Us Europeans

Archives for Greece

EU the Greek way

Democracy may well have its cradle in Greece but the Greeks have only seen little of it during most of their history. The most recent restoration of the democratic legacy dates from 1973, when a student uprising led to the fall of Greece`s last dictator. The resulting revolution and free elections paved the way for membership of the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1981. But how much of the European dream actually makes it all the way to Greece?

Posted by Bruno

The Greek islands

Hundreds of books have been written about the Greek islands, and about who should visit which one and why. I unfortunately do not have the time to visit many islands on this trip, but would still like to have a global understanding of how they relate to each other, and how they are different from mainland Greece.

Posted by Bruno

When I asked young people in Manchester about their ambitions for the future, almost every single one of them wanted to leave for an exotic location at the other end of the world. Greeks of the same age have other priorities, especially those who live on the island of Hydra, two hours away from Athens.

Posted by Bruno

Ancient soap operas

Put twelve Gods on top of a mountain in Greece and see what happens. What nowadays sounds like a boring scenario for yet another real-life soap was an everyday reality for many Greeks in ancient times. Before Christianity was imposed and all the ancient temples were burnt, a small cast of twelve managed to keep a whole civilisation busy. Welcome to Greek mythology, where every single story seems to have 1001 different versions.

Posted by Bruno

Eek, an earthquake!

Earthquakes are more common in Greece than they are anywhere else in the European Union.
During recent months, there have been several small earthquakes all over Greece, but most of those tend to cause only slight inconvenience. They last for a few seconds and disappear. Bigger earthquakes, like the 1999 one in Athens, can destruct buildings and kill hundreds of people in a matter of minutes. Never having experienced an earthquake in my life, I am asking some Greeks in the street of Athens what earthquakes are like and how scary they are.

Posted by Bruno

Religion and superstition

Greece is known to be a very conservative country when it comes to religion and traditions. Although young people are turning away from the Orthodox Church, especially in Athens and on some of the islands, the influence of religion resonates in their everyday behaviour and in the way they take the important choices of life.

Posted by Bruno

2004 was a magic year for sports in Greece. The Greek national football team won the European Championships and the Olympic Games returned to their birth place Athens. While few Athenians were bothered to stay in town to see the Olympics, the unexpected football victory sparked a seemingly endless chain of celebrations across the country.

Posted by Bruno

When I started `Us Europeans`, I decided that I would try to leave my Dutch mindset behind and write stories as if I could be from anywhere. Many people I meet do not recognise me as Dutch at a first glance, but oftentimes, speaking about this project, they suspect that I can`t be from anywhere but The Netherlands. Travelling alone, for an extended period of time and with a specific purpose in mind ? all of that sounds very unfamiliar to people living in countries that value the group over the individual, think short-term rather than long term and prefer to party or do nothing whenever they finally manage escape their daily lives. The Greek traveling philosophy is similar to that of the other Mediterranean countries, and this is how it works:

Posted by Bruno

FastFood.GR

Starbucks and Pizza Hut: I didn`t see any of those in Italy but they do exist in Greece. Greeks are less conservative about coffee and the same applies to the pizza. Or even about food in general. Whereas Italians take time to eat, the Greeks are usually in a hurry. They love fast food, but they will not surrender to McDonalds` and alikes.

Posted by Bruno

Letters and numbers

Reading and writing are among the first skills Greek children learn in primary school. However, they won`t learn to write A`s, B`s and C`s, but Alpha`s, Beta`s and Gamma`s. Only by the time they start learning English they will get familiar with the Latin characters. Before then, it`s the Greek alphabet they learn. What else do young Greeks learn in the country where schools are not named but numbered?

Posted by Bruno