The Markets of Monisteraki

Let’s leave Germany today, just for a little while. It’s Friday, Summer has handed over her evening domain to Autumn who prefers cold nights and feet, and things are very quiet outside my window (I suspect many Bavarians have stretched their Thursday public holiday into a 4 day weekend.) It’s quiet enough to close my eyes and go to …

Greece.

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I haven’t been there this year – physically; in my head, I am there all too often – making 2013 only the second year since 2007 I’ve not yamas-ed my way through alarming amounts of ouzo and taramasalata.

So we’re going to Greece today – you, me, all of us. To Athens, one of my favourite cities in the world.

I wrote this about Athens back in 2010, the last time I was there:

Athens, or at least, its city centre, Monisteraki, is everything people who warn you against spending too much time there, say it is. And to those people, I say, rubbish. Open your eyes just a little wider. Athens may be a city that requires some work (it lacks the charm of, say London, or the overwhelming beauty of, say, Paris) but it’s worth it. Monisteraki heaves with people and voices and the scent of constant cooking. It bustles with spices and street vendors and cafes. It’s loud and grimy and in your face. It’s sort of brown. There are as many souvlaki stores as there are pigeons and everything feels old. Monisteraki is also market heaven, which explains the constant barrage of odours – a big meat hall stands next to the fish markets and both are fronted by vendors selling sacks of dried herbs and pots of vermillion spices, fresh fruit and shelves of nuts.

Since then the Euro Crisis has changed so much for the city and its people. It has been a dark, dark couple of years for an ancient country with a proud, angry, hurting population. It will pass, my God I hope in good time. Der Spiegl published this piece, this week, about how these difficult times are bringing out the best in the youth of Athens, encouraging a sense of purpose and community. Light, tunnel, all of that. Go, Greece, go!

So, to the markets of Monisteraki, the spices, the street vendors, the souvlaki …

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 Happy Friday.

 

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