My First Impression of Athens, Greece
It was 11 AM of 23rd December 2014; the aircraft was about to touchdown at Athens International Airport and I curiously looked down below at the city of Athens, the one I was dreaming of visiting for the past few months. I expected it to have an ancient look, but the sight of 100s of cream colored box like houses surprised me – how can one find 5000 years of history here!
My First Impression of Athens
It looked like any other modern city with well defined broad highways! I scanned the cityscape for Acropolis which should be within the radius of 40kms of the airport, but in that speed of descend I could hardly make out any form. Of course I couldn’t come to any concrete opinion about my first impression of Athens. The huge magnitude of history of Athens sank in only after visiting several sites there. I was amazed during my walking tours in the streets of Athens how old has mingled well with new.
I spent 5 nights and 4 days in the city and we were mostly on our own i.e. as self guided tourists in Athens. The first 3 nights were spent in a hotel near Parthenon and we conquered the ancient ruins of Athens by foot. In the last leg of our tour we stayed in Hotel Delice, when we used the metros for transport, which was easy and convenient. We concentrated on what Athens as a city had to offer and did not venture to the lovely beaches (may be I will do that if I get a chance to visit again).
Athens, a Complex City
It is a complex city with a multifaceted personality. Did the ancient ruins submerge under the modern architecture or did the high rise buildings rise out the ruins? The answer is ‘NEITHER’. Each aspect of the city maintained in a bold manner; the ancient ruins lay majestically in proper enclosed boundaries as it had for centuries and the modern new born buildings had a distinct character of their own.
Tourism in Athens
Tourism does have a strong hold on Athens. From shop owners to restaurant attendees they are keen to interact with tourists. The taverna guys are a joy to talk to. They know – no beef for Hindus of India – they tempt you with other local cuisines but are never pushy. Souvenir dealers stress specifically on the fact “hand made in Athens” and “NOT made in China”. I was taken aback the first time I heard it there. I like how passionate they are about their country.
I had faint memories of the newspaper reports of the unrest in youth of Greece a couple of years back. Have the flames of rebellion subsided yet? Here and there I saw abandoned, damaged buildings. The graffiti on walls there speak loudly, as if some voice is trying to reach out to express. I personally feel youth handling spray paints for graffiti are a lot better than handling guns. And then you see colorful dreams floating by! One can wish only the best for Athens, for Greece!