Athens, I’m Just Not That Into You

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Dear Athens,

It was never supposed to end up this way between us.

We were supposed to fall deeply, madly in love. I was supposed to adore you, with all your history and culture. We were supposed to make incredible memories together. I was supposed to go home and make everyone jealous of my time spent with you.

Athens, Greece

I wanted to love you, Athens. I really did. Ever since I was old enough to be interested in history, yours has been one that's fascinated me. Gods and goddesses; philosophers; music; art; ancient ruins — these are the things I fantasized about when I thought of you.

Athens, Greece

I looked forward to visiting you. I wanted to prove all the people wrong who told me you've gone downhill during Greece's financial struggles. I wanted to find interesting and beautiful parts of you to share with people who are wary of visiting you these days.

I wanted to highlight your redeeming qualities, Athens.

Athens, Greece

But damn, you made it hard.

As soon as I arrived, I had that sinking feeling that things just weren't going to work out between us.

As superficial as it sounds, you really weren't much of a looker. Your streets were dingy, your buildings weren't pretty, and all the cool ruins were nowhere to be seen.

And, to top it all off, you were bloody HOT Athens — and we're not talking “hot” in an attractive way. We're talking “hot” in an “I-couldn't-step-outside-without-wanting-to-pass-out” kind of way.

Athens, Greece
No escape from the sun.

Yes, Athens, you left quite a bit to be desired.

It seemed like for every positive thing I saw in you, there was a negative lying in wait just around the corner to cancel it out.

For example:

While the hotel I stayed in was modern and clean and had a rooftop bar and pool with amazing views, the staff was rude, the air conditioning didn't work, and it was way too expensive.

Athens, Greece
View from our hotel's roof.

While I enjoyed shopping and roaming around Monastiraki Square in your Old Town, the walk to get there was a bit sketchy, and it was so crowded at night.

Athens, Greece

While walking through your Ancient Agora in the steps of greats like Socrates and Aristotle was cool, the ruins that remain there weren't as impressive as I'd hoped.

Athens, Greece

Athens, Greece

While I enjoyed looking out over your basin-shaped valley from the spot where St. Paul first preached to your people about the Unknown God, the air was a bit hazy and the sun unbearably hot.

Athens, Greece

Athens, Greece

While standing atop the Acropolis WAS amazing, standing in a huge line to do so in 115-degree weather was not. The day I was there, it was so hot that they CLOSED the Acropolis in the afternoon.

Athens, Greece

Athens, Greece
The lines/crowds were insane.

While seeing the Parthenon was cool, seeing it covered in scaffolding and swarming with people was not.

Athens, Greece

Athens, Greece
Not very attractive.

The only things about you I liked without any caveats were watching your amusing changing of the guard ceremony, and eating mounds of frozen Greek yogurt in attempts to cool down.

Athens, Greece

Athens, Greece

If I'm being completely honest, I actually hated you while I was with you, Athens. I found myself in a sour mood, eager to move on to the next destination and leave your oppressive heat and ugliness behind.

Athens, Greece

Looking back on our brief relationship now, though, I'm not quite so angry; I can appreciate the things we saw and did together. I can be somewhat in awe of your history and ancient ruins. I can admit that there was more of you that I would have liked to see if it hadn't been so hot and if I'd had more time.

But, while I might be convinced to give you a second chance someday, I'm not very optimistic that things will ever work out between us.

I'm sorry, Athens, but I'm just not that into you.



Have you been to Athens? If so, what did you think of it? If not, has there ever been a city that let you down like this?

*Note: I visited Athens as part of a discounted 9-day Classic Balkan Trek tour with Busabout. All opinions (obviously) are my own.

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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132 Comments on “Athens, I’m Just Not That Into You

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  1. You just didn’t visit Athens the way it should be visitiled. Yes, Athens can be urban, with street art, crowded areas etc.and some people enjoy that. But even if you’re not this type of person, Athens is about tradition, not views. Yes you can visit the Acropolis and the museums, but it’s more about the history and being in the actual place that’s been untouched yet preserved all these years. It’s about the walks in the narrow streets of Plaka and of course the great food and the people. If you’ve done all that, you should then head to the islands for the views, the cool weather, etc.

      Or it could just be that Athens isn’t one of my “places.” We all connect to destinations differently; we can’t all love the same places for the same reasons. There are other cities I’ve had this disconnect with, too (like Amsterdam), and I’m not sure that any amount of visits will make me fall in love with cities that I just don’t click with!

      I agree with Dimitris. You need to know about a place to appreciate it. I am a classics major so for me it was the thrill of a lifetime because I stood on the Pnyx and could visualize the trial of Socrates happening before me. I understood the foundations of democracy were built here and that itself was SO MOVING. I mean we are talking about a city that is over 3400 years old. Time takes it’s toll on a city and a civilization. Nevertheless, I’m glad it wasn’t Disneyfied. We went in May because ALL the research we did told us not to go in the summer…and it still was a little warm, but not unbearably so.

      We also had rude people at the hotel we stayed at but wonderfully helpful people who called a cab for us and made sure we weren’t overcharged by the driver. They were wonderful. I think you need to get away from tour groups to experience that side of a city.

      We’ve traveled quite a bit as well and have learned three things.
      1)Read and research before you go
      2)Go off season for both less crowds and better temperatures and prices
      3)Avoid tour groups if you really want to get to know a place.

      We recently visited Granada in March and it was perfect.

    Absolutely Amanda, Athens is a disgustingly filthy dump with cranky people such a disappointment. If I wanted dirty I could have gone to Asia and skipped the long flight. Sadly I’m here for a month and struggling to find a reason to leave the apartment.

      Sorry to hear that! I do know some other people who have enjoyed Athens – maybe try to find some of their posts to see what they did to enjoy it so much!

      What really bothers me is the unfriendliness of the people, faking politeness for profit in all gestures of life.
      In the wake of the Greek crisis this has taken huge dimensions without saying it was not there all along…now though it is a one-way street.
      Since living in Greece, I have clearly seen how the locals ‘categorize’ foreign visitors to the tourists where they fake politeness for business and profit and all others that they mistreat, oppress and exclude consistently as ‘non Greeks’ that they want to share nothing with…the reason I understand all this is because I am Greek and not just a holiday visitor.
      Unfortunately I would only recommend Athens, as a short stop over to see the antiquities and nothing more and that strictly not in July or August where it is impossible to walk at 35-40C for hours under the sun.

    I’m just leaving Athens and was wondering if other people had experienced the awful treatment from 99% of Athenians as I did (so I googled it and found this post). I have travelled a bit and lived abroad, now I live in my hometown, São Paulo. I’m quite shocked at how rude Greek people in touristy cities and towns can be to travellers. Made me feel really unwelcome and awkward. It was nice to see the ruins and learn something about the places I visited and all, but I do not plan to come back. What’s with the attitude Athens?

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