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Athens is beautiful

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London, UK
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Athens is beautiful

I'm starting a new thread, rather than have this all-important topic get lost at the end of the "Is Athens Safe" thread. It's in response to the two posters who say, on that thread, that Athens isn't a beautiful city.

Athens is beautiful, if you know where to look and how to look. Despite the depredations of the speculative building boom of the 60s and 70s, there are still plenty of good neoclassical houses left, and many have been beautifully restored. All you have to do is look out for them - and look up, past the street- level shops.

The panoramic views of the city from the Acropolis, or from Lycabettos, or - most of all - from Philoppapos Hill, are stunning on a bright day, and simply incredible at sunset. The views of the Acropolis itself, from the Pnyx or Philoppapos, are heart-stopping.

And Athens is a GREEN city. The hills - Acropolis, Pynx, Philoppappos and Aereopagitos offer endless opportunities for walking in green spaces, beautifully landscaped and planted.

The grafitti, which the two posters mentioned, deserve a closer look. Some of them are excellent: skilled, witty, colourful, adding real interest to the concrete walls, and worth a closer look.

The vast improvements made in Athens during the last ten years - the metro, the pedestrianisation of huge areas, the wonderful archaeological park - have made it a very different city from the nefos-choked hell of the past.

Athens is not beautiful as Paris is beautiful, or Prague, or Dresden, but it has a strength and a grandness of its own, and to compare it to the Bronx in the 70s is unjust.


Athens, Greece
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for Peloponnese, Athens
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1. Re: Athens is beautiful

Great post!

Even underground it's an amazing city, with the clean & efficient metro system & the archaelogical remains &/or displays at some of the stations makes it even better (an idea for sightseeing on a rainy day?)

I love the views from the various hills too, but most of all there is something about the relaxed atmosphere for a capital city. Lingering over a coffee & just watching the world go by slowly (apart from the traffic, lol!), spending hours enjoying a meal, so many places to walk where it's hard to believe you're in the middle of a metropolis, history never far away with sites visible from so many places & discovering the lesser known ones.

Love it!

Athens, Greece
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2. Re: Athens is beautiful

Hi, Madridlover! You've covered everything - I'd insert a smily face and a thumbs up, but I don't think it's possible on this forum! But never mind - it's 17 degrees outside - woohoo!! Happy Christmas everyone!!

Athens, Greece
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3. Re: Athens is beautiful

Hi Yiassas! You're absolutely right - that's exactly what a friend and I did one Sunday in February when she'd come from the uk for a visit and it was raining. Some of the stations are like mini museums - everything is so well displayed and you can take it all in without feeling overwhemed by the info. There's a new display at Holargos, now, too, where the new metro station opened recently.

South Pole
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for Lesbos, Zagorohoria
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4. Re: Athens is beautiful

Thanks for posting something positive! I have not yet visited Athens, & despite all the doom & gloom written on here I will go with an open mind when I do & a determination to see the bests aspects of what must be an amazing city.

The majority of negative posts on any subject probably emanate from "glass half-empty" people. Genuine, substantiated, grievances can be sympathised with, but if you go looking for bad, you will find it. And it will often bite you!

Perfection, in many cultures, is regarded as undesirable as it is an offence to the Gods for man to aspire to be faultless. Even the most valuable Persian Carpet has an error woven into it for this very purpose but unless you go looking for it you will not see it.

Oslo, Norway
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for Oslo, Naxos, Norway
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5. Re: Athens is beautiful

I second the opinions given above. I have been travelling to Athens for many years and I'm falling increasingly more and more in love with this city. Walk behind the mainstream, feel the atmosphere and get to know the citizens.

Go with an open mind and allow yourself enough time to get the feeling of the city.

Like Paris, London or NYC all have their own, so does Athens. Just allow yourself to find it - not just passing through.

Cincinnati, Ohio
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6. Re: Athens is beautiful

Kudos to you for starting this thread. Lovely views, excellent museums, superb metro with mini-museums at many stops, little lanes to meander through in the central core, yes, I agree that Athens is beautiful. But it is not an overly-obvious beauty, such as that offered by many cities located right on the water; it requires some seeking. Unfortunately, not everyone bothers to do so.

To me, having only visited twice so far, the creation of the central pedestrian-only (or mainly) zone was a stroke of genius which permits the visitor truly to relax and have the opportunity to relish the atmosphere.

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7. Re: Athens is beautiful

Thank you, thank you everyone, for stirring some sunny memories on a cloudy bone-chilling day here in Philly.

The mention of views from places like Pnyx reminded me of a balmy day last May, I had an afternoon in Athens before taking yet another ferry ... wandered into the Ancient Agora, in search of the REAL Socrates prison. Found it, under trees, stones overgrown with grass, flowers and vines. I sat on a little hummock of grass, drank a lemonade, listened to birds and thought I'm in the middle of a huge city, a world capital, and it feels like a pasture somewhere. How lucky this is still here.

Then I wandered out of a gate, turned right, turned left, got lost, saw a salmon-pink building, walked in the door and ... it was the Melina Mercouri foundation. On every wall, her stunning face -- acting, exhorting, protesting, leading, educating -- awakening Greece to new pride in its ancient heritage, creating policies to protect it. I had found the 20th Century Athena.

As I left, I saw graffiti on one side of the building. A twinge of anger, but then realization, the inside is untouched, still beautifu. And so it is, with Athens.

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8. Re: Athens is beautiful

I can't think of a single city that is totally beautiful. Athens does have its ropy areas and the graffiti has annoyed me for years but I still love it, just as I do London (which remains my favourite city - sorry, guys!). I think it's easy for visitors to any city to forget that people live and work there. Sometimes expectations are too high.

Athens, Greece
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9. Re: Athens is beautiful

i was comparing parts of athens to the bronx circa 70's. i have been to both. the bronx in the 70's (and more recently) and i travel to and stopover in athens most months. i am simply saying what i see, athens is many things, fun, lively vibrant, great people, but i personally would never describe it as beautifull.

this forum is supposed to be realistic and give realistic advice to travellers.

in my opinion your description of athens is far from this.

Devizes, United...
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10. Re: Athens is beautiful

Yes, there are miles of non-descript, low-rise suburbs but that's no different from any other major city. Take London - it's sights and "must sees" are scattered across it's length and breadth whereas most of Athens great sights are pretty much contained within one square mile or so of the city centre which makes it easy for visitors to explore without relying heavily upon public transport or having to walk for miles.

This forum IS realistic, and offers great advice to posters looking for info - many Athenians frequent the forum and offer first class and totally up-to-date info - other such as Traveller Jan, Yiassas, Greek-traveller, Cinti and myself have visited the city many times and can offer advice based on our individual experiences.

You're entitled to your opinion of course but there are certainly some lovely parts of Athens and those that are not so lovely, like any city, but I wouldn't let the "not so lovely" areas overrule those that are lovely.