Friday, August 17, 2012


From the moment I left the airport, I have been flooded with memories from my first experience in Athens, and all the details of this ancient city that I had forgotten to remember. Walking along the familiar cobblestone and broken marble streets I am pleased about how easily it all comes back to me. Stepping off the metro station after the familiar voice over the loud speaker guided me to my favorite spot, Monostiraki station, the heart of it all. Climbing the stairs from the metro, the smell of the city fills up my nose and I look up to see the Acropolis directly above, lit up in all it's glory, and I have to stop to catch my breathe both from exhaustion and awe. It feels like I am seeing it for the first time all over again.

As I continue to re-explore this place, there are so many memories that come back to me. The constant chatter of noise from the city that keeps you up all night, but comforts you at the same time. Passing by our old hang outs where so many good nights were spent, it's impossible not to smile. The regular pack of street dogs that escort you where ever you go, barking only at questionable strangers. Constantly being asked where I'm from, since I reek of tourist, and when I answer "Washington state" the consistent response of praise for Obama.

I also remember the smells of the city, both good and bad. As you walk down any street you smell the hot thick air, full of car exhaust and always a faint smell of olives which you can never quite figure out where it comes from.  The Slovaki skewers can be smelt from blocks away and still make my mouth water. A strong wave of fish and raw hanging meat comes from the street markets that are busy with Greek chatter and bargaining.

Some parts of the city have changed, many of the shops have closed, and the ones that aren't closed advertise 50-70% or more discounts just to stay afloat. The graffiti on the streets has multiplied everywhere, representing so much about the people of this city. Police roam the streets two by two on their motorbikes, keeping a much closer eye than before. Walking down the streets you will see many tourists, enjoying the night life and best restaurants, but never will you see a Greek enjoying this fine life style. As my new friend explained, there is no such luxury for the the locals any more because no one can afford it.

Many people come here and all they see is a big, dirty, congested city full of beautiful ruins and good food. They aren't completely wrong, but until you have truly taken the time to appreciate the details, both good and bad, you don't truly know how incredible this place is. I remember all the places I visited and the things I have done here, but I had forgotten how great this city makes me feel.

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