"Greece is at the crossroads, it either sinks or swims," says Panayiotis, the taxi driver who is pushing well over 100km-per-hour on the highway from the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport to the centre of Athens.
"Things are bad, I am down 50 per cent in income from last year. I can't remember a period which has been as bad for us," he bemoans.
Panayiotis is a young father and, like all the Greeks I speak to, is a confident English speaker.
"The previous government and many of its rich friends destroyed Greece. They stole billions, not millions, billions of euro!" he proclaims.
This is my first visit to Athens since 2001, a time when the economy was humming along and The Economist declared Greece to be a Prometheus unbound.
It is hard to think of crisis as the azure sky and the Mediterranean sun greet my son, my wife and I, as we head towards Athens.
Later, the young man in his early 20s who served me my souvlakia at Kavouras souvlaki grill in the inner city suburb of Exarhia asked where I'm from.
His response to my being from Down Under is simple and direct: "Australia … an economic paradise."
"I want to get out of here. I am finishing an IT degree and there are no jobs. I'm not going to waste away in a souvlaki joint," he adds.
I downplay Australia's economic resilience and suggest he should not migrate because Greece needs him.
It's hard to know whether this pessimism is founded on the reality of the recession, or Greek fatalism - I suspect a mix of both.
Two young women, Mary and Nike run a Vodafone shop, in the scenic suburb of Thesion. They believe the psychological impact of the recession is more real. Business is slow," says Mary, "but the whole of Europe is going through a crisis".
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