migrants and refugees (1)

earlier this month, i went to the port of piraeus with volunteers from caritas, a catholic charity that provides a variety of services to the refugees coming into athens. the volunteers were there to advertise caritas’ offerings (clothing distribution, a soup kitchen, english and greek lessons, psycho-social counseling, etc.) to the people coming off the ferry from lesvos, and i was there to photograph the scene. i used my leica m6 and ilford hp5 film because i enjoy the challenge of shooting with a fully manual rangefinder.

ironically, i also took some photos with my fujifilm x100s, which is a rangefinder-like digital camera with auto-focus and auto-exposure, and i left the lens cap on for half the shots.

we start at the train station:

refugees wait at the piraeus metro station for their handler to take them into athens.

a group of refugees makes its way through the ticket validation machines.

some of the refugees left behind the sleeping bags that they got from the u.n. high commission on refugees. presumably, they didn’t think they’d need them any longer. i expect they’ll regret that decision later …

new arrivals mix with long-time residents.

out to the port itself. this was the first day after a multi-day ferry workers’ strike, so there were a lot of people on board.

photographers await the new arrivals.

travel agency touts (many of them recent immigrants themselves) advertise onward transportation. the majority of immigrants and refugees don’t want to stay in greece, but to head northward through macedonia to germany.

proof that they’ve made it to the mainland.

no suitcase – no problem.

a woman looks through donated goods. many ngo’s and charities offer clothing and household goods at the port to incoming migrants to help them replace what they’ve lost.

“you hold the baby while i shop.”

the first cemetery of athens

the first cemetery of athens, opened in 1837, was – in its day – the “luxurious” cemetery for the city. many greek and foreign notables are buried there, including the actress melina mercouri; andreas and george papandreou, father-and-son prime ministers; georgios papadopoulos, the dictator during the junta period; heinrich schliemann, the german archaeologist who excavated the city of troy; and the british author t.h. white.

the luxurious graves are, frankly, pretty luxurious.

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i imagine that ancient delphi looked like this at its height, with the treasuries from each city lined up one next to the other displaying their gifts to the temple.

graves of orthodox priests.


the newer section of the cemetery is more plain and more crowded. also, unlike the older section, the newer section’s headstones usually incorporate photographs somehow, with a mix of modern and older photos.

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there also are a lot of cats.

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of course, this is a working cemetery. in the 90 minutes i was there, i saw two funeral processions, and there were another two waiting to go.

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