to each other. I would try to find invisible borders on the water and can not find the reason why we are not allowed to visit our neighbours. Despite of my short height and little age I would sometimes grab a pen and change the borders. Putting the borders away would bring freedom into my body and mind. Since that time I have been travelling those ‘forbidden lands’ with endless curiosity. After a long time I had the chance to cross the borders and meet my nigbours. When I met people from Rafina, a seaside town of Athens and after
listening to their stories I realised that they also experienced similar things and found the borders meaningless. It seemed that I was not alone. People of Aegean sea who had lived without borders for thousands of years have been far from each other for 90 years now.
often. We noticed a lof of things in Rafina that are familiar to us from Anatolia. We were suprised to see people in both sides have almost the same way of behaviours, the common food names, use Tasbih, smoke hookah, drink coffee, bogma raki, traditional games and most importantly have strong ties with their families and have big love of olive oil. This is the common culture that was developed after thousands years of living together. Visiting Triglia House Museum where all common culture items are displayed and seeing lacy beds, the old instruments, the kitchen cabinets, black and white photos that are taken in Triglia made me understand how much they loved and missed their homeland. People who were not born in Triglia and even people who have never seen Trilye call this lands ‘my hometown.’
lahmacun, kebab and baklava. Our traditions continue. If I didn’t know my story in Triglia I would not understand myself and my society..” “I wasn’t born in there Triglia but I know I will cry if I ever go there. This is why I always postpone my visit. I grew up with happy stories of my grandmother in Triglia.”
showing the old photos; “I lived at coasts of Arnavutköy in Istanbul until 1975. Our house was located near the school and the church. When I was 13 I had to leave my beloved Istanbul. I still can not forget my hometown. I sometimes meet with my Turkish friends.” I liked her Turkish with Greek accent and the interesting details she told me about İstanbul.
people and teachers showed us their hospitality, warm friendship and wanted to talk and learn about their homelands. We felt that we were treated specially as we came from their lands. Honestly we didn’t expect it.
discovering this female city I noticed some interesting faces of Athens. Athens is a philosopher. Athens is an athlete. Athens is self confident. Athens tastes good. Athens is chaotic. Athens is romantic. Athens is feminist. Athens is Ocenius. Athens is the wine on the hills. If you wish to see at least some aspects of the city you should go up to the hill located in the very middle of the city by the cable car. On the peak you can go watch 3400 years old city and the home of 3.75 million people panoramically. The white church standing on the hill creates a holy athmosphere. The church and the Artemis temple at Acrapolis look at each other. At first glance from the hill you see not very high modern buildings across the city. The small green forests between the neighbourhoods let people have fresh air and
from the hill you can easily visualize it on your mind. Then it is time to go down and touch the places that you saw from a long distance.
great idea to create some green zones where you can easily take shelter in. Athenians, who have always had big joy of life, enjoyed drinking and chatting were clever enough to create such zones very long time ago. Even though the ciy grew up and got bigger the botanical garden could keep itself the same. In the same area you meet the historical building of National Technical University of Athens.It is the heart of science and the center of the protests. The university walls are decorated with radical political slogans and students usually has something to protest. The police is not allowed to enter into the university which makes the job of the protestors easier. Graffiti is a way of art and expressing views. Not only the university but most of the buildings in the city is covered with graffitis. Thats why we can easily call athens as the lover of Graffitti.
Kemeraltı. Colorful clothes that are displayed in front of the shops, people from different cultures walking in the bazaar, people enjoying their Greek/Turkish coffee, the cheapness, fruit vendors, constant movement… It is not possible not to feel like you’re at Kemeraltı Bazaar. The only difference is that people are not in a hurry and they are calmer. In this square where the mosque and the church neighbouring each other since the Ottoman era there are many tourists, pedlars, shoppers and the ones who try to avoid the heat by having their frappes. While hearing Turkish words occasionally and watching the giant Acropolis that behaves like the owner of the city you feel the east and the west sides of the Athens at the same time. It is not strange for Athens to carry the colours of East as the city was ruled
by the Ottoman Empire for five centuries and Greece has alsways had close relationships with Middle East and Mesopotamia even before the Ottomans. The city, now, houses the Turks, the Pomaks, the Jews, Albanians, Syrians and other different cultures. This is what makes Athens charming… When wandering around in this ancient and colorful city I remember how Philip Marcel portraits Izmir or Thessaloniki in the 1920s in his book called Levand. Athenians have recently built a magnificent museum which suits the greatness of Acropolis. The old ruins are kept in the basement of the museum and covered with glass. When you walk on the glass in the first ground of the museum you look down through the glass and you feel like you’re walking in space. It is really inspiring to watch the works of the Greek
sculptures who are talented in giving soul and emotion to stones. It is also inspiring to listen and learn these things from a guide who does her job with passion and love. Temple of Artemis was a pagan temple which was converted to a church by the Romans and then converted to a mosque by the Ottomans. After the Greek independence war the mosque was converted to a church again.
We spent one week in our partner school. It was like our second home during this period. What did we see? What did we learn? Greek schools are subsidised by the municipalities. But the government pays the teachers salaries. The primary school lasts six years. The school we have visited has wide garden and a gym with multipurpose use and the classes usually have between 20-25 children. A teacher teaches a class only two years. In a school with 130 students there are 6 teachers, 6 subject teachers, 1 principal and a few workers. The principal has to hold at least a masters degree. There are no chocolate, biscuits and others ready products in the school canteen. Students can microwave the foods they bring from home in the canteen. Only homemade borek, pogaca and sandwiches are sold. Teachers use this canteen to eat, drink coffee and sometimes smoking. They do block lessons in the schools and on the breaks all students are taken out to the garden. Teachers watch kids in the school garden just in case. Motivation of the students and their behaviours to each other seem to be positive. They try to support each other in group works instead of competing. Seeing there are no tests or race for exams in this system (at least at primary level) makes me happy. They do their lessons with projects, reading, narrating and creative writing. By the way there are Chinese, Bulgarian, Albanian and students from other nationalities attending the school. They know
Greek quite well and they seem to be adapted to the school environment. Also they have good relationship with the Greek students. Schools are full day and ends at 14.00. There’s a nice regulation for the children of working families. When the school finishes children of working families stay at the school until 16.00. There is always a teacher to monitor or coach them.
contribution toward reuniting Ageans' two sides. And finally, it seems that I will travel to Triglia to bring greetings sent by friends in Rafina. And I will touch the works of their ancestors for them. It also seems that the journeys will go on until the two sides of the Agean Sea come together and the borders disappear. For me, this is not a dream J.
Translated from Turkish by Gülce Dilay Erdem
Many thanks :)