Why Athens is Special
I just returned from a trip to Greece, and while I’ve traveled around Europe quite a bit, Greece is very different from other places I’ve visited. All European countries are rich in history, but the history and monuments in Greece are some of the oldest in the world. Walking the streets of Greek cities is a truly amazing experience. I spent the majority of my time in Athens. The weather was beautiful, t he people were welcoming, the arts scene was explosive and I fell in love with the authentic Greek shopping. Here are a few things that make Athens a special city.
The people of Athens are lovely, and they are talkers! Three words can be used to describe Athenians: outgoing, open, and proud. They love to talk about the history of the city and the current unfortunate economic situation in Greece. I learned so much about the history and the sights just in passing conversations. At every dinner party and during every night out I met someone as educated about Greece’s rich culture as a professor of Greek Mythology.
Kolonaki is my favorite neighborhood in Athens, for shopping, eating, and drinking. It reminds me of the Eighth District in Paris. I found an excellent Italian restaurant called Malconi’s, and the only better place in the world to find Italian food is Italy itself.
Monastiraki is a neighborhood with a very cool open market and a variety of beautiful jewelry vendors. The houses in Monastiraki are colorful and fun photograph.
Syntagma is the central square of Athens. The buildings have floor-to-ceiling windows and massive white columns. Syntagma is a great place to grab a gelato and take a walk.
The shopping in Athens is exclusive and diverse. There are high-end boutiques, flea markets and street vendors worth exploring. My favorite luxury boutique was Vassillis Zoulias, offering a beautiful and feminine collection with full skirts, matching petticoats and dreamy pumps. I also met the owner of a gorgeous boutique in Old Athens, Ioanna Kourbela, with an edgy contemporary line. I fell in love with the colors and odd shapes of the designs, and the multicolored fur coat was my absolute favorite piece.
My favorite piece that I brought in Greece was a silver nameplate with my name written in Greek, for just five Euros. I met a nice older gentleman and his friend creating them in the center of Athens.
The Benaki Museum is the oldest museum in Greece, with an extensive collection dating back to 1453. The exhibitions highlighted jewelry, fashion, textiles, antiques and paintings covering cultural pieces from Greece’s long history. Another of my favorite museums, The Cycladic Museum, is walking distance from The Benaki Museum.
The Acropolis Museum is located in Makriyianni, just a few hundred meters from the Acropolis. This museum has over 250 exhibits, including sculptures, video, images, drawings and reconstructions. The perfectly preserved artifacts are beautiful. The statues are enormous and the details make them appear lifelike. The detailed information about each exhibition is very interesting. The Acropolis Museum is walking distance from Syntagma Square, the center of Athens.
What I enjoyed most about Athens was the history. The sights are ancient, most dating from 1900-1100 BCE. The size of many sights was also surprising. The Acropolis is 490 feet tall and has a surface area of seven acres. In Athens, it is very normal to walk around a corner and see one of the wonders of the world.
Sights that shouldn’t be missed are the Acropolis, Parthenon, Temple of Athena Nike, Arch of Hadrian and Pnyx. I took a walking tour around the city and was amazed at the architecture and beautiful gardens. I loved learning about the history of Greece, listening to the stories, and being led to the hidden gems of the city.
My most memorable experience in Athens was seeing an old preserved bathhouse in the middle of the city. The actual bath areas and the huge vases that held olive oil are still intact. The ancient bathhouse stands in the middle of a very metropolitan area of Athens, next to a metro station.
One of the most amazing things about Greece is the ability to island hop. It is very easy and inexpensive to visit a different island each day. A few of the best islands are Crete, Aegina and Piraeus. The cost to take a boat to these islands is between 50 and 100 Euros. Each island is picturesque, with different food, art, music, and fashion.