Above is the video I made during my time in Athens and Delphi.
I’ve recently returned from my first trip to Athens and, what can I say? I’m in love!
There was something electric about the place – and it wasn’t just the feel of the ouzo as it trickled down my throat and warmed my chest.
I’ve been curious about Athens for as long as I can remember. As a child, I grew up with stories from my father’s adventures in the city. On his first trip, he’d purchased a black and gold Athens t-shirt and wore for it years, even after the gold lettering had faded. I remember we used to spend many lazy Sunday afternoons together listening to Zorba the Greek, a non-traditional song but one that seemed to capture the spirit of his adventure.
I’ve always wondered what it was about Athens that had made such an impression on him.
Clutching my bags as I stepped off the plane, I knew I was about to find out.
As the capital of Greece, Athens is a bustling metropolis and one of the world’s oldest cities with a history spanning more than 3,400 years. Wandering the streets of the city, you come face to face with Athenian culture from across the ages. Imposing historic monuments anchor a city bursting with energy and life; their archaic structures sharply contrast against the modern coloured strokes of local street art and graffiti. Somehow in the city where democracy was born, it seems only fitting that people scrawl their expressions across the city’s surfaces.
But the city evokes much more than artistic expressions. Walking down cobbled streets and across marbled squares, one can lose themselves in the romance of ancient antiquity, or simply in the footsteps of the teen-aged couple dancing to their own music under the street lamps of Panathinaiko Stadio.
For me, it was while sitting in Mitropoleos Square when I heard the strum of those first few notes of Zorba the Greek being played by musicians at the Pandroussou Street Market party. In the pluck of those notes, the band strummed at my heart strings and in a moment I was transported back to my father all those years ago.
Since leaving the city, I’ve realized that retracing his steps was a deeply personal experience for me. But it was more than ancient architecture and folklore that won me over.
In my whirlwind week, I was gifted with many acts of kindness. From the young couple who missed their bus to help me find my destination and who offered me their number incase I would need further help or a translator, to the Athenian dentist who bought my friends and I a round of drinks after I mistook him for someone, to the waiter at Plakiotissa Restaurant who asked for updates on my trip and was keen to teach me traditional Greek dancing (if you’re reading this, I’m sorry I didn’t get the chance to come in – next time you’re top of the list!). These are just a few of the welcoming strangers who went over and above what was necessary to provide assistance or make sure I was enjoying my time in Athens.
In a busy, thriving city, it’s not uncommon to feel alone. But in Athens, I found friends wherever I turned. It’s easy to see why my dad loved the city so much. And while I reveled in the rough texture of ancient ruins beneath my fingertips and the seductive weave of the city’s streets, it was the people who really stole my heart.