"There was another life that I might have had, but I am having this one.” — Kazuo Ishiguro
“I have been able to transform the solid autonomous cultural and linguistic realities that others wish to impose upon me –– a Cuban and an American, a speaker of Spanish and English. I am all of these things, but none of them, for in living polydomously I have constructed a way of being and understanding the world and of languaging that goes beyond the social, political and linguistic boundaries that have been created to bind us to one nest. My polydomous existence means that I can be read from left to right, as well as from right to left. My being forms a πολύδρομο [polydromo -- 'many roads'] which adapts to the way others read me, but leaves me entirely as myself. Some read me as an American who speaks English; others see me as a Cuban who speaks Spanish. I am neither, and yet both. From my own internal perspective, I am beyond these binaries that ask me to conform to national and linguistic identities that do not define how I live.”
— Ofelia Garcia, Living and studying polyd(r)omously: A self-reflection (2016)
"Healing may not be so much about getting better, as about letting go of everything that isn't you — all of the expectations, all of the beliefs — and becoming who you are."
- Rachel Naomi Remen
“To choose. To desire. To be.
[Be] a conquerer who transform[s] [your] rebellion into an art.
Choose your destiny even if you have to reinvent your path.
Let passion inspire you.
Desire that women have the ability to walk, run, move.
Be authentic, sincere, and natural.
… A rebel at heart.”
“Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that, but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing.”
— William Butler Yeats
“Ο μύθος της αναδυόμενης Αφροδίτης μάς δείχνει ότι όσο ωραία κι αν είναι μια γυναίκα, πρέπει να 'χει λίγο αλάτι στο πνεύμα και λίγη τρικυμία στην καρδιά.” — Αλφρέντ Ντε Μισέ
"The myth of emerging Aphrodite shows us how beautiful a woman is, she must have a little salt in the spirit and a little storm in her heart." — A. De Mise
25 ρήσεις για τη δύναμη της γυναίκας // 25 Beliefs About the Power of a Woman
Σώμα, θυμήσου όχι μόνο το πόσο αγαπήθηκες,
Body, remember not only how much you were loved,
όχι μονάχα τα κρεβάτια όπου πλάγιασες,
Not only the beds that where you laid,
αλλά κ’ εκείνες τες επιθυμίες που για σένα
But also the desires that
γυάλιζαν μες στα μάτια φανερά,
Glowed clearly in your eyes
κ’ ετρέμανε μες στη φωνή -- και κάποιο
And your trembling voice -- and the
τυχαίον εμπόδιο τες ματαίωσε.
Obstacles that stopped you from action.
Τώρα που είναι όλα πια μέσα στο παρελθόν,
Now that it is all in the past,
μοιάζει σχεδόν και στες επιθυμίες
All those desires,
εκείνες σαν να δόθηκες -- πώς γυάλιζαν,
All that you gave, how they glowed,
θυμήσου, μες στα μάτια που σε κύτταζαν
Remember the eyes that circled you,
πώς έτρεμαν μες στη φωνή, για σε,
The voices that trembled, for you,
– "Lost Bodies," C. P. Kavafis
“Many of us know the joy and excitement not so much of creating the new as of redeeming what has been neglected, and this excitement is particularly strong when the original condition is seen as holy or beautiful.”
"All experience is local. All identity is experience. I'm not a national. I'm a local. I'm multilocal. See; I have no relationship with the United States, all 50 of them - not really. My relationship is with Brookline - the town where I grew up - with New York City, where I started work, with Lawrenceville, where I spend Thanksgiving. What makes America home for me is not my passport or accent but these very particular experiences. Despite my pride in Ewe culture, the Black Stars and my love of Ghanaian food, I've never had a relationship with the Republic of Ghana writ large. My relationship is with Accra, where my mother lives, where I go each year. These are the places that shaped my experience. My experience is where I'm from.
What if we asked, instead of - where are you from? - where are you a local? The difference isn't the specificity of the answer. It's the intention of the question. .... What are we really thinking, when we ask where someone comes from? And what are we really seeing when we hear an answer?"
– Taiye Selasi, How Do The Places We Call Home Inform Our Identities?
"It is our inability to be with one another that gives rise to so many of the problems we are frantically trying to solve in the first place... We should not shrink from an opportunity simply because we don't really understand it. That is the very definition of being stuck in a comfort zone. It is the dimension of our being itself that cries out for its fair share of our imagination. It's time for us to dream in multiple dimensions simultaneously. It's an honor to be with you. Thank you very much."
– How Can We Push Ourselves to Dream Big? Dan Pallotta
“Los que se queens siempre lo turner más jodido. Ella, en cambio, será ampliando Su experiencia, agrandando sus sensations, entretenida.” // “Those who stay always have it worst. Instead she will be broadening her experience, enhancing her senses, entertained.”
– Casa de Papel, Season 2
"... I had a little bit of an epiphany -- that I don't think non-procrastinators exist. That's right -- I think all of you are procrastinators. Now, you might not all be a mess, like some of us, and some of you may have a healthy relationship with deadlines, but remember: the Monkey's sneakiest trick is when the deadlines aren't there.
Now, I want to show you one last thing. I call this a Life Calendar. That's one box for every week of a 90-year life. That's not that many boxes, especially since we've already used a bunch of those. So I think we need to all take a long, hard look at that calendar. We need to think about what we're really procrastinating on, because everyone is procrastinating on something in life. We need to stay aware of the Instant Gratification Monkey. That's a job for all of us. And because there's not that many boxes on there, it's a job that should probably start today."
"The sensorium is the supposed seat of sensation, the place to which impressions from the external world are conveyed and perceived. ... The term "sensorium" comes (as does the word 'sensation') from the Latin sensus, 'the faculty of perceiving.'"
"The supreme goodness is like water. It benefits all things without contention. In dwelling, it stays grounded. In being, it flows to depths. In expression, it is honest. In confrontation, it stays gentle. In governance, it does not control. In action, it aligns to timing. It is content with its nature and therefore cannot be faulted."
"Decision-making, number one ... needs to be done in writing, there's too much in your head. Secondly, decision-making is just value clarification — when you know what's most important, you can make the decision. So what makes it hard?
Usually you have multiple outcomes you're trying to get, and it's sometimes hard to get all of them and you don't know your priorities. Your mind one moment wants one thing, and another moment, another. So, I created this 6-step process: OOCEMR.
O: What are your outcomes? In order to make a decision, you need to know what you want. Precisely what you want. Usually, you want multiple things when it's a hard decision. So you gotta put them in order of importance.
O: What are your options? Write your options down.
C: Consequences. Draw a graph. What is the upside and downside of each option?
E: Evaluating. Evaluate the probability of those upsides and downsides, -10 to +10 (most pain to most positive).
M: Mitigate. How can I mitigate the downsides?
R: Resolve. Resolve what you're gonna do.
– Tony Robbins, on Decision-Making
Greece is excited to welcome you! Whether you're visiting Athens for a day or two, or staying here for a while, here are some must-sees, must-eats, must-visits while you're in the beautiful and edgy city of Athens.
Before we dive in, a quick note to add is that Yelp does not exist in Greece. Instead, you can use TripAdvisor, Facebook, and FourSquare to pull up recommendations. At the moment (as of April 2018), Uber also is not operating in Greece. Instead, you can download and use Beat to hail taxis and get around, or just use taxis (pretty much the same, except that Beat tracks the route, making it less likely for taxi drivers to be able to scam you).
For a more visual look at the city and all it has to offer, check out #AthensxLucy to see Greece up-close. (And don't be fooled, the hashtag says Athens, but encompasses all things (and places) Greek.
WHEN TO VISIT
Not surprisingly, peak tourist season are the summer months of June, July, and August. Athens and the islands will be bustling with tourists, so be prepared for some crowds at the most popular sites and destinations. If you're looking to go during a more relaxed (and less touristy) period, late spring (May) and early fall (end of August, September) are great times to visit. The weather is still warm enough to go swimming, and you'll likely avoid the big crowds of tourists.
PICKING AN ISLAND
If you've never been to Greece, Santorini and Mykonos are the classic must-sees and most popular destinations. In terms of overall island vibes — Santorini is great for couples, Mykonos is great for nightlife, Eos is more geared towards the younger party crowd, and islands like Hydra and Syros are far more local. If you're trying to go for fun but more low key island, I'd recommend Paros or Crete.
Planning to island hop? No problem, and super easy with all the flights and ferries leaving and going from Athens (especially during the peak summer season). If you're on a tight schedule and trying to see as many islands as possible, you should allocate at least 2-3 days per island so that you can see and absorb all that each island has to offer.
Depending on how much time you have, you can either ferry or fly from Athens to the islands. Flights leave very often from Athens airport to the major islands. Ferries are cheaper and a bit slower but allow you to factor in more spontaneity if you'd rather decide which islands to go to when you arrive. For context, to get to Santorini, it takes about 45 minutes by flight and 5-8 hours by Ferry (depending on whether you go with the high-speed boat or not). For ferry schedules and tickets, a good go-to is Direct Ferries. In terms of airlines, Aegean Air is a Greek favorite with unbeatable service.
Lodging & Neighborhoods
For your stay in Athens, Airbnb is a great way to go. When selecting neighborhoods, Koukaki, Plaka, or Thiseio are all great choices. They are the most mainstream amongst visitors, as they beautiful, cozy, and walking distance to the Acropolis and all other major sightseeing. You can also check out Athens Studios for a more aparthotel vibe.
If you're traveling on a budget or looking to go, I stayed at Athens Backpackers (next door to Athens Studios) during my first trip to Athens and highly recommend it. It's a 5 minute walk to the Acropolis, and close to all the neighborhoods mentioned above.
I live in a neighborhood nearby called Exarcheia. It's more alternative (where the anarchists live) and also has quite a few Airbnbs.
In general, the neighborhoods you won't want to miss while you are here are: Monastiraki (great for shopping), Plaka (right next to Monastiraki, with great historical sight views , Koukaki (right by the Acropolis), and my beloved Exarcheia. All neighborhoods in Athens have great nightlife (bars, restaurants, and cafes). If you're looking for a club, check out Gazi or Kolonaki.
Going further seaside, you'll find Palio Faliro on the west side of Athens. It is by the sea with a great marina filled with places to stroll and eat. You can take the metro straight here and come see the beautiful seaside and marina up close. Closer to the sea, there are also some seaside nightclubs.
Bars & Coffeeshops
- Couleur Locale – Rooftop bar with great cocktails and beautiful views of the acropolis.
- Mavros Gatos — Located in Exarcheia, a very hip local bar in a very hip/alternative neighborhood. The scene is mostly hipster locals, young students and people in their 20s who attend the surrounding colleges. Good music.
- Athens Sports Bar — Touristy/expat-filled bar, as it is owned by the awesome hostel next door (where I stayed for my trip). Come here for a much more American/touristy great time (they have Karaoke on Thursdays, which is a hit). If you go, let them know you're my friend and I say hi! I'm friends with most the bartenders there.
- Tiki Bar — Fun local bar with great cocktails located in the touristy neighborhood of Koukaki (right around the corner from Athens Sports Bar).
- Drunk Sinatra – Great jazz and cocktail bar, located in the more party/touristy neighborhood of Gazi. I've never been here myself, but it is high on my to-do list, and comes highly recommended by my Greek friends.
- Baba Au Rum & The Clumsies — Great cocktail bars, comes highly recommended by my cocktail expert friends. I've never been but I've heard good things!
- Taf — Super hip bar / coffee shop (great for day or night). They open the roof during the summer months, and the inside is part bar, part art installation.
- Public Cafe — Public is the equivalent of their "Barnes and Noble" and they have a spot right in Syntagma Square, with a rooftop cafe with gorgeous views.
- Mavros Gatos – Not to be confused with the Mavros Gatos from above, this is hands-down one of my favorite restaurants in Athens. It is classic Greek taverna style and boast some of the freshest and best meat in the city.
- Φουάρ — Amazing Thai food and cocktails!
- Thanasis Kebab — Famous in Greece for its kebabs and gyros. It's a bit on the pricier side (when compared with the local food, since it is so popular and also gets touristy in the summer, as its located in the Monastiraki district) but is a great bet and also one of my favorites.
- Falafellas — Amazing falafels, hands down.
- Καραμανλίδικα του Φάνη — A must-go! Classic Greek experience, famous and popular amongst Athens and Greece for its wide selection of meats from all over the country. Definitely get what they recommend in terms of meat dishes (there's one with spicy sausage + fried egg that's amazing) and I also highly recommend the eggplant salad (a bit garlicky, if that's your style).
- Seychelles — One of the most popular restaurants in Athens amongst locals right now. Great authentic Greek food, in a hip neighborhood. After dinner you can hop over to Blue Parrot for some great cocktails.
- Axilleas — Local bar in Exarcheia, great and quick selection for authentic Greek cuisines (mousaka, pastizio, souvlaki, etc.)
- Saligaros — Popular local favorite in Exarcheia, with authentic and amazingly delicious Greek food from the north.
other KEY ATTRACTIONS
- Acropolis (Of course). — Go early in the morning to avoid lines.
- Acropolis Museum — Right next to the Acropolis, newly renovated and now ranked as one of the best museums in the world, and admission is only €5. The exhibits are stunning, and you get great views of Athens. On the top floor, there's also cafe with amazing views of the Acropolis.
- Filipapou Hill / Aeropagus Hill — Just past the acropolis, a small hike on a hill that gets you amazing views of the Acropolis and the city.
- Polis Hammam – For those looking to get blissed out, Polis Hammam is an amazing Turkish bath experience. The bath and massage packages will leave you feeling relaxed and glowing.
Tours: If you're into walking tours, Athens Backpackers Hostel has a great one for €6. There is also Alternative Tours where you can learn about the city by way of its graffiti art amongst other alternative routes (sounds v cool).
Staying Cognizant: Keep an eye on your stuff! When you are on the metro, and walking around in high crowded areas (especially the touristy ones), pickpockets are abound and they are highly skilled. Keep your bags close on your person, and backpacks in front of you if you can. Greece is not dangerous by any means, but there are the small petty crimes (e.g., theft) that still happen.
Gifts & Souvenirs: Sure, all the kiosks and stands sell great souvenirs. But if you're looking for some authentic Greek gifts (by today's modern designers), check out Forget Me Not Athens in Monstiraki. They carry a very clever and well-designed brand called "Hommer" which is a beauty brand for men (named after the author of The Odyssey).
Two easy options – you can take the metro or taxi.
For metro, you can take it straight to the center and you are just one transfer away from the neighborhood your hotel is in.
getting from the airport to the center
By Public Transit (Metro): Take the metro straight from the airport (towards Aghia Marina) until the stop where you are staying. If you're staying near the Acropolis, take the metro until you reach the Syntagma stop. Get off at Syntagma and transfer over to the red line (going towards Ellniiko). Once you’re on the red line, the next stop after Syntagma is Akropolis. It takes about an hour and metro tickets to and from the airport are €10 per person.
By Taxi: I recommend downloading the “Beat” app (the Uber of Greece, since Uber is banned here at the moment), and you can hail a taxi straight from the app (there’s wifi in the airport if you need). It’s more reliable than getting a taxi from the airport because sometimes they rip tourists off. It takes about 30-40 minutes depending on traffic, and costs about €40 (double if you are traveling at night, between midnight to 7am).
"You see, muscle is created by repeatedly lifting things that have been designed to weigh us down. So when your shoulders feel heavy, stand up straight, lift your chin, hell, call it exercise. Remember that life is a gym membership is a really complicated cancellation policy. Remember we are never ever given anything that we can handle. When the world crumbles around you, you have to look at the wreckage and then a build a new one out of all the piece that are still here. Remember you are still here."
“Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating.”
— Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace