Top 7 reasons I love living in Athens
By: Bex (Rebecca Hall)
- The coffee culture
I love going to a coffee shop and spending two or three hours, taking time over one coffee, with no pressure to purchase another…and another…and another. The Greeks know how to sit down and take life in its stride, no drinking coffee on the run! It’s to be savoured and enjoyed. Hell, even some of the Starbucks are located in beautiful neo-classical buildings with peaceful back gardens.
Also being able to go out at midnight and drink a hot chocolate, with no pressure from friends to drink alcohol. And because Greece does not have this ‘drink to get drunk’ mentality, it’s very rare to find drunken people in the streets or on public transport. People drink in a civilized manner and alcoholic beverages are always served with crisps or nuts.
- The street art
I can be ambling along the streets, and come across amazing street art (Pic 1). Art like this can give Banksy a good run for his/her money! To my mind, so long as it’s not unsightly swear words, it’s a positive outlet for the frustration of youngsters, plus can make an otherwise very dull 1950’s building (of which there are many in Athens) more interesting…dare I say brighten it up?
- The random architecture
Yes OK, Athens has its fair share of ugly buildings, but you can be wandering down Athenian side streets and be greeted by these facades (Pic 2) and these balconies (Pic 3) Talk about contrasts! I feel very lucky to live in a city with such history and beauty in unexpected places.
- The beaches
There aren’t many capital cities in Europe that can boast about its location. Athens is one of them: it’s located on the coast, meaning you can take a bus trip to Sounion (about two hours in duration) if you want to see the Temple of Poseidon, or public transport in the form of the tram to go to one of the many beaches in the Attica region. I love to hop on the public transport from Syntagma (Parliament) Square and within 45 minutes, I can be by the coast. And the ride is interesting too.
- The outdoor cinemas
Having seen the movie “Grease,” I though all outdoor cinemas were the ones where you drive them, park your car and see lots of teens making out. So when a female Greek friend of mine suggested we go and see a Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr in “An Affair to Remember” in an outdoor cinema, I looked at her a little askance. All was revealed when we arrived at our destination.
Far from being the drive-up and park-up kinds, the summer outdoor cinemas in Greece are an experience in themselves, regardless of which movie is playing. Located in most neighbourhoods as well as the centre, they can be found on rooftops of supermarkets, behind walled gardens and one big one in Zappion Gardens, the Parliament Gardens. My favourites are Cine Paris, a rooftop cinema right in the centre of Athens with views to the Acropolis (be sure o get there early so you can bag yourself a miniature balcony all to yourself). Cine Thisio is my second favourite (this has actually been voted one of the top 10 cinemas in the world by CNN). A garden cinema, it’s located the other side of the Acropolis, again with magnificent views.
All the cinemas show both old classics and modern Hollywood blockbusters—these are usually shown in Greece before the U.K. due to the American influence in Greece. There is always an interval of approximately 10 minutes and you can purchase wine, beer and even cocktails. There’s nothing more pleasant than spending an evening watching a good film in great surroundings. But be warned: you might not get to see too much of the film as you’ll be in awe of the view too much!
- The straight forwardness of the Greeks
Moving away from the aesthetics and onto the actual locals: there are some great Greek sayings, ranging from (literal translation) “A dog licks its balls because it can” (I still haven’t quite figured that one out yet) to “Agappy mou!”—“My love!” This must be proclaimed in a high pitched squeak, even by men, accompanied by much hair ruffling and clucking in general. This expression is usually reserved for children, but older neighbours have also addressed me in this manner, also accompanied by the cheek pulling. The Greek language leaves you in no doubt as to where you stand.
- They know how to live life
Despite what the Greeks are going through, they still know how to live life. Family is sacrosanct to them, friendships are important and there is still a love of life that exists…albeit a little worn down of late. Take “apokries,” or carnival. Greeks love to get dressed up and partake in street parades at this time of year: young, old, male, female. Inhibitions do not exist! And as you can see, the effect wears off onto you too.
Opa Elada—long live Greece!
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Contest Comments » There are 7 comments
These are seven really good reason - but not necessarily in the right order! Lovely article, thank you.
I am from Greece and i grew up in Athens but i had to move to Qatar. Reading this wonderful article about my city make me feel proud and filled me with a sweet sadness! Thank you!!
Love this! Love the photos.
How true, and how well put! The photos are great, too.
This post made me miss Athens quite a bit. I only lived there for one year, but it made a life-long impression on me. I'm actually hoping to return for a quick visit this summer. Everything you said was just spot on. Points 1, 3, 6, and 7 all ring especially true. Haha, but then I just re-read it and added all of them to the list! Thanks for this great list!
Completely agree...I miss Athens every day ... Bravo Bex, again love your words...
Great read, I haven't been to Athens - yet - however I am now considering a trip there this summer. I love the laid back lifestyle that most of Wurope has so I think it will be somewhere I will enjoy visiting