What is it that keeps us from falling in love? Is it just our initial judgment of looks? Maybe just a needed haircut or a couple fewer tattoos would have made a difference. Is it just a bad first impression? Perhaps it’s just a little too loud or the crowds of people that seem to always be hanging around. Was it just too soon after a previous affair that you weren’t quite over? Maybe you just couldn’t stop comparing to that recent favored love. Was it just the season? Were you so burnt by the summer heat that you just couldn’t motivate yourself to see beyond the obvious exterior characteristics?
Perhaps it is was just bad timing. You just weren’t ready to start a new relationship. Perhaps it is actually something within your own self. You find yourself in a bad mood and look for something to blame it on. Perhaps you are just being unfair. If you aren’t willing to put in the effort, how can love ever develop?
It’s difficult to understand why, but I never developed a love connection with Athens. Judging by the number of people in the full-to-the-brim cafes in the Plaka neighborhood or the excited crowds of people shopping in the famous flea market or the endless tour groups making their way up Acropolis Hill to see the wonders of the Parthenon, I am willing to accept that it had more to do with my sad mood after having just left Paris.
Judging from the way the people gather at the top of Mt. Lycabettus to watch the city light up as the sun sinks into the not too distant sea or the excitement showed by the tourists that gather to watch the changing of the guard in Syntagma Square or the happy faces of the young backpackers who gather every night on Areopagus Hill to watch the Parthenon brightly bathed in light until it appears to hover over the city, I am willing to accept that maybe my lack of love was due to my weariness that comes with traveling too much.
Judging from the way the music flows from the cafes and bars every evening in the Psyrri neighborhood or the smiles on the faces of the young people who gather in Monastiraki Square to watch the commotion or the enjoyment of the couples in the romantic cafes along the alleys just down the hill from Anafiotika, I’m willing to accept that it was probably just me.
We had a nice apartment, top floor of a 10 story building, with a balcony and great view over the northern part of the city. We only had a couple of block walk to the great metro system that takes you anywhere you want to go quickly and efficiently. We had the convenience, as seemingly everyone in Athens does, of great bakeries that sell all fashion of delectable goodness on every corner in the city. Prices of all manner of items were definitely fair and smiles were abundant everywhere we went.
We did have good days. We climbed the famous hills around the city, always looking for the best spot to enjoy the view of the green hills and bright white buildings below. We enjoyed ourselves touring the Olympic stadium area in the north of the city. We walked along the sea in the port city of Piraeus and loved the rooftop views from the beautiful National Library. The museums we went to were good and the remnants of great civilizations that are visible around every corner and under every step kept us interested daily.
Probably the heat was a major problem. Blazing late summer temperatures made walking unpleasant. Probably the end of season crowds diminished our enjoyment of areas that with a few less tourists would have been better. At times it seemed like all of Europe must be roaming the narrow streets of the historic downtown area. Probably our tiny budget made it impossible to escape the heat and commotion of the city. If we could have managed to board a ferry out to some of the beautiful islands Greece is so famous for, I’m certain our mood would have brightened.
Whatever the reason, Athens won’t be remembered as my favorite place I have visited. The Acropolis alone makes this a must-see destination for every serious traveler, so I doubt the city needs or cares about my opinion. As I observed, too many other people come here every year and have a great time. The city has 3 millennia of history waiting to be discovered and Athens will continue to draw crowds to see its wonders no matter what I thought for the relatively short time I visited.