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A neoclassical house on Ermou Street. In the early 20th century Athens had developed into a beautiful city that was being compared to Paris. In 1923, the Great Powers, in order to stop the fighting between Greeks and Turks, ordered all Christians in Turkey to go to Greece, and all Muslims in Greece to go to Turkey. Athens’ population tripled almost overnight and the city, in order to provide shelter for the refugees, allowed/encouraged the neoclassical mansions to be replaced by the small, anonymous apartment blocks that dominate it today. This old timer escaped the destruction of 1923 but has fallen into terrible shape; the wooden “girdle” is to protect pedestrians from falling stone in the event of an earthquake.

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Another neoclassical house on Ermou Street. I photograph these because, while I hope their destruction is prohibited, I can’t see how they can ever be restored, and I expect they’ll all be replaced by the soulless bauhaus crap that monopolizes the city today.

May Day

May Day

As far as I can tell there are no US-style parades here on May 1 and no gratuitous speech-giving about the nobility of work. The communist union held a demonstration at a business they’ve been striking for 6 months but that was it. Mostly folks did what we do on Labor Day — throw some meat on the grill and eat outside. People in the next building put a whole (small) hog on a spit and roasted it in the parking lot. The Gulf’s water is still cool but the air is warm, so there were a few family groups on the beach, with the kids playing in the shallows. It’s also a tradition here to go into the countryside and collect wildflowers on Protomayio. We supported this by denuding the hills above Sikia and coming home to arrange wildflowers in a honey-jar vase, and construct a fairly troubled-looking wildflower wreath. Warm weather and holiday meals: it’s beginning to feel a lot like summer.