The contrast of a city with two stories
I started my immersion in Athens with the Syntagma Square, where is located the Greek parliament. It is in this square that Greeks are meeting in the evening to protest against “austerity”. This is a place full of contemporary history, frustrations and hope. The Greek people are suffering for several years and do not see the light at the end of the tunnel but continue however to live and struggle every day. The square is lively; people are sipping iced coffees and talking about the last political and sport jolts. I recommend you the iced coffee of the Ace bar where we you find old posters of the Tour de France and of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The national garden, on the right side of the parliament, is a real peaceful heaven in the centre of this bustling city. Two big palm trees and green tunnels create shade and a few onlookers are taking a walk in this place out of time. This is the start of an essential historical (and of course touristic) tour. Follow small paths and enjoy the historical places of Athens, avoiding the flows of tourists. Pass by the Zappeion (former Exhibition Center), the vestiges of the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the must-see Acropolis and finally the Ancient Agora.
Leaving the Agora and the ancient history behind you, you will soon come across the modern history of the city. If you take the time to walk around in the streets of Kerameikos, Metaxougeio, Psyrri and Exárcheia, the anarchist neighborhood, you will discover the face of a completely different city.
You will find hundreds of pieces of street art (in the Sari Street for example), alternative cafés (Ag. Anagyron Street) where Athenians meet to talk about their society (just like the Agora of old times), but also gardens and terraces. Take a moment to sip a cold drink on the beautiful terrace of the Papagalos, play Greek board games, or simply admire the square (6 Giatrakou Street). In Athens, the street is a way of expressing yourself and protesting but also a place for sharing and helping each other. Take your time, walk around in the original little streets and you will feel, like me, the paradox of this city with a powerful heritage that is now getting through a difficult time.
The crisis, the flows of migrants and the emergence of a new poverty did not erase the charms of this country, the importance of its history, the kindness of its people and the beauty of its islands. We have to keep traveling to Greece to help the touristic activity, real cornerstone of an economy that every European has to support.
Kea Island – Cyclades – Greece
Into the Tribe will do a trip in Kea this summer ! Subscribe to the waiting list on the home page (www.intothetribe.com) to get the latest news about this trip.