I just finished Skype call with my friend Vojta who is right now in Greece. He’s there for the first time and it is his second day there with his girlfriend. Sorry for grammatical mistakes. I’ve tried to push the article as soon as possible.
Hey Vojta, how you doing? What is the situation in Athens, Greece?
Hi, I am only in Athens right now. One Czech guy who was traveling to visit his sister and her husband told us that the biggest crisis is in the capital – Athens. Government workers are affected. Athens have a population of 3 million and there are many government workers here.
What is happening there right now?
I don’t see here any bigger tensions. I only saw few graffiti or posters saying: “Vote NO.” You can see a line of people waiting in front of ATMs from time to time, but I also saw ATMs with no lines. I think it won’t be that hot like news report it.
How are the government workers affected?
Greece has a shortage of Euro and if the state won’t have cash, it won’t be able to pay wages its employees.
All sights here are charged, but we don’t need to pay for it because we are students. It’s a big advantage. There are 5 government workers in front of every entrance, which are just chilling there. I think their work could be done with fewer number of people. There is a lot of Greeks in the public sector. I’ve heard around 800,000 or 900,000 people work for goverment. There is a lot of them here in Athens.
Did you noticed some problems with transportation?
We didn’t. Only thing which “hit” us was free subway which connects all parts of Athens. It has many stations and serves as reliable and comfortable form of transportation.
Why is the subway for free?
Because there is a shortage of gasoline, I’ve heard and that’s why the government made public transportation for free. I don’t know why there is not enough gas. Maybe it’s because of the fact that other countries stopped sending it because they are afraid Greeks will not pay for it.
Athens are not like Prague, Dresden or Munich. It’s a city more similar to Istambul or other southern cities in Europe. There is a lot of mess on the streets, many homeless people, and beggars. There is a lot of empty buildings around Acropolis also. It’s not a perfectly clean city.
Some people here sell souvenirs. There was a big guy selling candles or another huge guy selling soaps. They have those small shops here and there like in some country from the orient.
Do you think it’s safe for tourists to travel to Greece?
I think it’s absolutely safe and okay. I’ve called the owner of the hostel before we came here to ask him if it’s safe to send the money because of the frozen finances and he said that it is absolutely alright. If you send some money to a Greek, he/she gets it.
People there can withdraw only 60 Euro?
I don’t know. If the news say so. But they definitely have some withdrawal limit. Those who have savings in banks can’t withdraw them. That’s horrible but I didn’t see any unrest here. I think it will be sorted out and Europen Union will subsidize Greece and move it forward. I think they don’t admit to themself that there is a crisis. People are drinking coffee and will probably do nothing if their daily rituals are not interrupted. They wait what the future will bring.
What are your plans in Greece?
We bought boat tickets to Greek island named Santorini which is one of the most beautiful here. It’s a volcano crater. We will stay there a week and than go to some other island and in 14 days I plan to leave Greece from Athens airport. Now we stay in Athens another two days so let’s see what will happen. I’ve heard some rumors that the goverment has money for only few days so it’s possible that in 14 days it will come out that they have no money for their employees and some demonstration could accure. Hard to tell.
Did you met someone in hostel or do you only stick together with your girlfriend?
We befriended nobody here yet, but there are other people in the hostel. Great thing we did was buing a fish and cooking it. We bought half kilo of tuna fish and some bread at the market and I have a small pot and we fried it. Delicious, healthy and cheap luch.
We are staying inside the building during the day and come out only in the morning or in the evening. I have a plan today to visit one interesting park and make a report about it. It was constructed with a help of EU funding. They thought it would be Central Park of Athens but it was open only 3 months and then they closed. Now many homeless people are there. Kristyna is too scared to go there so I’ll go there alone. I am curious.
The interesting thing about Greece is that it has 27% unemployment.
I’ve heard that in the USA, wealthy states are subsidizing poorer ones. For example, California or New York send money to New Mexico. Some Americans say that Germans should show more solidarity.
That’s true but the problem is that United States is something different than Europen Union. I think Greece is very unefficient. The money didn’t get to normal people if Europeans or Germans send their money here, officials take it. I’ve heard it’s very corrupted here. Money are getting away on mandatory expances.
Thank you for the interview, Vojta. Enjoy your stay in Greece.