Athens, What A Disappointment

So there we were, the three of us, quite tired, at Athens airport one June afternoon, my mother looking for the taxi queue, and my daughter and I pushing the trolley with our luggage…Finally, we were there! It had taken months of planning and coordination (what with my daughter and I living in Singapore and my mother in Kolkata) to reach this point…The three of us were on a two week tour which included a 7 night cruise to a few of the Greek Islands in the Aegean Sea, Istanbul and Kusadasi…

As we waited for a taxi, I couldn’t stop imagining what the oldest city in Europe and the cradle of Western civilization would be like…I am a history nut and as such, I was supposed to like it…The guidebooks told me I would like it, Ian Wright told me I would like it, a stranger in the doctor’s office told me I would like it…I had goosebumps just thinking about what I would see and experience in the next few days…I knew the economy was in the doldrums, but who cared…I was more interested in history and culture, not glitzy malls and night clubs…

The drive into Athens was, how should I say it, less than spectacular…The scenery was ordinary, the land dry…As we entered the city, I realized it was like any other big city – tired and wilting…It was no Rome, Paris or Florence…The buildings reminded me of Delhi and the graffiti of the Bronx…I don’t know what I was expecting but definitely not this…

The hotel was supposed to be a ‘luxurious’ one but the people working there were few, old and tired looking…There were no bell boys, so we had to drag our suitcases to our rooms ourselves…It would have been fine if we were staying in a place where we were expected to fend for ourselves but when you are being charged for ‘luxury’, they should at least provide us with a couple of bell boys…

I must admit though, there were some areas that lived up to my expectations…The Acropolis crowned by the Parthenon was beautiful at night but a close up view in the morning was far from wonderful…We hiked up the citadel at 9.30 in the morning hoping to beat the heat and crowds but they beat us to it…No matter…I kept telling myself that the heat and shoving would be worth it but on reaching the summit we found the temple covered in scaffolding which was not at all cool…These ugly contraptions will remain for a few years more…
Parthenon
(Photo: Parthenon)

An area I liked a lot was Plaka, a neighborhood near the Acropolis, which has been inhabited since antiquity and is now mainly a shopping and dining area for tourists…Yes, I must sadly admit, I was so let down by Athens that I partook in something I detest – shopping…The only saving grace was that I did it in Plaka where I got good bargains…

Even though I didn’t like Athens, I loved the people and the food…The islands were great especially Santorini with it’s marbled pavement and blue domes, doors and windows…
image

(Photo: Santorini)

 

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3 thoughts on “Athens, What A Disappointment

  1. We were there just last month! Athens struck me as a city in decline. And if you’ve seen one ancient building, you’ve seen them all. Santorini was something else though. Oia was waaaaay too crowded for my taste. It’s nothing but a glorified shopping mall. The other places in Santorini like Fira and a few others had more charm in my opinion…

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    • I agree…I liked Istanbul and Kusadasi too…My father and husband didn’t go because they didn’t want to see ruins…The islands (symi, Mykanos, Rhodes, Crete, Chios etc.) were nice but were kind of the same…Same things sold in souvenir shops etc. Only Santorini was different…The ruins in Crete were horrible – the hot weather didn’t help…What I was surprised by was the dry air…Also, I was surprised to illegal Bangladeshis selling toys…

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