A deserted Patission street, one of Central Athen’s main thoroughfares, this evening.
Tomorrow is the 15th of August and the feast of the Virgin, a holy day second only to Easter in the Orthodox calendar. In the days leading up to this national holiday, the majority of Athenians decamp to islands, holiday homes and ancestral villages, often staying away until the end of the month and the beginning of the new school year.
So Athens is currently a baking hot ghost town. The roads are deserted, many of the shops shuttered and most of the bars and restaurants, with the exception of those in tourist trap Monastiraki, closed for the next 2 weeks. In fact, Monastiraki is about the only lively place in the city right now. The rest of it, from the centre to the suburbs, is eerily quiet. For those of us who will be here its a nice change from the chaos and noise of normal Athenian life but it can be a bit boring, as there’s nowhere to go unless you have friends who have also stayed behind. Most of mine aren’t here, but I have work to do so the isolation should help productivity!
If I didnt have work, I would like to be in Corfu for this holiday. There the traditional holiday feast is patsitsada, a cockerel stewed in tomatoes with a variety of spices and served with buccatini pasta. Its fabulous food and I know a lady who does an excellent job of it too. Next year, Kyria Louisa… next year!
If you happen to be anywhere in Greece tomorrow and are wondering where all the Greeks have gone, they will be in someone’s home, family more than likely, having a big slap up feast in honour of the holy mother, and never let it be said that Greeks don’t honour mothers!