Just a few days in Athens in May – colder than I had expected, but still nice to be back. My first visit here was in 1977 – seems like another world now – except that outwardly, Athens has not changed at all. The Acropolis renovation work continues; the traffic is still chaotic and the food is just as I remembered. There is something about Athens that transcends time. It manages to be a modern city, but also one that does not forget the past. The traffic flowed well and the air did not have the same thickness that marred my last visit.
Odd to come back and find that some parts of Athens had not changed in 31 years. We ate dinner in a restaurant by St Georges chapel and watched as the sun sank into the night. The acropolis and the Parthenon glowed brightly against a backdrop of blue velvet.
The Evzones, or Evzoni, (Greek: Εύζωνες, Εύζωνοι) is the name of several historical elite light infantry and mountain units of the Greek Army. Today, it refers to the members of the Proedriki Froura (Presidential Guard), an elite ceremonial unit that guards the Greek Tomb of the Unknown Soldier(Άγνωστος Στρατιώτης) and the Presidential Mansion. The Evzones are also known, colloquially, as Tsoliades (Greek: Τσολιάδες; singular: Τσολιάς – Tsolias).
Though the Presidential Guard is a predominantly ceremonial unit, all Evzones are volunteers drawn from the Hellenic Army’s Infantry, Artillery and Armoured Corps. Prospective Evzones are usually identified at the Army Recruit Training Centres during Basic Training; there is a minimum height requirement of 1.86 meters to join, and the soldier must serve a minimum of 6 months with an operational Army unit before beginning Evzone training.