Athens has never been on my list of places to visit. Nor Greece, in fact. My visit depended entirely upon my mum's boyfriend getting a job there. He lives two minutes from Thissio train station, thirty seconds from a bakery and about five seconds from an ice cream shop. It's pretty much perfect. My boyfriend and I gladly followed Tom everywhere he walked, which led us to divine linguine carbonara, chocolate cheesecake, syrup-soaked and chocolate-hazelnut filled pastries and Agistri, an island very close to mainland Greece.
Going from the capital city to an island was enlightening. I suppose it is the same in every country - you have slow life and fast life. People are nicer where they get to move more slowly, and meaner where they are constantly rushing around. Still, rushing in Athens is nothing like rushing in London. People still have time to look around and take in their environment in Athens. That said, I didn't find people that nice, in general. I am becoming very tired of travelling as a black person in European countries. I am sick to death of having people stare at me. People going out of their damn way to turn their entire bodies and heads to look into my eyes with unfriendliness. There is a difference between curious staring and hostile staring. My fellow black travellers and I received more of the latter. It really upset me at some point, but I knew I just had to push past the discomfort.
That unfortunate aspect aside, I really must say how wonderful it is to build an entire city around a central landmark. The Acropolis was nearly constantly visible. Even while we watched an awful mid-20th century Italian film in an open-air cinema (Cine Thissio), we could see the elegant architecture of the Parthenon to our left. I don't care much for ancient history and I absolutely didn't want to pay 30 euros to look closely at old rocks so I did not see any of the Acropolis up close. I spent all my money on food instead, of course. I can't explain how good simple food tasted in Greece. Tomatoes tasted 100 times better than any I'd eaten before. Every Greek salad I ordered was topped with an entire slab of feta cheese. And I'd finish it. Even chips!!! Flippin' chips. Cooked in proper olive oil. Every day I think about the fact that I live on an island with crap weather with soil only good for growing onions and potatoes. Nothing wrong with onions and potatoes but imagine living somewhere bathed in sunlight where the soil sprouts olive trees and tomatoes? I really cannot believe that some people like Britain so much that they never make any attempt to leave it, even briefly. The world is too big, there are too many meals to eat for that kind of mentality. Besides, gyros are difficult to find in Britain, and that's reason enough to leave.
Athens offered me beaches and dinners in restaurants at 11pm and thunderstorms and sunshine and so many stray cats. But mostly it offered me the chance to feel extraordinary even while doing ordinary things. I don't know if it's common to all people to romanticise memories of sandy beaches and clear water in their minds, but all I know is that I have over 200 film prints of the colours blue and light brown and I am extremely thankful for that.
Photos taken on my Nikon EM and Samsung EXC1.