Trouble Everywhere, All at Once

The Middle East was the center of the universe last weekend, as the world watched the Egyptian election results and Syria's downing of that Turkish F-4. Tomorrow the North Atlantic moves to the center, with the Obamacare ruling on this side of the ocean and the 1,437th Euro summit on the other.

As the potential first country out of the Eurozone, you'd think Greece would be under enough pressure. But consider its geographical position.

To the east: The Aviationist blog has published a video alongside an article that contends that,

“It is almost a daily practice for the Greek artillery that its radars lock Turkish fighter jets as they illegally enter Greek airspace. However Greeks do not push the button….”

Turkishjet

Hard to see how they sort that out anyway, since the distance between many Greek islands and the Turkish mainland is trivial. The island of Samos, for instance, lies scarcely a mile off the Dilek National Park on a tip of Turkish coast.

Then consider Greece's long unhappy relations with its northern neighbor, The Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia, a name Greece insisted on at FYROM's independence from Yugoslavia in 1991,  because it felt that "Macedonia implies a territorial claim by Skopje to a province in northern Greece with the same name." Not that anybody calls Macedonia "FYROM."

Now Macedonia and Greece are in an argument … over license plates. RFERL suggests that this photo from the internet suggests that Greek officials are covering the Macedonian "MK" with FYROM stickers on cars admitted over the Greek border.

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Cash Money

TlToday is the last day for Greeks to trade in those old souvenir Drachmas they've kept in the bottom drawer for Euros. Yesterday was the last day for Finns to trade in their old Markkas.

Meanwhile, today the Turkish Central Bank published this new symbol to represent the Turkish Lira. In 1995 Turkey devalued the old Lira by lopping off the last six zeros. Somewhere I have a photo of our being Lira millionaires, from a 1993 trip to Istanbul.

You can still become a millionaire in Vietnam. At today's rate, all you need to do is trade in US$50 for Vietnamese Dong.

Tough Call: Conrad Murray or the Drachma

ParthenonFrom the Climbing Mt. Kinabalu chapter in the book, Common Sense and Whiskey (Kindle):

"Twice we passed Japanese girls in flip-flops, and the last one was really hobbling, on her boyfriend's arm. Mountain climbing may involve stepping over rocks. Apparently they were not told."

•••••

Reading and writing about travel is fun for some of us, just like for others, Conrad Murray and Kim Kardashian are important. But right now, travel news, news from the popular culture and news about the usual American political disfunction are trifles. I say, read well and deeply into the Eurozone's dilemma.

Do it now and do it urgently. What happens in the Eurozone is far more consequential than all the low brow antics of Herman Cain and the rest of the Republican presidential field combined. It's the most compelling story of 2011/2012, and it's pending right now. You have been told.

Acropolis? Not Now

Parthenon

The good news: "the capital's chaotic traffic was quieter than usual." Otherwise, "A
nationwide strike grounded flights, trains and ferries in Greece on
Wednesday as thousands rallied in Athens to protest austerity plans
aimed at wrenching Greece out of a debt crisis that has shaken the euro
zone." – via Reuters.

And: "All but emergency flights to and from Greece
were grounded and ferries were at a standstill. Monuments such as the
Athens Acropolis shut down."

(Photo from the Greece Gallery at EarthPhotos.com.)