I had the pleasure of spending a week in Athens, Greece in October. Not all of it looked this pretty, the area our hotel was in was particularly grotty, but the weather was beautiful, and there was a lot to see and do. It’s a shame the ancient ruins are so, ruined. But it’s still awe-inspiring to stand beneath towering columns built two and a half thousand years ago and imagine how incredible it would have been to arrive into this ancient city. It’s a very different world today, but you can still step through the time-portal when you enter the Acropolis through the Propylaea and walk past the Erechtheum with it’s beautifully preserved Caryatids (female figures) to the Parthenon. The sheer scale of the parthenon is amazing and it’s incredible that it’s still standing after such a long and troubled history – being bombarded during the siege of 1687 while it was being used as a gunpowder store by the Turks not least of all. There’s huge, ongoing repair, preservation and restoration work at the moment so hopefully some of it’s former beauty can be restored.
One of the other significant injuries the Parthenon suffered was at the hands of Lord Elgin, who in 1801 removed many of the sculptures and sent them to England, where they reside to this day at the British Museum. Something the Greeks regard as theft and are still, understandably sore about to this day. Here’s a good article about it from national Geographic.
We stayed at the ‘Ambrosia Suites‘ near Omonia Square. Can’t say I’d recommend it, but if it suits your budget, it wasn’t the worst either. Not quite. The room smelled of smoke, the bed was like a plank and the breakfast was awful – we tried it the first morning and then ate out for the rest of the holiday. The streets around the hotel were very grotty and inhabited by dodgy looking character 24 hours a day. Athens in general and our area in particular was throbbing with loud bikes racing around till all hours – I’m a big fan of bikes and have been known to have loud pipes myself, but jaysus! Athenians take it too far. Anyway, we never had ANY trouble there, or anywhere in Athens – we never saw anyone who seemed vaguely threatening even in the worst areas – which is more than you could say for Dublin.
The hotel was just 3 minutes walk from Omonia Square which was quite nice and had cafe-bars, a subway station a supermarket and lots of great coffee shops and bakeries, where we got the day started with pastries and espresso. It was a comfortable walk from here to anywhere in Athens, so you could do a lot worse than stay around this area.