My wonderful blog buddy Betabug and I were mentioned in the local Greek media to celebrate the 1st of August.
What follows is a Greek-to-English translation of the article in Eleftheros Typos by Marios Rozakos.
Reflections of a city on the Internet
Athens through the eyes of Greek and foreign bloggers
A pair of birds flirt in the opposite apartment building, the hostile pedestrian light of Fillelinon street where “Grigoris” (the green light) appears for a mere 8 seconds, the nightflowers that unexpectedly appear in various neighborhoods, the expensive Greek salads in tourist tavernas — four of a million pictures that confront residents and visitors of Athens. Some excite, some enrage, some people are pleasantly surprised, some unpleasantly, but they have a common theme: They inspire and mobilize Internet writers.
In the thousands of Greek-speaking blogs and millions of foreign ones, the city is reflected in or redefined by the perspectives of a visitor-observer, opening an online dialogue for the good and the crooked, leaving an electronic imprint in time. Personal accounts, denouncements, traveling advice, <and> useful information coexist on Web pages and become a point of reference for thousands of digital visitors.
Amongst the Internet narratives, the ones that stand out are those by foreign tourists or foreigners living in the capital. Many of them are embedded in foreign network blogs with big audiences, such as the traveler’s Web blog ‘Travelpod.’ Nwong from Brooklyn, USA is one of its millions of users. Two years ago, she could be found in Athens. “Athens is a city that is hard to get a feel of. It’s tough to make out a first impression… The city itself is a big historical <site>. You can walk down a shop filled street and easily bypass an area covered in glass protecting important archaeological finds,” she writes.
The warmest description is that of blogger Aurora Borealis (http://mydaughtersnameisaurora.blogspot.com), who lived and fell in love with backdrop of the Citadel. “I can feel the smell of nightflowers coming from undetected corners, and some times you think it is coming from the corners of your mind… The memories of Athens are hitting me and they are hitting me hard in the heart, in the lungs, in my veins. I miss my city. Cause now, I can call Athens ‘my city’ since the girls in the bakery store two streets above Solonos remember my name.”
Naturally, in the blogosphere is also imprinted the negative aspect of life in the big city. Exhaustive price comparisons that prove how – unjustifiably – high the cost of living is in comparison to other <major cities>, but also warnings about traps that tourists should be aware of in restaurants, constitute an integral part of Web pages — “survival guides” for Athens, such as http://survivingathens.blogspot.com and http://americaninathens.wordpress.com.
At least, according to the majority of foreign bloggers, the city’s natives remain friendly and expressive. “I don’t know about Madrid, but Athens is a bit different, with much less big city syndrome (BCS),” observes the author of the online journal http://betabug.ch/blogs/ch-athens. What are the symptoms of the syndrome? Closed, smileless, gloomy faces… People do not talk that much to each other <on the underground>.” In Athens, “a few minutes out of the rush hour…and much more in the evening than in the morning, you will get children running around, people arguing with all their heart (even if they are strangers putting on a noisy show), lovers kissing, groups of teenagers laughing out loud.”
Being categorized as writing about the negative aspect of Athens, I was initially offended since I present a truthful straightforward account based on facts and 10 years first-hand experience from the lives of Greeks and non-Greeks alike. It’s not just a blog about ills and price comparisons, it’s about helping people navigate bureaucracy and life as a non-EU, non-Greek citizen — the only one among the four bloggers mentioned, in fact. I believe the word negative should be substituted with the word realistic.
However, I was assured that Mr. Rozakos was not criticizing or singling me out, that perhaps he chose to recognize my website because he sees it for what it is. A non-Polyanna resource with practical information and entertaining (sometimes humorous) posts about life in the big bad city without the newbie innocence, romanticism or dramatic passages.
And even if the article had labeled me as negative, that’s OK too. Not only because bad publicity is free publicity nonetheless, but because I’ve never been the kind of person who got upset over oft comments, cringed under pressure or feared death threats. In fact, I love confrontation and challenge. But that’s obvious, isn’t it?
I’m an American in Athens.
To see the original article in Greek
Ευχαριστουμε Μαριο! and a ‘thank you’ to my readers who make it all worthwhile!
In completing the Greek-English translation, I chose to take quotes directly from the websites mentioned since Mr. Rozakos inadvertently took some them out of context and changed the original meaning. I also adjusted the grammar and words with utmost respect to the original article because the literal translation from Greek to English did not make sense (not a criticism, only a fact of what happens when languages are different) or was inaccurate, e.g. Manhattan and Los Angeles are not the respective capitals of New York and California. Two native Greeks checked my work, so it’s as close as it’s going to get.