dehner: new worlds

Travelogue: Athens

People told me that Athens was, at best, "an ugly woman you might eventually come to love." I thought it exceeded its reputation as a dirty, boring city, though it didn't really compare to some of the other destinations Greece had to offer.



Even the nicest parts of Athens have lots of charmingly decayed houses, like these. Several of them had piles of weed-covered construction supplies in their courtyards. I wondered if that was a result of the financial crisis, or the more every day problem of people not realizing quite how much effort it takes to flip a house.

Untitled
Untitled


I don't know why I was surprised that you can see the Acropolis from everywhere in Athens -- it is built on the highest hill in the city, after all. I would get childishly excited every time I saw it.

Untitled


Although the historical significance of the Acropolis is indisputable, I didn't think it had much atmosphere. The ropes keep you pretty far away from most of the buildings, which I guess is important when so many thousands of people swarm the site every day. Still, I was a little heartbroken that I couldn't get any closer to the Caryatids. Of course, I'm glad we visited, but it didn't have the emotional impact of some other ruins.


Untitled

Untitled

Untitled


The Temple of Zeus was my favorite site in Athens. Walk a few hundred meters from an incredibly busy road, and here is this giant, empty field filled with soaring columns. Almost no one else was there. Alone with the heat and the wind, we could imagine the awe this place must have inspired.

I was trying to resist the urge for weird photo effects, but they just worked for this place. These are from my Hipstamatic app if anyone is curious.

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Next up: Aegina travelogue!
wow, these photographs are AMAZING. I have always wanted to go to Greece. I can vicariously experience that thrill with you. The way the acropolis is framed off in the distance in the greenish shot of the temple of Zeus!! WOW.

thanks for sharing!

Did you find Greece cheap, expensive, middling??
Thank you for the kind words! I love photography so much, but my everyday life doesn't give me many opportunities to practice it. Glad to know I can still take good pictures!

I was actually shocked at how cheap Greece was, at least in comparison to other places I've visited in Europe. Our expenses averaged out to $140/day for two people's lodging, food, local transportation, and sightseeing. We also spent about $175 each on ferry tickets, and a little extra (I forget how much) when we rented a car on Crete. Our hotel rooms and apartments were always simple but clean and cost between $45 and $65/night. For lunch, we usually had something simple like crepes or sandwiches, which was around $10 - $15 for the two of us. At dinner, all the dishes were big enough to split, so we usually shared an appetizer, a salad, and an entree for a total of $30-35. To be fair, we sidestepped some of the biggest tourist destinations, where expenses probably would have been higher, and we quickly tired of churches and museums, so we did not pay many admission fees. Still, I think we would have spent a lot more vacationing in the United States. (Plane tickets, of course, were pretty pricy - we saved about $300 on each ticket by flying into Istanbul instead of Athens, but it was still about $1200 each.)
That was my impression of Athens too, when I was there 10+ years ago. It was thrilling at first, especially when I discovered I could see the Acropolis from my hotel room, and it was all lit up. But mostly, the city was dirty and confusing. But I liked the part where all the restaurants were - Plaka?
We did have some excellent food in Athens, some of my favorite meals of the trip. And honestly, it was quite a relief to go there after Istanbul, if only for the relatively sane drivers! But yeah, in comparison to the rest of Greece, it's not a very special place.
Such gorgeous pictures -- I would love to go to Greece! Do either of you speak Greek, or could you get by on English/other languages?
There was virtually no language barrier at all in Greece! I had studied a teeny tiny bit of the language before we left, but I didn't really need it. Occasionally, when we went to very small towns, our hotel owner didn't speak any English, but for the most part, people could at least get by and a lot of people are fluent. No one seemed at all annoyed or upset that we couldn't speak the language. I was glad that I learned how to read the alphabet though -- occasionally road signs or ferry destination lists were only written in Greek.
Gorgeous photos -- you're totally right about the odd effects being perfect for ancient ruins.

My grandmother went to Athens way back when, shortly after she and my grandfather were married. I have her diary from the trip; among other things, she recommends against trying to climb the Acropolis in a girdle :D