Blue purple acacia tree flowers carpet the sidewalks around downtown Athens. Bitter oranges hung temptingly (too bad you can't eat them). Jasmin bushes spread their aroma as I walk by on the narrow sidewalks trying to avoid bumping into an open window or a car's side mirror. Most everything seems narrow here. Sometimes even downright claustrophobic. Like my mother's neighborhood. If I stretch my arms long enough from the balcony I can touch the little boy playing on his balcony across the street. Most of us walk on the street instead, running the risk of being hit by a car or motorcycle. I don't like to walk in the middle of the street. Mother insists it is the only way to go.
In the afternoon Maria takes me to another neighborhood near downtown with zig-zag streets and old, peeling buildings with old fabric shops and new, trendy cafes. Anything old is new again. Some try to rehab, remodel, make old, abandoned spaces habitable again. One large space is referred to as "the chickens place." I think the owner raises chickens but no, there are large paper-mache colorful chickens hanging from the ceiling. Underneath the chickens large tables accomodate customers reading, drinking, working on their computers. Huge paper-mache chickens!
Later we go to a large cafe behind a bookstore and enjoy a respite from the walk. Many of these spots open cafes and bars in the back, away from the noise and fumes of the streets. A variety of plants add to the spirit of "green" that they try to develop. Except, of course, for the cigarettes. Everyone smokes. Everywhere. Inside and out. So much for rules and regulations! And the pedestrians have no right of way. Cross the street at your own risk. And the roaring of motorcycles wakes me up in the middle of the night. But I complain too much probably. I don't know. What do you think?