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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 24 December 2016
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 24 DECEMBER 2016 25 GREECE meeting point and home to many artists and university students. Coming down from the Acropolis, visitors ar- producing olives. A typical tour starts at the temple of Olympian Zeus and the close by Hadrian's Arch, which forms the symbolic entrance to the city. From there, visitors walk along Dionysou Areopaghitou Street, passing the ancient Theatre of Dionysos where most of the works by Sophocles, Euripides, Aeschylus, and Aristophanes were performed. The Odeon of Herodes Atticus, which nowadays hosts the performances of the Athens Festival, is where visitors stop before climbing up to the sacred rock of the Acropolis. Also impressive are the Propylaea, the temple of the Athene Nike, and the Erechtheion but the breathtaking view of the city is what tourists rave about when visiting Athens. Only 300m away from the Acropolis stands the striking Acropolis Museum; one of the most important contemporary works of architecture in Greece. It is made of steel, glass and concrete and it houses 4,000 priceless artefacts from the Acropolis monuments that represent its history and function as the most important religious centre of ancient Athens. The Exarheia area nearby is a charming vibrant neighbourhood and traditionally a rive at Areios Pagos, the world's most ancient judicial court and current Supreme Court of Greece. Directly opposite stands Philopappou Hill with its beautiful little cobbled roads and the Roman monument by the same name on its top. Pnyx, the area where the citizens of ancient Athens used to assemble and exert their democratic rights is also there. Located further down the pedestrian road is the commercial, political, and religious centre of ancient Athens, known as the Ancient Agora where tourists become acquainted with the idea of classical Athenian democracy. At the eastern side of the Acropolis is the Plaka neighbourhood, also known as the core of the historic centre, with its narrow labyrinthine streets lined with houses and mansions from the period of the Turkish occupation and the neoclassical period. A true time warp experience. The Lysikrates Monument, the Roman Agora with the renowned ‘Tower of the Winds’ and Hadrian's Library, grandiose churches that are true masterpieces of Byzantine art and architecture and some interesting museums and art galleries are all hidden amongst picturesque tavernas, cafés, bars, as well as shops selling souvenirs and traditional Greek products. Walking down from Plaka, visitors arrive at Monastiraki (also known as old Athens) and the traditional neighbourhood of Psyrri which in the last decade has evolved into one of the most important hubs of the town's nightlife, trenched with funky bars, tavernas, ouzeris and clubs. Most popular Ermou Street remains the historical city's best-known traditional commercial highlight with more than 2,500 shops of all types, which spread out over the surrounding streets. Within the boundary of Athens' historical centre, are the picturesque neighbourhoods of Makriyianni, Ano Petralona, Thisseion (filled with small museums, cafés, bars and restaurants), Kerameikos and Metaxourgeio, as well as the Gazi area (former gas works) which has been transformed into a cultural centre of the Athens municipality known as 'Technopolis'. The surrounding region of Attiki holds some spectacular antiquities as well, such as the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion and a string of lovely beaches, like those near historic Marathon, The Apollo Coast and the infamous 'Paraliaki' strip that travels from Faliro all the way down to Glyfada, Sounio and Lagonisi representing a sparkly blue glimpse amongst the concrete, in an expansive luxurious beach-rimmed bay. Vouliagmeni Lake lies sunk in the remains of an immense limestone cavern with views to the distant Saronic Gulf islands and sunsets that wash Mount Hymettus in every shade of deep purple and pink. Undoubtedly, Athens is a city that's guaranteed to take you by surprise if you decide to delve into its magic and explore it the way it deserves to be experienced. Once the journey is over, and only then, can one really comprehend why Athens was, is, and will continue to be, Greece's ultimate masterpiece. To view the full Condé Nast Traveler list go to www.cntraveler.com/gallery/the-best-placesto-travel-in-2017 Why Athens? "Athens is a city that combines almost everything. An intense air of creativity, cultural history and freedom expressed in everyday life. I love the fact that within a few minutes one can travel from sea to mountain, from grey chaotic city views to serene green landscapes and crystal clear waters. From my perspective, Athens is a contradiction of hidden little gems and cultural diamonds scattered around in perfect order inviting us to delve into their flaws and to discover what lays under this charming city." - Sokrates, 24 "Athens is a magical city that never sleeps. From leisurely sipping a cocktail on a roof garden overlooking the illuminated Acropolis to catching a play (ranging from Greek ancient masterpieces to American musicals), music performances and live concerts, to enjoying a meal at one of the infamous seafood restaurants in the area of Tzitzifies; it is fascinating to know that the options are just endless and they can satisfy all senses, tastes and budgets. Athens is definitely a city worth exploring.” - Andrianna, 23 "Athens has evolved immensely throughout the years and it continues to do so. It was and continues to be culturally rich, diverse and exciting, therefore people keep coming back to explore the little treasures of this perfectly imperfect city." - John, 54 "The younger generation brings a new air of change and a fresh outlook that really complements Athens. They are so well educated and well-travelled and that reflects on the vibrancy of our city." - Eleni, 34 "Athens is an incredibly practical place that allows me to be in an island setting enjoying crystal clear waters within half an hour from the city centre. Travellers and tourists can take the tram, pay 1,4 euros and be at a beautiful beach within a half an hour." - Vicky, 47 "One can very easily fall in love with Athens. I love walking around, exploring the little alleys of Plaka and meeting friends for a wine at the traditional neighbourhood of Anafiotika. The newly built Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre in Kallithea is undoubtedly the new gem of our city. I love nothing more than riding along the newly created bike lane that runs from Moschato to Glyfada." Konstantina, 24 "I love wandering around, visiting the archaeological sites (particularly the Acropolis) and just letting myself relax and feel the vibe of our wonderful city!" - Marianna, 39 "Contemporary gourmet restaurants, funky bars hidden downtown and a nightlife like no other give Athens a demeanour of a cosmopolitan city that combines a unique history with a vibrant present." - Dimitris, 30 "I have travelled around the world and I can safely say that Athens is by far the most charming city I have ever lived in. There is an air of mystery and wisdom that's so seducing and inviting once you see past the obvious negatives of a large city. The only drawback is that there is just so much to explore and experience but not sufficient time to do it. Do yourselves a favour and take time to really explore Athens." - Stratos, 63 2017: A rejection of the mosaic, and a return to primary colours? ALEXANDER BILLINIS As we count down to the new year I cannot help but feel that an era is passing into history, a passing that I, for one, already mourn. Of course nostalgia, they say, is "never what it used to be," and the delights and freedoms of the fading "globalisation era" could not obscure the inequalities it wrought. It is clear that the electorates, in America as elsewhere, sought a fix for the problems which emerged from a globalised world. We may find that the "cure" for the excesses of globalisation is not only worse than the illness, but in fact accelerates the malady it purports to cure. The solution currently on offer, it seems, is a rejection of the diversity of globalisation and a return to a nostalgic past. The national flag, an official religion, a tribal mythology that is the refuge of both frightened people left behind by globalisation, as well as of scoundrels. This rejection of diversity is not a localised phenomenon, it is itself global. We have seen the Brexit cure - return to the national or regional flag, literal and figurative exclu- sion of the "other"—is now effectively the new regime in the US. Real economic grievances are baited and switched to blaming those different from us. Different countries, different races, religions, and ultimately, different ideas, are cast out in pursuit of a simple fix to a complex problem. What we are doing, effectively, is amputating our own limbs. Britain risks separation from Europe, and even dissolution of the United Kingdom. In America they are not perhaps at the threshold of secessions, but the divisiveness wrought in search of a "cure" may bring a social division unknown in that country for decades. We don't talk to each other; the grays are excluded, giving primacy to black and white. We live within our own echo chambers. Europe's existential troubles, accelerated by globalisation and Brexitesque reactions, will no doubt serve as justification for a return to primary colours. "You see, supranational solutions don't work. Only we can protect our interests." This belief, spoken in French, Hungarian, Greek, etc, from a presidential podium, carries a promise to "Make [insert your country] Great Again." In choosing this cure, we will have gone against the collective wisdom of so much history. As a Greek American I worry deeply about the retreat of pluralism in my country, and it seems that Australia is also regressing, in lockstep with trends in the West. Those of us who are of Greek descent, now comfortable as the fungible racial term ‘White’ includes us, might take care to remember that not long ago, Greeks were ‘othered’ in both the US and Australia. It is our duty to fight for the mosaic in our societies, rather than follow an orderly regression back to primary colours. Despite all of the obstacles, it is in our hands, we must fight the excesses in globalisation without destroying the diversity that is the one key benefit. Diversity, moreover, is at the bedrock of our free societies.
17 December 2016
7 January 2017