On July 22nd, 2012 our group from “Love Bulgaria” visited the beautiful Kavala, which is the second-largest city in northern Greece. Unlike Athens, this city was kept up very well with minimal graffiti vandalism. The people here seemed more relaxed and the atmosphere was unlike anything I have ever experienced. During our stay, we ate roasted lamb with potatoes, a signature recipe in the area. Not more than a block away was a fair where corn on the cob and shish-kabob were being sold from vendors near the Aegean Sea. We stayed close to the central location the entire time, which was a beautiful sight. It wasn’t uncommon to see people eating dinner at 10 pm before we finally left. Because of the heat, many of the storefronts close at 3 pm and re-open at 6 pm. We started eating around 6:30 and thought it odd how no one was really in the restaurants. As Catherine Galloway pointed out to me, this is because they take Siestas during the afternoon and return back to work.
After our visit to Kavala, our group headed to spend the night at Hotel Lydia in Phillipi. This hotel was ordinary enough, having all the modern utilities we needed. The location of this hotel, however, is what made it so special. Situated near ancient ruins overlooking the city, Gantt Bone, my sister, and I forced ourselves to get up at 5:30 am so we could hike up the mountain across the street. The hike took us at least 20 minutes, but it was completely worth it.
Continuing to Athens our group explored many ruins and the remains of ancient civilizations mixed in with the contemporary architecture. What I found most appealing was the combination of these styles and how they carried through. Athens is the capital and largest city of Greece, which dominates the Attica region and is one of the world’s oldest cities with a recorded history spanning around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state. A center for the arts, learning and philosophy, home of Plato’s Academy and Aristotle’s Lyceum, and it is widely referred to as the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy. Maintaining the fourth largest population in Europe, Athens struggles to find space for its 4,013,368 people (2004). One of these struggles was evident to our group from a parking structure construction site. The plans for this had to be scrapped during the initial excavation because the discovery of ancient remains was discovered. Athens, in particular, was littered with graffiti, most of which was ugly and an eye-sore. Even the capital building had a handful of writings. I expect to use these in a general graffiti series down the road and avoided featuring them in this series.
Moving forward in these images, I’m working on maintaining a sense of color balance that best fits the individual image. One rule I’ve been following with most of these images is grasping the highlights, which easily get blown out. This has been the challenge and source of creativity for now.
Finally, the last part of my trip to Europe, which concluded in Greece near the Parthenon. These last 14 images document the very best from our last night in Athens. I was expecting the Parthenon to look different, but construction was taking place and nearly everything was off-limits. This would have been something to look at during its pinnacle moment. Graffiti is something frowned upon but legal in this city, and we saw it everywhere… except for the Parthenon. We walked through “Ancient Agora” and other surrounding zones nearby on a tour right before this. The Agora, if you didn’t know, was the center of athletic, artistic, spiritual and political life in the city of Athens —which was the city best known for founding democracy. It was a strange sight, seeing modern construction and civilization with their Americanized t-shirts and attire walking through thousands of years of history right below this monumental place.