I had felt Athens before I was able to see it. Once upon a time Athens was populated by one of the most creative civilizations of the entire history. Ancient Greeks gave us the most beautiful mythology in the world. It was the first book I ever read in my childhood and one of the most alluring. Greek culture relates in my mind to the muses with delicate feet, who bathe their soft complexions in violet-blue springs and perform beautiful dances, while they sing for the Gods.
Ovid tells us about Cronus (whom the Romans called Saturn) in an evocative way. He was the God of the Golden Age, a time when people treated each other fairly. It was a poetic, an utopian world. There were no military fortifications or soldiers. Earth used to bear fruits and grains for which people did not labor. There were rivers of milk and honey and sweet nectar dripped from the trees. It was also always springtime.
Athena (Roman Minevra) was the goddess after which this inspiring city was named. Homer describes her as bright-eyed, keen-minded and strong hearted, pure and powerful virgin. The Great Sea God Poseidon disputed with Athena who should grace the marvelous city. Both Poseidon and Athena offered the Greek people a gift. Poseidon made a salty spring, while Athena presented them with the olive tree – they could eat the olives, make olive oil and use the timber. Thus Athena became the patron of the polis, which was named after her Athens. During the summer festival ancient residents celebrated her, by marching through the city and up the Acropolis. Nowadays Athens is buzzing with festivals for art lovers, curators, photographers, theater, ballet, jazz, classical music, opera and even ancient drama. Residents even celebrate the full moon in August with a number of events.
Visiting the Acropolis
Seeing the city from the Acropolis is one of the best experiences in Athens. It was frankly the whitest city I have seen. The Acropolis itself, perched high above Athens is quite a landmark of world heritage – a collection of temples in which the Ancient Greeks celebrated their Gods. It is built with exquisite perfection. The people honored Virgin Athena in a great temple, the Parthenon, where a statue of Athena made of gold and ivory, was the object of special devotion. I saw the Parthenon I was practically able to touch it. Urban dictionary gives us a different use of the word Parthenon – in teen slang it means something that is amazing, awesome as cool as the Goddess Athena, whom everybody loved for her bravery and wisdom. The Parthenon is a huge marble sacred place and it is also the renowned birth place of democracy. The Greeks have created this form of government, and the word “democracy” literally means “the power of the people.”
When I visited the Acropolis – it was going under tremendous restoration. Even so it inspires people with its beauty and dignity. The view from above helps you experience the majestic vibe of this incredible, dove-white city.
Napping in the Park
The National Garden of Athens enticed me with its charms. In days gone by it was called the Royal Garden for good reasons – it is one of the most imposing parks that I have seen. There are little ponds with golden fishes, fountains and different huge plants and small animals. There reside motley parrots, peacocks with hundreds of eyes, happy pigeons and ducks. It was a warm day, the National Garden is a tranquil place, except for the classical music of nature. We allowed ourselves a nap on the grass, since we were very tired of the flight. When I opened my eyes, a turtle was slowly passing right in front of them, and that’s certainly better than a 3D movie experience. Animals in the National Garden are used to people and they are such splendid and friendly creatures.
Great food in the streets
Greeks take what they eat and the preparation of their food very seriously. It is an honor for a restaurant, and the highest praise to say that its food is spitiko (homemade). They are very concerned with the quality and freshness of their food. They consume more olive oil than any other nation and cheese is the other staple of the Greek diet. They serve olives with hand-made bread and they fry their cheese. Athens is spectacular with its street food – the original Greek Souvlaki – a variant of a spicy döner-kebab, I have to say it’s delightful.
Going for a frappe
It was summertime and the Athenians were in their summer mode – less work and more fun. The Greeks are a culture that drinks coffee and wine – and in that they remind us of the Italians. Name the coffee you drink at home, chances are this Greek café will offer it. But what I wanted to try was frappe (iced coffee the way Greeks have it,) and the truth is, their frappe is good! Greek coffee has got super powers – it is good for the heart, it’s a strong brew, it’s the best way to socialize with Greek people.
When you meet an Athenian, you should know that the world revolves around them. They feel like direct descendants of their illustrious ancient ancestors, and they will do mostly anything to treat you as a guest.
I have familiarized with the Greek people during one of my travels to Chicago, when I was a waitress in a Greek café. Everybody drinks their Greek coffee in a different way, the same unique recipe every day. The visitors were regular, lovable and generous they taught me to say “kalimera” (good morning) and “kalispera” (good evening). The Greeks also bid each other “kalimena” on the first day of the month, and it means “have a happy month!”
For the lovers of peace and nice coffee, before you know it, you will be enamored with Athens, and its eloquent science.