I had to take some thought in choosing one photo for this post on the theme of capitals for #FriFotos on Twitter. Paris is my favourite city and thus, one of my favourite capitals. But it’s not the one photo I wanted to showcase, even though that city is a very personal city for me. So what’s not as common as Paris? Athens. Athens was a personal city for me not only because it took over a day to get there but also because it was the first stop on my three month solo tour of Europe.
So why Athens first? Why not Paris or another favourite? Oddly enough, Greece was the country that felt most “at home” for me. As I was going away for a while, I wanted to go somewhere that was familiar for me. At home in Toronto, I live in a Greek area and have for a long time. I grew up eating souvlaki, domaldakia, spanikopita, baklava and all of these harsh-sounding foods. I was used to the leering of Greek men who congregate at the local square; the open cafes; the smell of coffee, olive oil and the sounds of Greek. For me, that was natural. My trip was at the end of August, so I also wanted to get in as much sun as I could on the beaches in the islands before the weather got chilly.
Athens was a surprise in many ways: the hotel owner I met after landing after midnight was stubborn and corrupt; the city was clean; the drivers fast, and the history apparent. The Greek gods and goddesses I read about in classics texts came to life. The cobblestones weighted under my soles, as it did for millions before me. It was a revelation and an eye-opener. Thank you Athens.