greece

Living in modern Greece

Life in Greece, like almost everywhere in the world, has is a big difference between living in the big city life and provincial life. The most Greek cities you will find that they have become more impersonal. The sense of neighbourhood that existed before the 1970’s has been destroyed due to the construction and preference for families to exchange their small plot with one storey family home to several architects or building companies for a floor with 2 or 3 small apartments in a an apartment block, therefore in its place have mushroomed street after street of apartment blocks. Although, many members of the same family may occupy one block the closeness and neighbourliness that was prevalent before has all but vanished. That fashion of exchange the old house with the small garden the well and the jasmines ,for one or two apartments in a block, has been immortalized in many old Greek movies that makes the older ones to retrieve nostalgic memories of a life that is gone for ever .

 

Most families also own at least one car and usually two or three. Little planning was given to parking facilities when the apartment blocks were built with the result that the streets double as a parking lot. No longer do you see children playing in the street and mothers sitting outside their front doors, chatting to their neighbours, whilst keeping an eye on their children. Today, in the cities, children are catered for by the provision of “platies” pleasant squares in every barrow. However, smaller children can only safely go there if an older child or adult accompanies them. Having said this, the squares do act as focal points for the local populace. Usually surrounded by cafeterias, bars and fast food outlets, they are a place for young people to meet and parade.

The traditional kafenion (Cafe), the place where older men in particular would meet up for ouzo or coffee and a game of backgammon have almost disappeared. They are now relegated to the back streets of neighbourhoods and can be quite difficult to find. For a taste of what Athens used to be like before these changes watch one of the old black and white Greek films made in the 1950s and 1960s. Watching one of these films the first thing that strikes you after you have got over the lack of traffic on the roads, the clear unpolluted atmosphere and the smallness of the cityscape, is the simplicity of the life and the much lower standard of living than that which Greeks enjoy today.

 

For the Greeks in the big cities the jolly outing starts on Friday and Saturday night mostly in Restaurants ,and later on (the younger ones) in cinemas ,bars clubs or live music shows. Sundays are the best for daily excursions in the country side with a traditional lunch at a Greek Tavern with grilled lamb and kokoretsi or fresh fish with ouzo and meze if they are in a seaside resort. Sunday is also a great day for the football fans with a day in the football stadium especially if is a big much between their local team and a guest team. The Greek television though ,unfortunately has taken over the 30% about of the life of an average Greek .

For shopping the Greek family in the city will mostly buy their weekly provisions from huge supermarket and department store chains   like in the rest of Europe. Instead of the local green grosser that is disappearing slowly in the city the Greeks will buy their veggies and fruits from the local weekly market  that is displayed in various neighbourhoods .Clothing shopping has not yet conquered by the multinational department stores in Greece and is still held by many small fashion boutiques along the high street of every barrow. Instead the household shopping ,DIY ,furniture ,electronics ,and hard ware has slowly take over from big multinationals

Arguably, there are two reasons for the change in city life of Greece. Firstly, today, around one third of the population live in Athens. This demographic change first began in the 1950s with economic push/pull factors. The villages and provinces, at this time, gave few opportunities for employment for young people; the way of life was hard and difficult when compared to Athens. Secondly, especially today, the increase in living standards has played a role in alienating people from each other. Having more consumer durables and luxury items to buy has meant that people need to work longer hours, often in two different jobs, in order to pay for these things.

The young adult generation in their twenties and thirties are impeccably turned out. Extremely fashion and label conscious. Young men want and buy the latest top of the range expensive car and/or motorbike. These then become status symbols that assist them in their parade around the squares – with expensive sound systems installed in their cars to ensure that they are noticed. There has developed a certain snobbery about living in the city, especially Athens, as if by doing so you are automatically more sophisticated, more intellectual, more educated. Yet nearly every Athenian citizen has a family and their roots either on an island or somewhere in the Greek countryside of the mainland and, in the summer especially in August, they flock back ‘home’ like migrating birds for the celebration of Panagia (Holy Mary) in the 15th of August. just like they do in the Greek Easter holidays.