The Athens Diaries

Despite an ongoing, torrid love affair with Manchester and flirting with the idea of moving to either Berlin, Brussels or Barcelona (the alliteration is purely coincidental), Athens has always been and will continue to be my one and only true love.

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It is the city where all my flâneur tendencies began. I can walk the same streets day after day and never get bored.

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Even though sometimes I think that it is my self-imposed exile that keeps this whirlwind romance alive.

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Wandering in the streets of Athens’ city centre, especially in the summer, gives me the feeling that everything is going to be alright.

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I have been frequently asked whether Athens is a beautiful city. So let me divulge a well-kept secret…

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It’s not.

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Athens is the sexiest ugliest city (I’ve ever visited – I hate absolutes).

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It lacks proper urban planning and green spaces.

Its most beautiful or historic buildings are often left unattended.

It’s been severely hit by the politico-economic crisis.

(This list could go on and on…)

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But then the sun shines and somehow you forget about it.

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If I close my eyes all I can think is the Athenian sky. Akropolis. Living so close to the sea. Strong iced coffee. Narrow streets in the city centre, full of secret (and less secret) spots that locals love.

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Good looking strangers. Terrace bars. The electric atmosphere of Athenian nights. Being able to find food at any time of the day (sorry, I had to mention it). Street art. Makers markets. Open summer cinemas.

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Anafiotika, a small Aegean ‘village’ hidden at the roots of Akropolis. Small family-owned stores selling everything from herbs and spices to hand-made jewellery. People sitting in cafes, talking loudly with exaggerated hand gestures. Songs that praise this city. The quiet garden right next to the parliament, where you go and forget that you’re in the heart of the city.

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Geriatric couples holding hands. Teenage couples holding hands. Locals unanimously ignoring crosswalks. The Athenian sky once again.

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(This list could also go on and on.)

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It’s like falling in love with someone for their sense of humour instead of their good looks. Their wit, their intellect, their aura.

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It’s the ‘you’re not perfect but I love you’ kind of love. Because, deep down, you know that you’re not perfect either.

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Slightly non-sensical, I know. But so is Athens.

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In love (as always),

F.

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