Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Athens: Summer Holiday 2009

I was in Athens 10 years ago. I had followed the advice from fellow travelers and decided to stay barely 24 hours in the city before heading on to the islands. I hopped a ferry from Brindisi, Italy to Patras, Greece. Then, caught a 2am train into the city arriving in the early morning. It was everything everyone had told me. A hot, dirty mess. I slept for a few hours and began to explore with my limited time. I climbed the Acropolis and toured through the National Archeological Museum (go there is you visit). But, I was glad to find myself the next morning on the docks at Piraeus waiting for a ferry to Mykonos. What a difference 10 years makes.

Athens is still a hot mess. A little less dirty. But, still a hot mess. It didn't help that seeing main attractions required us to walk to/from our hotel through Omonia Square. At night in this square, we walked past addicts with needles sticking of their arms. The subway comes in handy in times like these.

Note: The images in this post link to my Picasa photo album with all trip photos.

The Athens I'll remember from this trip is all about architecture. Really old architecture. With really great light. There were some great little unexplored nuggets waiting to be found. Like the Temple of Hephaestus (above).

But, what was really nice was the opportunity to walk around the city at night. Lots of hustle and bustle in the main tourist area of Plaka. And some wonderful monuments that projected their former (and current) glory well. Walking beneath the Acropolis lit up at night on a quiet street away from the shopping and eating frenzy of Plaka is great therapy for erasing bad images of Athens.

The difference is like night and day. And the difference between walking around in daylight and at night is like, well, just watch the video.

Now, both of us ended up buying one of those gauzy, long-sleeved, white cotton shirts in Plaka. When in Greece...

For more photos along with descriptions of our trip to Athens, click here.

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