Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Walking Through Athens, Old and New

The main tourist sites in Athens are ancient, but there's a lot to see in this city that blends the modern and the more recently old. Rob and I set out yesterday on a wandering adventure that seemed to give us a look at the "real" Greek capital.
Our destination was the Museum of Contemporary Art. Unfortunately, they're in the process of moving to a new building and the collection was a bit sparse. Still, it felt very much like a place the Wallpaper* Guide to Athens would send you.
All the cement and mirrors made for a good photo backdrop.
From there, we walked through the posh embassy neighborhoods and past the old palace with Evzone guards in traditional uniforms.
We crossed through the National Gardens park across the street and found ourselves at Constitution (Syntagma) Square. We walked up through a store called Public that sells electronics, books and music to find a spot on the Public Cafe balcony. From there, we had a good view of the changing of the guard in front of the Parliament building, the busy traffic and half-empty office buildings.
After lunch, we walked down Ermou Street, one of the main shopping streets with lots of international brands and local cafes. This was a particularly well supplied sesame "pretzel" and donut vendor:
Took a right turn at the Church of Panaghia, one of the oldest churches in Athens to walk through closed pedestrian streets with a mix of trendy new cafes and long-established fabric vendors.
By accident, we wandered into the central market. The meat section is NOT for vegetarians or the squeamish! All kinds of goat and lamb strung up and plenty of active cleavering.
There's a fish market here too. Like many things in Greece, the central market involves a lot of good natured yelling.
On the way home from the market, we walked behind a Greek Orthodox minister for a few blocks. He stopped to look at a vendor's table full of black socks and kept walking. Which then caused a loud, emotional fight as the vendor insisted that the minister take socks for free, and tried to shove them in his bag, and the minister insisted he couldn't. The good natured yelling went on for quite a while...oh, Greece!
Finally, we stopped a cute boutique near the apartment and I bought a striped beach tote to take to Corfu and bought a few syrupy sweet pastries from the bakery down the street.


Steph said...

I loved Athens when I went a few years ago. Just seeing the word Syntagma, I can hear the subway voice saying Seentahgma :) :)

MrsEm said...

It's great and so strange! I haven't used the subway yet, we're such nuts about walking.

Steph said...

You should totally take the subway at least once - it is very clean and nice and I never had to wait for more than 1 minute for it. Way better than New York. :)