The Greek word Oikothen means from home, from the homeland, and in this journal, we are sharing our experience from Greece with its blazing sun, deep blue sea, and brilliantly vibrant colors. Some cities count their age in years and then we have Athens, a city that can tabulate its history by millennials. From battles and setbacks, this ancient metropolis has rebounded again and again, proving itself to be resilient like no other.
A combination of past glories and recent additions like Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center prove that this city in the heart of the Mediterranean continues to support art & culture. With a dazzling culinary scene firmly grounded in the country’s traditions and soil — not to mention philoxenia, or the Greek notion of loving and welcoming strangers — it’s no surprise that Athens has become home for many creative individuals out there.
This is a city oozing with heritage, which is home to a huge number of archaeological sites, ruins, and artifacts. However, outside the ruins and the beautiful Plaka, lies a sprawling metropolis filled with graffiti and trash. I love the history, I love the chaos, I love the Greeks, I love the city!
It’s starting to feel like that time of year where the itch to travel starts setting in. The weather is getting warmer, the days are getting longer. Our experience started from the center of the city and more specifically in Plaka. Plaka is the old historical neighborhood of Athens, clustered around the northern and eastern slopes of the Acropolis, and incorporating labyrinthine streets and neoclassical architecture. We wandered around its alleys, chasing glimpses of the Acropolis between the neoclassical buildings, Byzantine churches, cafes, restaurants, and souvenir shops. The prime sights are, of course, the Parthenon and the Acropolis Museum. Squeezing between Anafiotika’s white-washed dwellings is like exploring a Cycladic village. Indeed, this old quarter was founded by workmen from the island of Anafi. The attraction was double: familiar terrain and cheap land, as the area, had been inhabited by refugees and slaves since antiquity. Anafiotika’s boundaries are loosely marked by two churches. Cats seem to perch everywhere, lace-trimmed curtains ripple in the breeze, the smell of fresh laundry fills the air, and pocket-sized yards are crowded with clay and tin planters brimming with flowers and herbs.
Our stroll ended at a beautiful hill called Filopappou. When people think of visiting Athens, images of Ancient Greece no doubt come to mind. Not only that, but the remnants of ancient history seamlessly melt together with the modern atmosphere of the bustling city. You don’t want to leave Athens without first heading to Filopappou Hill, one of the main hills that rise above the city. It is also a place that is rich in history. Philopappou Hill offers some of the best viewpoints in Athens. This holds especially true with respect to the Acropolis. If you are looking for the best spot to take that amazing shot with the glorious, ancient rock in the background, no doubt this is the place to go. Just as captivating is the view towards the southern districts of Athens, down to Piraeus and the Saronic Gulf. Every time I happen to stare at it, I cannot help conjuring up arrays of carts being carried along a long walled corridor, back and forth between the magnificent marble city and its port. After a long hike, we gathered under the warm sun that was lighting the green landscape and everything around us was so alive. The sound of nature accompanied us while we were feeling the power of the area itself. Laughters, beers, and inspiring stories were all that we needed. Athens has the energy to bring people and cultures together.
Hand-poured in London and brought to Greece, the Earl of East Wildflower candle reminds us of a country garden. A bespoke blend of jasmine, gardenia, and rose geranium, this is the most traditional scent. In addition, this colorful shopping bag is here to replace the plastic bags you get at stores and markets, but you can use it for practically anything—a simple, strong bag to replace all other bags. You can carry it in your hand (medium) or over your shoulder (large), and it holds over 20 kg. Made from high-quality Bluesign® certified and 100% recycled ripstop nylon, it is a great choice when going to the market. The shopper has two handles and no closure. It's water repellent and super strong. With this piece, sustainability meets fashion in a modern, functional, and considered design for everyone. These key transitional items are here to make your life easier. Moving from an urban bag to a timeless mirror, this unique object will help you to create new dimensions in your home. The soft twisted shape combined with the sweet pastel color gives this mirror an eye-catching look. Hang the mirror by itself on the bathroom, bedroom, or in the living room, or combine different sizes to create a unique and personal look in your home. You can mount this mirror by using the hook on the backside(screw not included).Street Market - Exarcheia
Our adventures in Athens continued in a traditional market. Let’s begin with an insight into Athens' very first market. From the banks of the Eridanus River to Areopagus hill, just below the Acropolis, spread the ruins of the Agora, whose story began in the 6th century BC. It boasted four hectares of markets and shops, although today its original boundaries have been lost amidst recent construction. The Agora was not just a shopping bazaar, it was the center of public life, the main meeting point for citizens to exchange views on key political and social issues. Today’s markets don’t have the same function, but they are still fascinating and well worth a visit.
“The objects that have caught my attention the most in other people’s houses or decoration publishing houses have always been textiles and chairs,” says Alicia. “Perhaps because I am, or understand them, as the most obvious symbols of what a home is. And textiles specifically, already have meaning in texture and color that give a lot of play and help create a complete narrative with the illustrations.”
In Athens, one of the central-traditional markets is the one in Kallidromiou Street which is located in the well-known district of Exarcheia. It is the heart of the “alternative” center, from dawn to dusk, where you’ll find all kinds of traditional Greek products from various regions. Butchers, greengrocers, fishmongers, spice and herb sellers all ply their trade, selling both in bulk and pre-packaged items. A combination of messy benches along with loud voices dominates the scene! The hubbub of the shopkeepers hawking their products can be deafening but it is certainly colorful. In some ways, it has changed very little since the 1950s and you may well be reminded of a Middle Eastern souk. All the stalls have similar displays with no concessions to modern decoration, letting the produce speak for itself. Thousands of people swarm to this market every week.
After the market we grabbed a cocktail and headed to one of the main streets in Athens - Areopagitou Street. A lot of people were sitting in groups and different kinds of music were playing with our ears, creating a very inspiring atmosphere. We strolled for a bit till we arrived at the entrance of the Herodes Atticus Theater (Odeion) which is situated on a slope just below the Acropolis on Dionysiou Areopagitou Street. Getting to the theater is simple on foot due to its central location, and walking allows one to see the beauty of the surrounding area. Here is a small historical insight: The Odeon of Herodes Atticus amphitheater was built by the wealthy Roman philosopher Herodes Atticus in 161 A.D. The magnificent structure stands in memory of his wife, Aspasia Annia Regilla, who died a year before its construction and has hosted many musical performances throughout its time.
Whether you visit it during the day or at night, the Herodes Atticus Theater is an incredible sight to see. The Odeon is only open for entry during performances, but stopping to stand atop this grand amphitheater offers stunning views of this historical monument that overlooks the city below. We hope that when Florence + the Machine performs again at this theater we won’t miss it!
Our adventures ended at the Panathenaic Stadium known by Athenians simply as the “Kallimarmaro”, the “beauty made of marble ”. The magic thing about Kallimarmaro is its location, nestled between two steep woody hills that in ancient times formed natural seating for watching the horse races, as well as the view from the top encompassing all of ancient Athens in its panorama. Along the hillsides are paths among the trees, lined with countless wildflowers in the spring. At the top, hidden from the view below, is a horseshoe-shaped cinder track. Kalimarmaro reminds me of what people can achieve when they have goals and beliefs!
Walking through Athens today is a unique feeling. The sight of the Parthenon, rising imperiously out of the chaos, is genuinely breath-taking, no matter how many times you have seen it. The neighboring hills form what is effectively an urban forest within the city center, one in which nature and history intersect in surprising and beautiful ways. Plaka – though touristy in the extreme – is still serenely beautiful. The energetic charm of the city’s street life continues unabated. People, concrete, culture come to create inspiring chaos.