Choose the Acropolis. Choose the Ancient Agorà. Choose Plaka. Choose Kolonaki. Choose the shopping on Ermou Street. Choose the marbles, the history, and the museums. Choose the cobbled streets, the souvenir shops and the panoramic view from the terrace of a fancy restaurant. Choose the cruise. Choose an idyllic Greek island. Choose the beach, the sea, the sun, and the cocktails with little umbrellas sticking out of the top. Choose to suck life in a disciplined way through a brightly-coloured straw.
Here we are at the last post of this Athens series, wrapping up my amazing trip to the capital of Greece. Before going to Athens, I wrote that my “mission” would have been to investigate how Balkan is Athens and now I can say that, despite an initial scepticism, I found a lot of Balkan vibes in Athens indeed. Food markets, bazaars, kiosks, shoe-shine men and vendors on the streets… you will spot the Balkan side of Athens just strolling around the city centre; for a further investigation, you can attend a live music concert, look for the Ottoman architectural heritage or eat at one of the many street food kiosks, where you will find the best Balkan recipes and –it goes without saying- the ubiquitous meat.
Athens is a motley town: each neighborhood has its own characteristic traits and atmosphere, a distinctive soul you can breath with a simple walk across its streets. Downtown Athens can be easily explored by walk, strolling from one district to another in less than few hours, leaving you the time to jump on a train or a bus and head to a suburban area. I really liked Athens’ suburbs and I was amazed by that fact that it didn’t take me long to get there: in fact, Athens public transport is really well-structured, which allowed me to explore so many areas of Athens in just one week, with an efficiency that could not have been possible in –let’s say- Rome.
Athens, seen from above, is a white ocean of roofs meeting the Mediterranean sea somewhere at the horizon.
Athens, street view, is a very colourful town: posters, installations, kiosks and a lot of street art (a lot, really a lot!), including several large outdoor murals.
Some of them were made possible though various creative projects set up by the Athens Municipality (especially before the Olympic Games of 2004), which involved some well-known local street artists, many of whom are from the Athens School of Fine Arts (which runs a programme of street art studies, by the way).
From the very heart of the Mediterranean basin, Greek cuisine is made up of a wide variety of dishes mirroring the long history, the variegated landscape and the crossroads’ nature of this country. From my personal experience in Athens Greek cuisine is full of meat (it was literally everywhere!) as traditional fish dishes are more likely to be found on the islands, vegetables and tasty savory pies (tyropita –the one with cheese- and spanakopita –filled with spinach- a.k.a. the Greek version on my beloved Balkan burek). Wandering around downtown Athens you will find plenty of nice restaurants, taverns and cafés: here is a selection of my favourite ones!
Καλή σας όρεξη!
Enjoy your meal!