Every American who visits Europe comments on how much history there is. The buildings are so much older than ours, the streets are made of cobblestone, and the churches are sites to marvel at. Athens, to me, feels the oldest. Unlike Rome or Paris, the city is not modern. You don’t see high rise buildings or fancy shopping centers, you see an ancient city that has seen countless wars and collapses even as recent as 5 years ago.
Our hotel is actually quite lovely but it’s in the ghetto. The neighborhood is FULL of graffiti, abandoned apartments and shops and homeless people. The food in our little corner of the city is cheap and delicious, the people are friendly and despite the scenery we feel safe here.
Downtown is cleaned up a bit more although there are still many closed up businesses and the city is littered with dogs and cats living off the scraps of this tourist hub. As we tour the city I can see the traces of the amazing city this must have once been. Beneath the poverty and the graffiti you can still see a stunning port city rich with history and culture. I love that the shops and restaurants are all family owned. Here you can pass by a little barber shop with a few old Greek men waving their arms, deep in conversation or walk into a little shop full of gossiping ladies.
We set sail tomorrow for Santorini. Even though we’re looking forward to seeing the prettier side of Greece, I really enjoyed seeing the place where democracy, art and sports all have their roots. I don’t think anywhere else will feel the same.