Parks in European cities often have people sleeping in them. In my years of backpacking and traveling through Europe, I have seen hundreds and hundreds of people on benches, under trees or simply lying on the grass. Usually, they are men, older men, who are drunk, or were drunk and are more than likely going to be drunk again soon when they wake up. It’s not that you don’t feel for them as they lie there, but it’s that you feel, in part at least, they are there by their own choice, or decisions.
This trip to Athens, the first thing I noticed was that the parks are more crowded than usual, but it’s not old men this time. It’s young men, men who should be working or doing more than sitting on park benches. It’s women too, almost always young as well, and it’s children which I am not used to seeing at all. Collectively, they look exhausted and also as if they spent so much energy, and life, getting here, it’s hard to see them having the strength to go further forward.
The other thing that is everywhere in Athens is graffiti. Not just a little here and there, but on every building, every subway car, every sign has been spray-painted over and over again. It feels as if between the refugee crisis, the years of the financial crisis, the decay of the city and of the way of life, that people just have to have a way of screaming and they scream through cans and cans of paint.
I head to Lesvos to see Constantine Saturday.
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