The streets of Athens are dirty, noisy, and teeming with life. People swarm the streets, passing by swiftly and always full of purpose. Driver's blatantly disregard suggestions known as "traffic laws", and even in the early morning of dawn you can here the not-so melodious sound of people laying on their horn. However, if you have the ability to see through the clutter, to slow down while everyone forges ahead, you will find magic and beauty that will send you head over heels.
5 Reasons to Travel to Athens, Greece
You might be trading the Greek islands pristine sandy shores for a pebble beach, but this ancient city will leave you breathless with its rich history and adventure.
1. The Acropolis of Athens
Meaning "highest city", the Acropolis of Athens is an elevated sanctuary built in fifth century BC to pay homage to the greek goddess, Athena. Monuments of the ancient city remain in the same location where they were built thousands of years ago. While restoration has helped the buildings remain, much original material is still intact, captivating the history and longevity of what used to be the peak achievement of Athen's power, prestige, and glory. It is truly an awe-inspiring moment standing in front of these majestic monuments.
2. Modern Athens is Built Around the Ancient City
Glimpses of the past are everywhere. I remember turning a corner past a Starbucks and there in all its glory, were two erect pillars, remnants of what used to be a building of ancient Athens. Wonders like this are still standing all over the city. Even deep in the subway tunnels, reminders of ancient life are present. The walls of glass showcase the soil, exposing bones and artifacts not emanating death, but deeply rooted culture and life itself.
3. The food
The most well known vendor food is the gyro, but Athen's street cuisine extends way beyond this delicious familiarity. Slouvaki, meaning "little stick" in greek, is long, juicy strips of chicken, pork, or lamb bursting with Mediterranean flavor weaved through a wooden scewer. It is sometimes served with tzatziki, a tangy greek yogurt sauce with notes of cucumber and garlic. Other common favorites are spanokopita, spinach and feta wrapped in fried phyllo dough, and my favorite, tiropita, which excludes the spinach. Whether you have a picky or aquired palate, Athen's street cuisine has a wide variety of taste that is surely to win the heart and stomach of anyone.
4. The Graffiti
Though inevitable, graffiti can be a huge con of big cities for some people. Murals from graffiti artists can be beautiful and full of expression. However, names and phrases tagged all over trains and roadway structures fall on the opposite spectrum of tasteful street art. Admittedly, I thought the majority of graffiti in Athens was trashy and made the city look dirty, until I changed my perspective. When I first began learning greek, I wanted to write it everywhere. My notebooks were covered in random words in greek, my school notes were riddled in well practiced greek characters on every inch of available space. Walking through Athen's streets, I would see random words in english scrawled on buildings an bridges like "yogurt" and "face". I felt the connection of excitement that comes from learning new languages, and though it's silly to say, those random english words made a lasting impression on my heart and mind. It's amazing how words connect you with people of different culture, and it is an experience you will not soon forget.
5. The veiw
Athens is an enchanting city, where even the ugly is beautiful. A spectacular view of the city is a must when visiting this wonderful place. Whether it is from the Acropolis or a random hill or rocky crag, stay a while, watch the sunset. You won't regret it. The view itself encompasses the greatness and splendor of the city, and may just convince you to return.