No matter how difficult the financial situation becomes or how many noxious insults are flung, my city of Athens will survive. As a Greek-American living in Athens for the last 20 or so years I feel compelled to defend this city more than ever before. As a child when we would come on holiday with my parents I remember walking around the center of Athens and inhaling as much air as I could hold to take back with me to the States. To me the air was sacred and so it remains.
I have had a ceaseless love affair with this city for as long as I can remember. It surprises some, especially now during this extended period of unrest. Friends from overseas ask me “What are you still doing over there?” “Come home.” But this is home I tell them and there is no other place in the world that I would rather be.
And I realize this every time I lift my eyes from the crowded streets of Athens and gaze upon the Parthenon. It still takes my breath away. A few years back when the Athens Walking Tours hosted a group of marathon runners who would be participating in the Athens Marathon on behalf of a famous athletic company I was amazed at how these runners got up every day to run in the city at 6 am. I asked one of them where they find the discipline? He just shrugged his shoulders, smiled and pointed to the Parthenon and said; “We don’t have that back home and that’s all the discipline I need.”
I have written down a few suggestions of what to see and do if you have some free time in Athens. I stress that this is only a very small list and I will upload more information in future blogs. If you go to these places while you are in Athens, you will fall in love with my city too.
There is no better way to experience a city than on foot and some great places for walking are Plaka and the Anafiotika, so is the Roman Agora and the Tower of the Winds. A stroll down Adrianou Street is also quite enjoyable especially if you stop at one of the delightful café’s or restaurants on the walkway and enjoy the spectacular views under the blue Athenian sky. Make time for a visit to the Ancient Agora and walk on the same road that Socrates walked some thousands of years before. Here you can, with the help of your imagination, picture how life was in ancient Athens. The Dionysiou Aeropagitou pedestrian walkway is lovely where you can admire the beautiful neo-classical buildings lining the street and you are next to the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum. The National Gardens is a green oasis in the heart of the city where you can feed the birds or just sit on a park bench in the shade and read a book. Ah, and last but not least; enjoy a memorable outing on a summer night in Athens at an outdoor cinema like Cine Thiseio, which by the way was recently voted the most beautiful movie theatre in the world by CNN ! You can watch a good movie and enjoy a delicious snack and cold drink, but best of all, you never lose sight of the Parthenon which is in full view.