It wasn’t that long ago that Athens was very much a developing world city that looked and felt more like Cairo or Damascus than Paris or London. But in the last few decades, it has changed dramatically, spurred on by entry into the EU, rising incomes, and the Olympic Games of 2004. The neighborhood we live in was largely orchards and vineyards until the 1970’s. Now you are more likely to find upscale clothing stores and high-end car dealerships (even if they haven’t sold a car in the last few years) than farmers. But remnants of the old-timey Greece can still be found even here in the northern suburbs of Athens.
I was taking a walk one day last fall in the residential neighborhood adjacent to ours and turned a corner onto a small side street and suddenly found myself transported to a pastoral scene from the Greece of decades (centuries?) ago: a little adobe farmhouse with a crumbling tile roof and a dusty lot in which a flock of sheep was resting in the shade.
I later learned that it was not unusual to see flocks of sheep in this part of the city. Driving home from playing tennis one recent Sunday morning, I came upon this scene of a shepherd and his large flock, grazing on the rather meager fare provided by an undeveloped residential block.
One of my favorite old-timey aspects of life here is the strolling musician, several of whom still ply their trades periodically in our neighborhood. I love the sounds of the accordion floating up to our 4th floor apartment from the street below.