Urban travel tales

Where have they gone the monkeys Mom?

It is Sunday, a warm day of 18 C/65 F, when in London is -1/-30.2 F and in New York +2/35.6 F. In Greece we are blessed with a mild weather and an enticing light. 

urban travel tales, Athens National Garden

Central entrance to National Garden

In the National Garden, at the center of Athens, next to the Parliament, people are walking, sitting on the benches. Most of the grown-ups have arrived from Central Europe and the Balkan countries, but their children speak Greek without any accent.
They take photos; they watch the birds, while the tortoises are swimming gracefully in the pond and the fishes in the miniature lake. Children hang around with an air of confidence as the water containers are not bigger than swimming pools.

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They jump over the brooks like super heroes.

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I have very vivid memories from another Park where they used to take us to walk, to play, to learn. By the time I entered puberty I was totally disconnected from the Public Gardens. There was no time left, with all the school duties and learning foreign languages, a must if you are Greek. It was the beginning of self-consciousness, of prohibitions. The years of innocence were over; the little red riding hood could face a real wolf hidden in the shadows of the trees.

Then, the atmosphere of affluence invaded the city; the population reached over 4 million. Cafés were springing like mushrooms after rain. The choice of coffee was not restricted between ‘greek coffee’ or the icy one, ‘frapé´ any more.

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Now, the trend goes back to ‘save money’; we appreciate ‘free of charge’, ‘no car’. Grandiose schemes like lions or tigers that once were recruited in the little zoo of the National Garden are past tense.

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Even the few animals and birds still living here look miserable, depressed, quarrelsome, especially the ducks. If it were up to me, I would have let them free.

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A mother with two kids is standing next to me in front of the map of the National Garden.

‘What are you looking for?’ I ask.

‘There is a children’s library’, she says, and her accent is foreign.
The little girl next to her has eyes full of tears.
‘We did not find any animals and she is sad’, mother translates. 

‘Don’t you know, they have let them go. The little monkey is now back to the woods,
to find her mother’, I am addressing the mother.

‘Really?’ mother’s smile brightens her face. Girl listens attentively.

‘Yes, of course. And little monkey is so happy now. You will see a lot of empty cages… You’d better head for the library made especially for you children’.
Here I took my chances. Last time it was closed.

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Today it is open. Children are sitting in front of drawings and wait for the fairy tale to start. Their parents sit uncomfortably next to them, like dwarfs next to Snow White – you can picture the image reversed. The storyteller, a young man, has the air of an actor before performing. 042I find out that Children’s Library has just opened today in the National Garden, for a test period. It has been shut down for a long time. I am not a detective to search for the reasons. I read what I see with my own eyes. And today I see that miracles can happen!

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Further reading on Athens 
http://to.ly/j7zP     http://to.ly/hXeZ      http://to.ly/gPpa      http://to.ly/hRm8
Archaeology  http://to.ly/kvJs
Eng/Gr:  http://to.ly/pcfJ        http://to.ly/pcow        http://to.ly/j7zY

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