Now that midterms have (almost) passed, we are coming to the realization that we have crossed the halfway point and have about two months left studying in Greece. In the time that I have spent here many aspects of this country and its people have stood out to me in a positive manner. While life in a foreign country will always have its quirks (which I will touch on later), I want to use this post to talk about some of the things I love about Greece.
1.) The abundance of quality cafes/bars and restaurants. Half way through the semester and I have not tried even all the places in my neighborhood of Pangrati. It seems that there is always a cafe close by, each with their own unique character. The restaurants always serve fresh food, usually noting if something has been frozen (such as seafood). Even simple dishes like pasta taste fresher due to the higher quality of ingredients. The best part? You can get a full taverna dinner for about ∈10.
2.) Animals everywhere. If you have a fear of cats or dogs, then Athens is not for you. Stray animals here are treated like pets. People will place food out for cats and dogs are tagged to show that they are up to date with their shots. Walking around the gardens or later in the evening when the streets empty up, you are sure to find a friend that will guide you on your walk in exchange for a head pat.
3.) ∈2 Grill and Pita. Ask any CYA student what their go to meal in a pinch is and they will most likely guide you to our beloved G&P. For roughly the price of a metro ticket you get your gyro meat (I prefer the pork), tomatoes, lettuce, fresh tzatziki, fries, and some spices all rolled up into a pita. Perfect for on the go or really any time for that matter.
4.) The walkability of the city. This was one of the things that pleasantly surprised me before coming to Athens. From our relatively central neighborhood of Pangrati, it is about a ten minute walk to the city center of Syntagma Square. For my Monday/Wednesday Greek Architecture class on the Acropolis, it takes me about 20-25 minutes to walk all the way to the western gate. The metro is convenient in addition to being extremely well kept, but often times it is easier to walk to your location. Another option are the taxis which despite some students initial bad impression with overcharged airport rides, are generally very cheap (∈5 range).
5.) Stumbling upon ancient ruins. Athens is truly a gem for ancient monuments (duh), but there is not just the Acropolis. Simply walking around the city to go shopping you can pass the Temple of Olympian Zeus, Hadrian’s Arch, The Theater of Dionysus, not to mention the excavation sites that are covered by glass allowing pedestrians to look down upon the ancient city. The first time we took the metro we joked about how difficult it must have been to initially construct the underground system with so many archeological sites below street level.
Like I said, these are just a few of the things I love about the city of Athens. I hope to do another similar post since there is most to this city than cheap gyros and dogs, but this was a quick peek into all the perks I am experiencing as a study abroad student in Greece.