NEWS

Easter departures in full swing

The traditional exodus of Athenians abandoning the city to spend Orthodox Easter in the countryside was well under way by yesterday afternoon, with thousands of motorists on the road and thousands more on ferries or planes to the islands. Traffic police intensified inspections across the entire road network in a bid to avert the increase in traffic accidents that usually occurs at this time of year. The weather was mostly fair yesterday and caused no problems on roads. But conditions are expected to deteriorate from today with lower temperatures and rain forecast for much of the country and even some snow in the mountainous regions of northern and central Greece. The weather is expected to remain cool tomorrow in most parts, with temperatures rising on Easter Sunday when Greek families traditionally roast lamb on a spit in their gardens. For those remaining in Athens, there will be some changes to public transport and other services. There will be no extended late night service on the Athens-Piraeus urban electric railway and metro tonight and the last trains tomorrow will depart about an hour earlier than usual. As for shopping, most stores will operate as normal today to allow consumers to stock up on food for the traditional weekend feast. Most stores will close early tomorrow (apart from supermarkets, which will close an hour earlier, at 8 p.m.). All stores will be shut on Easter Sunday and Monday. With most Greeks caught up in a frenzy of consumption, the country’s most eminent clerics sought to highlight the deeper meaning of Easter. Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios stressed that the significance of Christ’s Resurrection, celebrated at midnight tomorrow, «is not a dream or a utopia but a palpable reality.» He said Easter symbolized the «climate of spring.» Greek Archbishop Ieronymos said, «At times when darkness is trying to enter people’s lives, I feel the need to reach out to you, as a father to his children, a brother to his siblings, and invite you to our home, the Church.»