Is Athens a Dump?

Old May 10th, 2004, 11:28 PM
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Is Athens a Dump?

I recently read an article on Athens leading up to the Olympics, and the author said that Athens was Europe's ugliest capital. He said it was a dump full of half finished or half demolished buildings. I just wanted to know from people who've been there, is it really that bad?
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Old May 10th, 2004, 11:42 PM
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I think that is an overstatement. Having said that, I don't like it at all. (Sorry, Bill)
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Old May 11th, 2004, 12:42 AM
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I returned about two weks ago and Yep the place is not looking too crash hot and a guide I was speaking too said that Athens is now the most expensive capital in the EU (unverified statement !),the pavements are ripped up and there are street signs missing . BUT.... standing on the top of our hotel with a glass of Calliga Ruby watching the sunset bath the Acropolis in gold was....special.
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Old May 11th, 2004, 03:09 AM
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With the possible exception of the Byzantine museum (OK, and at a pinch, the original modern era Olympic stadium. And yes, there are a few lovely churches), practically nothing built in Athens since about 200 AD has much going for it.

Moreover quite a lot of what's supposed to have been built, still isn't.

But so what? It has some of the world's most impressive classical-era buildings and a fantastic museum. Complaining about the fact that much of the rest is unprepossessing is about as sensible as moaning that New York's full of tall buildings, or that it's tough to sunbathe in London.

If Athens' 5th century BC stuff doesn't appeal, best stay away. If it does, just ignore the rest. Life, after all, is about what works, not about what doesn't.
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Old May 11th, 2004, 04:40 AM
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Umm.. Athens has a lot of unfinished buildings. They are called ruins and that is why you go.

I loved it!
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Old May 11th, 2004, 04:48 AM
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I was in Athens for a week in Dec/Jan. By no means is it a beautiful city, but it's not dumpy in a seedy way, more a time worn grace. The acropolis is iconic, no more needs be said about it. The Kolonaki area has excellent chic shopping and people. The people are refined, well mannered (so much more pleasant than London), and well dressed all over! I stayed at Hotel Grande Bretagne which certainly was not a dump.

Amsterdam is a dump - seedy, and very average architecture. Athens is steeped in history, and there are lots of enormous villas - now embassies which stand to remind one of its elegant past. I'd definitely go again, I live in London which is more of a dump!
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Old May 11th, 2004, 05:08 AM
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I first saw Athens more than 50 years ago, and so I view it today with a sadness borne of a distant perspective.

Then Athens was a somewhat sleepy place, with narrow streets lined with crumbling and neglected villas, marvelous ancient ruins on top of and around the Acrospolis, and clear blue skies. Few cars, buses, or trucks. The people were at the edges of poverty, dignified, and welcoming.

Today Athens has crowded streets, twisting alleyways, marvelous ancient ruins on top of and around the Acropolis, and air that is almost unfit for human breath. Its smog is impenetrable. Much of old (not ancient) Athens has disappeared in a lot of hasty and cheap building, freeways that have ripped through residential areas. The water at Piraeus is toxic, black, and coated with oily sludge. It's so sad. And they call it progress.
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Old May 11th, 2004, 05:10 AM
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I was there in winter, no smog or pollution - not that I noticed - the air was fresher than London. Obviously as time goes on, industry increases output - same goes for every major city in the world. Cities, on a whole aren't beautiful - they are noisy and crowded - even Paris.
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Old May 11th, 2004, 05:49 AM
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Hi.

My two cents (and worth every penny!):

It is true that Athens is polluted and not physically attractive, but its greatest sin is that it is boring. Yes, the ruins and the museums are fine but after a day or two, it is time to go. Plan accordingly.
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Old May 11th, 2004, 05:54 AM
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I was there for a week, I saw the Acropolis, did some day trips, and went shopping in Kolonaki in local boutiques with the locals, then retreated to the spa before dinner. It's only boring if you lack imagination.

I enjoy simply walking around the shops, having a coffee, taking it easy. If you need to be on the go all the time go to a theme park.
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Old May 11th, 2004, 07:15 AM
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I've been to Greece 4 times since 1998 and the first time I went I hated Athens, having lived in Nova Scotia my whole life it was a big shock. But each subsequent trip I've enjoyed it more and was sad that last summer I only spent one night there.

Athens is big with lots of construction, pollution and new ugly construction. But it also has great shopping, restaurants and cafes. I love walking around the narrow streets of Plaka and looking for a place to eat in Psiri. Not to mention the amazing historical sights. I find Athens has this timelessness that I have not found anywhere else but this is only one person's opinion.
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Old May 11th, 2004, 07:21 AM
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I couldn't agree with you more Trish, sadly too many people (brash Americans?) need neo classical architecture to like somewhere, and in your face beauty - old word faded grandeur and charm is much more appealing to those with discerning taste.
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Old May 11th, 2004, 07:47 AM
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I loved Athens. We didn't get to spend too much time when we were there, so we plan on going back. The ruins are beautiful and well worth a visit.
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Old May 11th, 2004, 08:40 AM
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...........not trying to stir things
here, but Athens reminded me of L.A.
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Old May 11th, 2004, 08:49 AM
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It takes patience, effort and imagination to love Athens. But it's definitely worth the effort.
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Old May 11th, 2004, 08:58 AM
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Athens is obviously old and important in the scheme of Western Civilization and whether or not one considers it a "dump" is subjective. Some would say that anyone who even uses the term "dump" to describe anyplace may not be mentally ready for Athens. But I think you should see it and enjoy it for what it was and what it is now.
 
Old May 11th, 2004, 09:03 AM
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Athens has pretty heavy air pollution. You don't notice it up close, though, only when you glance off toward a hill in the distance. But, SURPRISE, all of Greece is like this, even the islands. In fact, the air pollution is even worse up in the northeast part of Greece. Athens also has graffiti -- but all European cities do. Other than those 2 negatives it's fine. I liked it.
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Old May 11th, 2004, 10:14 AM
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I wouldn't call it a dump, I would say it's more of an acquired taste. I think sometimes people go there expecting a beautiful, romantic city like Paris or Prague. Athens is not like these cities, but it has a great deal of charm if you can appreciate the rich history.

I went there first in 1999, didn't like it, and vowed never to return. Ironically, I was back in only 10 months and liked it a lot more. The reason I went back so soon is that I found a really nice cruise that started and ended in Athens. I think when I went the second time I knew what to expect and had more of an open mind, so I liked it a lot more. I realize now that I didn't like it the first time because my expectations were off base. I don't rule out visitng Athens again, although I think time in Greece is much better spent in the islands.
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Old May 11th, 2004, 10:39 AM
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Athens was a wonderful city, with the kindest people I have yet met on a vacation. I would go back in an instant!
Jane
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Old May 11th, 2004, 10:40 AM
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I agree with mkingdom. Athens is not for everyone, however. If you are the type of person, for example, who travels to London and spends one day seeing three museums, taking a whirl on the Eye, visiting Madame T's, racing through Westminster Abbey, touring Buckingham Palace, etc., Athens is NOT for you.

You will enjoy Athens more if you are the type of person who likes to "saunter." I like to spend two hours at a cafe with a coffee or glass of wine, shop, take a stroll around the Plaka, go back to my hotel and sit by the pool, address postcards, take a nap, go to a late dinner, and then on to a disco at 2AM.

The best thing about Greece are its friendly people. The worst thing is the air pollution.

You can take a day trip from Pireus to the Saronic Islands of Hydra, Aegina, and Poros. Hydra is especially beautiful and relaxing.
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