2016-07-16

Syntagma Square: Change of the guard

Two Greek soldiers in the traditional uniform of the "Evzonas" (which means "well-armed") stand in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Greek Parliament. Every hour of the day, on the hour, there is a change of the guard that Greeks and tourists gather to watch.

On Sunday, at 11:00 am however, a special, full-fledged ceremony takes place, with a whole regiment of Evzones and a military band accompanying the change of the guard. Arrive at least 15' early to catch a good view. You won't be able to stand as close to the guards as on the other hours and days but it's worth it. The Evzones come out of their barracks, located at Maximou St. - at the backside of the National Garden-, they march down Leoforos Vassilissis Sofias, which gets cordoned off for the occasion, and then turn left on Leoforos Amalias, in front of the Parliament.

The Evzones arrive at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, in front of the Greek Parliament, for Sunday's ceremonial change of the guard

A full regiment of Evzones accompany Sunday's 11:00am change of the guard, in front of the Greek Parliament

Standing still as the military band gets ready to play Greece's national anthem
The Evzones perform some elaborate routine, to replace the guards of the previous hours with the new ones, and then the national anthem is played by the military band. It's a moving moment, even for people like yours truly, who don't generally care much about ceremonies and flag waving crowds.
Crowds gathered around to watch, locals and tourists alike.

...Going back to the Guard's barracks.

Marching along Vassilissis Sofias Avenue, towards the Guard's barracks.

Marching in stride


Evzones marching back to their barracks in the National Garden, along Vassilissis Sofias Avenue, after the Sunday, 11:00 am Change of the Guard.

The Evzonas uniform is a result of painstaking work, leading to a complicated, hand-made whole, with the kilt-like foustanela having 400 pleats (representing the 400 years of slavery under the Ottomans), a leather belt, hard-leather shoes called tsarouhia bearing metal-reinforced soles, etc. The typical Evzonas or tsolias uniform depicted here and in most tourist souvenirs is the "summer uniform" which was the traditional uniform in the continental, southern pat of Greece. During the cold season, the Evzones wear an alternative winter uniform, from the region of Macedonia, while on special occasions they may wear traditional uniforms from the islands or from the Pontus (Black Sea) area.

You may combine watching the change of the guard with a visit to the garden of the Presidential Mansion, right after the ceremony.


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2016-07-15

"Walking" some more... (personal thoughts with a touch of mystery)

Last night I finally made it.

I got out of the house, the cool night breeze hitting me in the face, and walked into the night. There was nothing particular about this walk. Familiar pavements, familiar buildings, the usual neighborhood shops that I hurriedly pass-by or drive-by every day.

But it was a walk none the less. Detached from the daily routine, forgetful of my endless to-do lists, away from my screens and monitors, just walking in the almost empty streets. It cleansed my mind of ideas and worries and just reminded me of why I decided to name this blog the way I did, years ago. I would become a "night-guide" to foreign visitors willing, but afraid, to venture out into the dark streets of Athens. I would discreetly accompany them on long, purposeless walks, in the bland neighborhoods and the outer suburbs, just so they could absorb the feeling of the place. I would tell them about life here and, if they so felt, I'd listen to their stories as well. I would show them the vistas, the hidden corners and the dangerous streets that tourists never get to see. The few, the plain, the uninspiring, the magic. Connections would form and ideas for new stories and maybe even books would be born. And I would walk and get paid for it on top!

Athens or not, a Walker I shall remain!

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