As we left Cyprus and headed to the ancient city of Athens, the realization that the trip was ending had ensued with the usual mixed emotions of being excited and happy to see people back home but sad to be done with a fun time. I was making my second trip to Athens and was excited to see how the city had changed after the 2004 Summer Olympic Games because I had visited previously in 1998 when I was studying in London. The city truly made dramatic improvements in my view.
When I first visited Athens in the fall of 1998, I remember it being very dirty and not the most traveler friendly city. It was more of a place where you went on your way to the islands for a day to see the Acropolis and Parthenon and then quickly move on. I have to say that I was really impressed by how well they cleaned up the city and made it nice and very traveler friendly. There were tons of outdoor cafes and new bar areas along with the great tourist sites.
We made the token trek up the Acropolis and saw the great Parthenon, I will have pictures up soon. From atop the central Acropolis, you can see everything in sprawling Athens. My favorite site is the original stadium from the 1896 Olympic games, better known as the first modern Olympic Games. They have closed it off to tourists for now but you can still get right up to it and peak inside. When I first visited years ago, it was open and we were able to go inside on the field and actually do a lap of the stadium as the ancient runners had done more than a century before.
After touring all day, we headed out in the brand new and very trendy Gazi District, which is very similar to something you would see in New Yorks Meatpacking District with rows of trendy bars charging inflated prices for basic drinks. My friend Mike had a friend from business school who lived in Athens who showed us a good time out. With the imminent threat of a very early flight, we didn’t stay out too late and made our way to Athens’ lovely new airport and were off.
Back in New York now, fighting jetlag, I haven’t had much time to really reflect on my trip but I do know it was a lot of fun with a lot of unique experiences set over numerous new places and some old favorites. I will certainly have much more in the coming days.