιας.
ΜΕΤΡΟ: 24ωρη απεργία.
ΤΡΑΜ: 24ωρη απεργία.
ΠΡΟΑΣΤΙΑΚΟΣ: 24ωρη απεργία.

In English
Bus: No service from the start - 7:30 & again from 22:00 to the end of the day.
Trolley: 24 hour strike
ISAP (Metro Green Line- between Kifissia and Piraeus): No service from the start to 10:00 & again from 16:00 to the end of the day.
Metro (Red and Blue Lines): 24 hour strike
Tram: 24 hour strike
Athens Urban Railways: 24 hour strike

The things may well change in the course of time, so check out the above website before you leave home!

20 February, 2010

Receipt, Please!

One of the new measures introduced by the Greek government to diminish the public debts is to encourage the Greek taxpayers to bring receipts to the tax office when they declare the annual income to get tax reduction or tax return. Otherwise they cannot obtain the reduction that they used to get under the old system.

The legislation is almost retroactive, because the income we are going to declare in May refer to the income of last year, meaning that many receipts are from last year. As very few people are fully prepared to this change (most of us knew it, but the government widened at the last moment the range of receipts the tax-payers can bring in, most of the would-be useful receipts - receipts from supermarket, for example - had already gone to the bin.

Anyway, for this reason, the conscious taxpayers are now collecting receipts for almost anything other than rent or big purchases like house or car. BUT, the likewise conscious family-own shops/restaurants now try not to write receipt more than ever! The big shops or chain restaurants/cafeterias gave/give us always receipts as, in case of big enterprises, the persons who give us receipts do not have direct contact with the executives who are worrying about tax. Problem is more with small enterprises like family own restaurants, bakeries, butchers, fishmongers etc, because they are directly run by those people who declare the profit to the tax office. Obviously they have always declared less than what they actually earned and now they are worrying if they cannot do it anymore, when the customers bring their receipts to the tax office.

Consequently a bakery near our flat, that used to give us always receipts, did not, when I went there a few days ago. I told this story to some friends and found out that they are all experiencing the same phenomenon.

It is annoying if I have to ask for receipt every time I shop and eat, but, alas, I have to do it to save my and the state's economy.

16 February, 2010

What These Pakistani Are Doing?

Going down toward Marina Zea for a coffee, I saw some Pakistani playing...


It was a familiar view when I was living in UK, but in Greece it is a rare sight.

In Piraeus, I cannot say there are so many Pakistani as there are in Birmingham, but still, I know some who work here. Those who I know are very hard workers and friendly guys (I don't see many Pakistani women). Interesting thing is that the Pakistani here look physically a bit different from those I used to know in Birmingham: they are shorter and usually do not have beard or mustache. I wonder if they are from a different region.

And this is a dog I saw at Flocafé in Marina Zea.

He was over-joyed when he found a half-eaten chicken nuggets in paper package. So excited that he was trying to eat the package without noticing the chicken had already fallen off from! Not very clever, I must say. :)

Then I enjoyed a cheese cake with 'kerasi' cherries in Flocafe.

It was Sunday.

Then on Clean Monday, I decided to fast sugar during the Lenten period, without, however, giving up animal protein. I am already suffering from the lack of sugar. Let's see how it goes.

15 February, 2010

Kathari Deftera and Hartaetos

Today, 15 February 2010, was Clean Monday (Καθαρή Δευτέρα) for the Orthodox and holiday for the Greeks. From this day till Easter, the Orthodox are not supposed to eat meat, dairy and egg.

About the Greek customs for this day, I wrote about it last year, so I won't repeat IT.

This year we did not do anything particular, except for the traditional kite flying.

Kite is called hartaetos (χαρταετός) in Greek, meaning paper eagle.

Weather was very fine today and was relatively warm.

It was however quite windy. Many people were trying to fly their kites, but the wind was so strong that it was really difficult to take control of them.

But there were some able guys who were doing it right.

Kite flying

Hubby - inexperienced kite flyer - tried it for a while, but his kite disintegrated in 10 minutes or so.

To be honest, I was not enthusiastic about the prospect of kite flying and started to observe the Peiraiki restaurants. Although not many Greeks observe the Lenten diet any more, everyone - even the non-observers - is eager to eat squids, octopus, and shellfish on this day. For this reason, fish restaurants all over the Greece do great business on Clean Monday and the fish restaurants on Peiraiki coast are no exception.

I noticed two new restaurants opened.

These premises had been restaurants even before, but now they opened with different names: Εν λευκώ and Ανέμες.

Hubby, being a bad loser, wanted to buy another kite, but most of the shops were closed (obviously) and even the open ones had run out of it. Not that I felt pity. :)

14 February, 2010

New Entry: To Nisi @ Piraeus

We went to a psarotaverna called To Nisi (Το Νησί) on Peiraiki coast and I have already written a review!


It was pretty good and we want to return. I just wished they gave us a fiscal receipt!

Τηλ. 210-42 87 217

At Cafe Mente in Valaoritou, Kolonaki

Friday afternoon in a Kolonaki cafeteria, Mente.

Valaoritou Street is full of cafeterias and restaurants cater for shoppers and workers in the area.

Cafe Mente is more for drink than for food: food menu is short.

Cafe Mente

I ordered a single cappuccino (€3.90), with a lovely heart drawing.

Heart Cappuccino

Hubby ordered a culb sandwich (€6.80).

He said it was fine except for that it was already cold when was brought to him. It is a shame, as the place wasn't so busy at that moment.

Another minus point was that the people were allowed to smoke indoor space in this cafeteria. There are many tables outside, but the Greek smokers prefer to smoke in warm indoor (why not?). The waiters willingly provide ash trays for those who want to smoke.

And the receipt.

In Greece the hunt for receipts has started. According to a new law for tax reduction/exemption, those who earn more than the minimum can present receipts to get some tax back. I think this practice is ubiquitous for self-employees but in Greece from this year on even the employeers can do it.

One of the reasons of the change is that in Greece many exercises, like restaurants/cafeterias, doctors, lawyers, do not write receipts and those declear to the tax office much lower income/profits than actually is. The state, not without reason, hope to duely collect the tax from these professionals/exercises.

Good luck for the tax collectors!

10 February, 2010

Grande Bretagne Under Siege

Today there was a strike of public employees, air traffic controllers, teachers etc. Most of the Athenian public transportation was working fine, but the buses and metros were visibly less busy today. I wondered if it was partly because that there are so many public employees in Greece.

By the way, passing Syntagma Square this morning (it should be around 8:15), I saw a bunch of young people occupying the Hotel Grande Bretagne.

Rather curiously, the King George Hotel next door was closed but not occupied, while Athens Plaza next next door was open as usual. Was it because the Grande Bretagne is such an iconic building and is situated closer to the Parliament, or was it because it was seen some how as a symbol of establishment and exploiting capitalists?

While the Greek state is flattering from the world economic crisis, the Greek people keep on putting forward their rights and demands, doing strike, closing roads (farmers) and stopping all the flights within/to/from Greece. When the Asian currency crisis happened, I remember that many Koreans bring their own gold to the government to donate, hoping to contribute to the stability and strength of their currency. I understand this sort of thing will never happen in Greece, but cannot the Greeks be a bit more constructive in dressing their own economic problems?

06 February, 2010

Spartan Club Sandwich

When we visited Sparti in early January 2010, we ate at a local fast food shop called Mr. Doughnuts (it might have been Mr. Donuts; I am a bit hazy on that).

Now, you must be saying in your mind, "You should be insane to go to a fast food shop of such an Americanised name while you are on vacation in Greek countryside!"

Sparta is a pretty large urban centre, but still you are right. It was quite stupid. But there was a reason. Husband had a stomach flu then and could not eat much. Having already eaten lunch in a restaurant, he said he could not bear another meal in a taverna.

That was why we ended up here.

Mr. Doughnuts was on the central square of Sparta and open for 24 hours a day. It was very busy with locals, young and old, men and women. For the Spartan population, it might represent something "American", something "Western" rare to find in that part of Peloponnese. I thought.

We ordered one club sandwich to share.

It find it almost inedible for me. Too greasy from bacon fat and too oily from mayonnaise. But Husband seemed to be enjoying it.

It cost only 4 euros and is probably enough to cover the recommended daily energy intake for a woman of my age. In this sense, it is a good value.

This is the Christmas decoration in front of the Municipality building of Sparta.

It was pretty fantastic.

O Katagounas @ Gerolimenas, Mani

This is the restaurant we stopped at in Gerolimenas, Mani.

Maybe because it was in winter, we could not find any attractive eating place along the road of Mani. We guessed that there should be tavernas in port town and that was why we stopped at Gerolimenas.

Gerolimenas is a small port town on the west coast of Mani. My guidebook says that it used to be a very important commercial port of Mani, but I don't think there aren't any bigger ship than fisherman's boats now.

However, we found several tavernas all open for business. We entered the one that looked least touristic. It was called Katagounas (Ο Καταγκούνας).


As we expected, they did not have written menu. The owner/waiter just dictated what they had. Strangely, they did not have any fish, although it was just in front of the sea. But, it was all right for us.

Hubby being rather sick, we ordered only a few plates.

These are Tzatziki and Singlino.

For the singlino, please refer to Gate to Greece (link above). They are both pretty fine.
And horta. Different from the one we had at Trata in Monenvasia, it tasted fresh and flavorful.

And brizola hirina (grilled pork chop).

Pork Chop

I thought it was over-cooked and rather hard. It wasn't bad, but I can easily find better pork chops in Athens.

But, still, eating in front of the sea is something magical. I can easily go back.