This is going to be an interesting post as I visited during Πάσχα (Pascha: Easter) which was a week after non-Orthodox Easter this year. As a result, I didn’t do as much of the typical sightseeing as normal; also, I was in an AirBnB so there weren’t crazy hostel people to go out with.
Πάτρα (Patras) is the third largest city in Ελλάδα (Hellas: Greece) with a population around 260,000. Strangely, this makes the Greek population here smaller than the 300,000 in Melbourne, Australia. The small (relatively) population, and the general lack of tourism gave me the impression I had found the real Greece. English speaking is only common among the youth, and people that work in the service industry (though even there it’s not as common as the larger cities). Needless to say, I appreciated the chance to get some more practice with my Greek.
So back to this Easter thing…. In Greece, this holiday is larger than Χριστούγεννα (Hristoogenna: Christmas).
As a quick side note, I fully support this idea. Christians should celebrate Christ’s conquering of death more than his birth since his death and subsequent resurrection is when he atoned for the sins of the world. At least that’s what they’ll tell you.
Because it’s so large, there were copious fireworks all weekend long. There were also a lot of closures for people to see their families.
An example of this is on Friday. This is the day they mourn/celebrate (depending on how you look at it) Christ’s death. Most of the businesses that weren’t critical to general living closed at 1500. Fortunately for me, grocery stores were one of the places still open so I was able to get some food (also, my AirBnB hosts fed me which was awesome). In the evening right around sunset, every church had a procession where they carried “Christ’s dead body”. It’s sort of like a parade….
Saturday was a relatively normal day, and most things seemed open so I went out walking. It’s particularly nice to wander by the coast as you get the breeze cooling you off. The restaurants right on the water were packed which is understandable as they provide a fantastic view.
I went back to the AirBnB before it got dark for some sweet sunset shots. That roof is awesome! It was also perfect for viewing the fireworks that started going crazy around midnight. “Χριστός ανέστη” (Christ is risen) as the locals would say. This is also when the fasting (for those that participated) is over, and everyone stuffs their faces full of meat.
Sunday was totally dead as that was the main holiday, and most people were partying with their families. The local grocery store was open though; winning! When I walked in, every staffer working that day hailed me with Easter greetings all at the same time. I’m sure I looked rude not returning them, but being bombarded with all those words at once in a still relatively unfamiliar language was just too much for my brain to process quickly enough to mount an adequate response. Sorry employees. I hope the cashier remembered me telling her two days before that I suck at Greek.
Monday wasn’t as dead as Sunday, but it was still pretty slow. I think some of the local buses weren’t running either as I waited at a stop that was supposed to have one come by every 20 minutes, but I didn’t see any. So…
Travel tip: If you’re traveling over a holiday, either A) ensure your transport method is running or B) allot enough time to use a back-up and still get to your connection on time.
Fortunately, I left enough time to walk to the downtown station. Although, I probably could have just asked my AirBnB hosts, and they would have drove me down. What can I say; I have a thing for walking….
So yeah…it was a mostly chill trip with a shitload of fireworks. Talk to you all later.