I took Qatar airline from Singapore to Athens, which transit at Doha. Even though I have been in Doha airport for 5-6 times already, I have never stepped out of the airport
Doha (Qatar) Skyscapers in the middle of the dessert.
I know that Qatar is one of the richest countries in the world, but I am always wondering what will happen to the country when the oil reserves run out (in 25 years)?
Wiki: Petroleum is the cornerstone of Qatar's economy and accounts for more than 70% of total government revenue, more than 60% of gross domestic product, and roughly 85% of export earnings. Proved oil reserves of 15 billion barrels (588,000,000 m³) should ensure continued output at current levels for 23 years. Oil has given Qatar a per capita GDP that ranks among the highest in the world. Qatar's proved reserves of natural gas exceed 7000 km³, more than 5% of the world total, third largest in the world.
More buildings in Doha. The city landscaping is quite impressive.
Wiki: Athens is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, with its recorded history spanning around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state. A centre for the arts, learning and philosophy, home of Plato's Academy and Aristotle's Lyceum, it is widely referred to as the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy, largely due to the impact of its cultural and political achievements during the 5th and 4th centuries BC in later centuries on the rest of the then known European continent. Today a cosmopolitan metropolis, modern Athens is central to economic, financial, industrial, political and cultural life in Greece. In 2008, Athens was ranked the world's 32nd richest city by purchasing power and the 25th most expensive in a UBS study.
I read so much about Greece economic crisis that I wanted to visit Athens to see it for myself. A few years ago, the Euro/SGD exchange rate was 2.1, but recently it declined to 1.56 (25% drop). On the train from the airport to the city (8 Euro), my first impression was the people looked grumpy and were not happy.
A Bulgarian gentleman sat besides me and started chatting with me. He spoke very basic english and shared with me that he couldn't find work in Athens and had been sleeping on the street. He started to ask me about Singapore, the employment opportunity, the salary as well as my religion (He was holding Bible in his hand). I showed him photos of Singapore and he was very impressed with it.
After a short chat, he told me he was very keen to find work in Singapore and wanted my contact details. However, he did not give me a good vibe and I was not comfortable with him, so I left my email in his Bible.
This is my first impression of Athens.
The main square in monastiraki, Athens with Acropolis at the back.
Street in Athens
The Temple of Olympian Zeus
Wiki: The Temple of Olympian Zeus (Greek: Ναὸς τοῦ Ὀλυμπίου Διός, Naos tou Olympiou Dios), also known as the Olympieion orColumns of the Olympian Zeus, is a colossal ruined temple in the centre of the Greek capital Athens that was dedicated to Zeus, king of the Olympian gods. Construction began in the 6th century BC during the rule of the Athenian tyrants, who envisaged building the greatest temple in the ancient world, but it was not completed until the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD some 638 years after the project had begun. During the Roman periods it was renowned as the largest temple in Greece and housed one of the largest cult statues in the ancient world.
The temple's glory was short-lived, as it fell into disuse after being pillaged in a barbarian invasion in the 3rd century AD. It was probably never repaired and was reduced to ruins thereafter. In the centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire, the temple was extensively quarried for building materials to supply building projects elsewhere in the city. Despite this, substantial remains remain visible today and it continues to be a major tourist attraction.
The "Coffee" Place
When I was walking from Monastipaki to Plaka, there were at least 2 old man who were very friendly and approached me for a short chat. And they would offer me to join them for a drink, I was skeptical and they appeared to be annoyed when I declined their offers.
After that, I was wondering if I was too skeptical (even though I didn't have good vibes) and perhaps I should be more friendly. While I was taking photos of the temple of Olympian Zeus, a 3rd old gentlemen approached me introducing himself as a retiree from one of the Greek Islands spending his vacation in Athens. He invited me for a drink and I decided to be less skeptical and join him.
He wanted to bring me to a particular coffee place (which was a few blocks away), but I told that we could just go to any ordinary coffee place for a short chat. He insisted on bringing me to his coffee place.
When I arrived at the "coffee" place, I realized I was cheated. It was not a normal coffee place, but a bar with hostess. I have been to many bars & nightclubs with hostess, but this was my first time visiting such a place on an afternoon. I ordered a Ouzo (Greek drink) for 5 Euro and ordered the cheapest drink (20 Euro) for the hostess, who was not pretty.
I decided not to waste my money and time, and started asking about her background and work in this bar. I also asked her about the general working attitude, and how the reasons behind current economic crisis in Greece. I told her frankly that in Asia, people worked really hard and competition are very stiff. She acknowledged there was an inherent problem in Greek's working attitude, but she said that they needed time to change.
This is not the first time I was cheated and will not be the last time. I wasn't unhappy, but I think it was quite an interesting experience (I had worse experience in Bangkok, Thailand and Alexandria, Egypt).
This is my 2nd impression of Athens.
Wiki: The Panathenaic Stadium or Panathinaiko (Greek: Παναθηναϊκό στάδιο, also known as the Kallimarmaro (Καλλιμάρμαρο, meaning the "beautifully marbled"),is the most ancient stadium in use in the world, is an athletic stadium in Athens that hosted the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. Reconstructed from the remains of an ancient Greek stadium, the Panathenaic is the only major stadium in the world built entirely of white marble (from Mount Penteli) and is one of the oldest in the world.
In ancient times, the stadium on this site was used to host the athletic portion of the Panathenaic Games, in honor of the GoddessAthena. During classical times, it had wooden seating. In 329 BC it was rebuilt in marble by the archon Lycurgus and in 140 AD was enlarged and renovated by Herodes Atticus, giving a seated capacity of 50,000.
Street in Athens
Syntagma Square (Greek: Πλατεία Συντάγματος, Greek pronunciation: [plaˈtia sinˈdaɣmatos], English: Constitution Square) (sometimes spelled 'Syndagma Square'), is a town square located in central Athens, Greece. The Square is named after theConstitution that King Otto was obliged to grant, after a popular and military uprising on September 3, 1843. It is the oldest and socially most important square of modern Athens, at the epicentre of commercial activity during the nineteenth century.
Changing of Guards
Changing of Guards
One of the Guards
(All these are my mathematical & scientific symbols that I am very familiar)
Beautiful sunset at Lycabettus Hill
The Acropolis is sitting on the green hill in the middle.
(There are no skyscraper
Online debates on why there are no skyscraper.)
On the way to Lycabettus Hill, I walked through a very nice part of town which reminded me of San Francisco. The hills, the neighborhood, the designers stores etc....
After the sunset, it was around 5pm. And I saw most of the shops were already closed and the cafes were packed with people at 5pm (Friday). Greeks are really laid back, I would never see such a scene in Asia. May be this is the reason why the Greek economy is in crisis.
(Shirt price at 26 Euro - 60% discount to the price in Singapore)