I arrived in Athens Saturday evening after an uneventful journey by various trains and an airplane from Firenze. Again, I found it surprising that there was no customs to greet me; however, I suspect that since I was arriving from Italy, another member of the European Union, that such issues were of no consideration for our flight. Getting from the airport to the hotel was as easy as taking the metro to Monastiraki station and walking a few blocks up to my hotel.
The next morning I was up, like all good travelers, to get out and see the city. Good for Greece but bad for me is the fact that they are in the middle of elections; consequently, all national sites were closed on Sunday. In some ways this worked out for the best as it provided me a reason to just walk the city and see some of the sites that I may not have seen otherwise. Some 15 kilometers later I had walked a goodly portion of the neighborhoods, parks and even national cemetery. I ended my walk at Lycabettus Hill which overlooks all of Athens where I stopped to take in the view and enjoy some Greek coffee.
Today I again awoke early, but this time all the national sites are open to visitors. Yeah! But because so many people could not see them yesterday they are all visiting them today. Boo! Frankly, there are so few tourists that it is really quite nice since you have much of the place to yourself. It is certainly warm enough to not require a jacket even if I do see people walking around in winter coats; I suspect this a difference between people acclimated to warmer climes and people like myself who are not.
Athens in some very ways reminds me of Napoli. There is a lot of graffiti nearly everywhere you look; however, I did find nooks and grannies of neighborhoods that did not show any evidence of tagging. Unlike Napoli and Italy in general, people smile while out and about; this I find a pleasant change. In the evenings when people are out and about at cafes is when the city really comes alive. Every cafe and every restaurant is as much outdoors as it is indoors. At times it is hard to discern where one restaurant begins and ends given that all the tables and chairs just flow together into a long river of linens and silverware. My only regret is not being able to see the rest of Greece.
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