Exarcheia, Athens

Me and Stephen went for a wander to Exarcheia yesterday afternoon. A quick scan on the Internet and it’s not uncommon to find horror stories advising you not to visit the place, and with that, it became somewhere I definitely wanted to check out. Besides, there was plenty enough saying it was actually alright (in the right circumstances), and I try to avoid casting judgement on places from experiences I haven’t had, often finding you can pretty much go anywhere and be ok if you’re not a dickhead and stay smart.

Saying that, we accidentally ended up somewhere that wasn’t Exarcheia, and there was an instant bad-vibe. We strayed from what was a fairly typical Main Street, to the darker corners, down side alleys where the street art became both more elaborate and I guess aggressive.

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It wasn’t long before the police presence was felt here, and with that homeless and drunks lined the alleys with some folks pulling off a genuine “don’t fuck with me” image walking freely among them. A couple tried to get our attention, I found it best to say nothing in this case, and we decided to head back to the station to figure out where we went wrong.

I managed to get a photo of a couple bits of rad street art, but I didn’t feel too comfortable stopping and putting my focus elsewhere rather than on who was around me or where I was going.

Check this out:

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High on formaldehyde, endless columns of flesh. Electronic apparition draped in womb of Ananke. Shivering whore of light, dirty infamous pagan fog. Supernatural addiction, vomited broth of Abigor. Alcoholic goatdefilement, exhaling putrid angeldust. Funeral constellation, abduction of sacred winds degrade the shapeless as semen blends with rot.

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We eventually made it to Exarcheia, a neighbourhood full of anarchists, immigrants, students, and junkies, with a range of bars, rock clubs, computer shops, cafes and record shops.

The police aren’t welcome, instead they station the surrounding streets, stopping folks from leaving.

Obviously, as ever, the cats come and go as they please…

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I guess it’s real easy to paint anywhere, as the streets are full of it.

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We headed to a bar in the main square and ordered a bottle of Rakomelo. I’ve read that the square’s occupied 24/7 to prevent the police rushing in to destroy their space. While drugs were openly been smoked while we were around, the junkies have been forced out by the locals, and from what I can gather now hang out by the museum.

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I’m sure it’s probably one of the most interesting places I’ve visited.

I’ll be adding more about it after I get back to England no doubt, when I’ve sorted through more of the photos I managed to take.

We left shortly after it got dark, to collect some alcohol for the flat along with other food supplies. It’s from that point things started to get blurry. I’m sure there were talks of venturing back and having a proper night out there one evening to experience Athens properly at night and checking out the rock clubs, though by the state of us all today, who even knows.

I am rough.

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