It is Saturday night in Athens, where I spent the last week, attending two conferences in a row, and this was in quite an offline state. Seven days of no mobile Internet connection, as the switch of mobile phone providers last month messed up my contract and Orange does not allow me to go online abroad, yet. A new experience.
On top of that, it seems like I brought the London weather with me. Athens has only about 55 days of rain per year. I experienced seven of them.
So after spending most of the week in meeting rooms, and seeing the city only through the hotel and bus window, or from under my umbrella, I tried to play catch up on all the touristy stuff today. With the help of an ‘analog’ map, I found my way up the Acropolis Hill to give the Parthenon a closer look. O.k. two colleagues of mine had a part in that, too.
But I have to admit the Parthenon wasn’t as breathtaking as I had hoped. Unfortunately, most of this almost 2500-year-old monument is covered in scaffolding and a lot of the stone parts are laying around in no noticeable order. It was quite challenging to take photos that do not show the crane and scaffold. And the sad part is that apparently this has been the status quo for about 20 years. I guess Greeks just take their time. The best part of the “Acropo’dopo’lopolis” was actually the view over the city.
After a fun Kodak Treasure Hunt in Plaka on Tuesday, I came back to this beautiful old part of town one more time today – taking photos of everything during daylight.
Another part of town I really liked is Gazi, a quite new museum/cultural center in Athens. It is full of restaurants, cafes, music, and art by the old city gas-works. There we had a latte in one of the coolest cafés ever – the Gazi College Catery.
Architecturally and visually, Athens looks ugly on a first glimpse – graffiti on any surface that can be sprayed on, and most of the apartment buildings are post 1960s! But on a closer look you notice some amazing old houses from the early part of the century – most of them in urgent need of some new paint though.
And I also made some very good restaurant discoveries this week, thanks to the well-organized evening programs of the conferences:
Definitely worth a visit is the restaurant ELAIA in the Plaka. It has a lovely rooftop terrace from where you can view the Acropolis Hill while enjoying your ‘Variety of Grilled Meat” or sweet Greek deserts like Baklava, Kadaifi and Galaktoboureko – that is, if it isn’t raining. Here is the view:
Another restaurant tip is the Istioploikos at Mikrolimano coast at Piraeus, the port of Athens where we had a delicious seafood dinner with yummy desert while drinking an awesome Moschofilero.
The highlight of the week was certainly the awards dinner at Vorres Museum and Art Gallery. Enjoying Greek delights in the middle of paintings and sculptures by leading Greek artists of the second half of the 20th century, was just an experience itself.
If you haven’t been here, yet I’d recommend you check out this city, but don’t come in February, unless you like it cold. I learned today this tends to be the coldest month of the year – I agree.