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Athens, Greece: A Rich History, An Exciting Present

And so Athens somehow manages to deliver on all fronts. You might be a little bit worse for the wear when your plane touches down, as flights to Athens are frequently long and trying, but the surprise you'll feel at how quickly you pep up once you're showered, settled, and out on the town is incredible. Much in the same way that Rome manages to throw its modernity right there on top of the awe-inspiring ancient parts, there's something to be said for going out to dinner at the latest hip fusion restaurant, but first strolling along ancient walkways where the fathers of thought as we know it might have sat after their dinners, lecturing disciples. That, truly, is the appeal of Athens. Regardless of how modern it becomes--and it looks to become very modern, with designer label shopping and a new class of yuppies, as well as tastemakers from all over Europe decreeing it the new such and such--what's truly tantalizing about this city are the parts that relate directly to its history. Where else can you truly feel as though you are in the cradle of civilization? There’re not many places in the world where travelers can walk into a museum and see an object that's not only been named in an ancient poet's epic story, but is thousands upon thousands of years old. The rich history of the Greeks doesn't just exist in the walls of ancient buildings and monuments and inside museums. No, it's alive on the streets of more old-fashioned neighborhoods, living and breathing in hidden corner restaurants with dishes made from recipes passed down generation to generation. It's alive and kicking in the music and the dancing in the less touristy parts of town, where rituals are repeated while the audience drinks and carries on. And it's out there on the ancient promenade, where everyone from old couples to giggling groups of young friends go for walks on weekend nights. You'll be impressed by the new Athens, of course, but you'll truly grow to love the old--and learn that they can both be one and the same.

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