Athens is the surprise you don’t expect, for better or for worse. A powerful journey between his great past and a difficult but creative and vital present. A corner of Greece on which to keep an eye.
Visiting Athens is an experience that everyone remembers and that leaves its marks.
Climb the Acropolis is like getting into the sanctuary where everything began, a place full of historic energy. Walking among the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, the Parthenon and the Temple of Athena, between the gusts of wind and the sharp light reflected by marble, allows us to perceive a charm remained intact for thousands of years.
Inside the chest, the vibrations of all the people passed through here.
Below, at the bottom, the entire West, that seems all colored in white.
While walking the streets of Athens, the Acropolis is ubiquitous, she looks after people and reminds them that there is always a good reason to look up into the sky.
The rest of the city centre is a continuous alternation of Doric columns and graffiti.
The monuments not always have the necessary space to breath and spread their majesty, but also in the buildings piling around Hadrian's Library you can feel the charm of the story that got out of hand.
Athens is impoverished, suffering: the closed shutters of the shops, the neglected streets, the smell of some corners, the outstretched hands tell it clear. Yet, suddenly there are colors, sounds and smiles, telling a soul alive and welcoming.
We stayed in Monastiraki, and it was a wonderful choice, not only for the subway that connects directly to the airport.
Monastiraki is a neighborhood full of good restaurants and clubs overflowing with people at all hours, street vendors and shops. In the main square, in the evening, there are hand-carts of fruit and guys playing music while on Pandrossou road, paved with bright colors, tourists flock to take home souvenirs and gifts.
The flea market, open the whole week, leads nicely to the Ancient Agora and the Kerameikos, the area which houses the ruins of the potters' quarter and an old cemetery.
Gasping, we climbed the Lycabettus hill, discovering a beautiful neighborhood full of steep stairways and lemon trees among the houses.
When we were at TBEX 2014’ opening party at Technopolis, the largest cultural center in Athens, we saw the urban requalification of Gazi, the area where once there was only a gas factory and that today is teeming with young people, theaters, restaurants and bars: the ability to reinterpret a desolate industrial space and turn it into a vibrant center of avant-garde reveals a lot about Athens’ recovery desire.
It is not a city for everyone: at this stage of its history, Athens is a city that needs to be understood, felt, experienced by those who wish to discover its transformation.
The food is great, the people friendly, the prices low. The underground is clean and works well, the conference venues are efficient, the wi-fi has a good diffusion, a lot of people speaks English, at the airport we found the more scrupulous and the more polite controls we ever experienced.
In the city, however, there are some run-down areas, sometimes right in the city center (as the Omonia district) and this could have a negative impact on the whole perception of Athens.
We go home leaving a beautiful experience behind us: meetings, glimpses, tastes and music surprised and satisfied us, sometimes made us smile. We saw life also where there was poverty, colors even where there was dark.
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