It’s cliché but true—it was all Greek to me. I mean that literally and figuratively, because I was in Greece.
Imagine white washed homes perched on cliffs overlooking pristine beaches dancing with gentle waves of unbelievably turquoise water. The sun warms your skins as a gentle breeze caresses and cools your body. Sounds lovely, no?
I’m sure it would be, if I were on the Greek isles. A discount airline went to many Greek island destinations from Budapest. While those places looked beautiful, I’ve never been a sun worshipper. My Irish skin practically breaks out in hives just thinking about it.
I was in Athens.
I’m not sure how Athens found its way onto the top of my travel list, but it did all of a sudden. I’m not a history junkie—in fact, I may just be the opposite. I’ve even heard not-so-great things about the city over the years.
But there I was, in the Greek capital. The start of Western civilization. I was excited.
Yes, even a history reject like me gets tingles seeing the Parthenon and walking in the footsteps of Plato and Socrates. People I studied. People who seem just as mythical as Aphrodite and Zeus.
I’m not sure why the city gets a bad rap. I loved it.
Did I mention it’s the start of Western civilization?
It’s also a city, and that brings with it typical city stuff. For people like me, that’s good. For others, maybe not. One small but noticeable difference—there are stray cats roaming around the city. They look extremely healthy, so I didn’t realize at first they were strays. A few even kept guard at the Parthenon.
In addition, it’s a very low-lying city, which I really like. Nothing can be higher than the Acropolis. It’s similar to Washington, DC in that way. Budapest too. Athens feels very manageable and not overwhelming, even though there are about 665,000 people in the city proper and 3.75 million throughout the metropolitan area.
Plus, they know how to light up the city at night, which I love. Again, similar to Washington, DC and Budapest. (If I were a better photographer, I’d have some dramatic night shots to share. As I frequently say to my mom—“user error.”) They manage all of this around amazing historical sights.
Of course, the trip was not just about history. It was also about wine and food, and Athens did not disappoint.
From the flakiest spanakopita to the ubiquitous koulouri to an unexpected but delicious deconstructed lasagna, Greek food is flavorful and fresh. I even had one of the best hot chocolates I’ve ever had. (Okay, I had three over the course of my visit.) It had an amazing depth of chocolate flavor and a silky consistency.
Of course, I tested the wine too. A lot. It passed with flying colors again and again. And again. So did Greek hospitality, which is indeed a real thing.
There is so much to love about Athens. The city might not be the most striking woman at the party, but she sure is attractive and charming with an amazing depth of character, engaging stories, and an immense capacity for fun.