I was just a little bird when I moved to Athens, tremendously excited to be joining forces with my sister Soso, whom I hadn't been enjoying enough for years. It was not long before I realized that, by arriving in Athens, I was standing in front of Alice's tiny door. So I jumped, following the rabbit.
Theano's curly hair, Argiris' obsession with slow movies, my devoted professors who taught me politics-for-non-politicians and six thousand taxi drivers, restless debaters whom we love to hate, changed my life forever.
As days went by, I was meeting all kinds of people, avoiding transportation strikes and trying to figure out what Hegel was all about, all shaken up in a nice cocktail with a twist of lemon and a fancy little umbrella.
Choosing downtown Athens as a base was an eager choice, as well as an unavoidable necessity, since the only vehicle I've ever driven is a "beer bike", here, in Amsterdam. This gave me the priceless opportunity to witness the gradual development of the historical center, one of the most contradictive and fascinating centers of European capitals.
If there were only two words to describe Athens, those would be "urban wonderland". This is where classical antiquities stand proudly next to modern architecture and every decade has left evidence of its existence in the scenery.
What you cannot miss when experiencing Athens is the massive expression of public feelings. Solidarity, anger, suppressed art, pride, disappointment, humor and politics are imprinted everywhere and no one can remain indifferent. You can feel the pulse of the city in every corner and, illustrated by every means imaginable. Having expanded to almost four million citizens, the city is characterized by the most impressive diversity, where people have agreed to disagree.
If there is one good thing about the crisis, is that it has catapulted the Greek art of multitasking to superb levels. This is the land where pharmacists and lawyers play music, bartenders are directors and everyone is sufficiently informed on art issues. It's extremely rare to meet someone practicing only one profession in a city that is boiling unstoppably. Athens has always had an overloaded agenda, with cultural events, musical gigs, concerts, fashion shows, BBQs and nights of poetry among one thousand other interesting happenings to attend. Maybe that's why Athenians sleep so little.
The place where the crews and the nights out are automatically dictated by one's music taste has a spot for everyone. The exquisitely wide range of entertainment types offers the option of listening to a local mogul of Greek music in an alternative gay club, attend a jazz festival, meet your favorite metal bands at some bar at Exarcheia or try to follow up with the flourishing alternative electronic scene, hosted in warehouses, squares or my favorite Six D.O.G.S., where I spent half of my Athenian nights.
The beginning of my roomating era, when finding popped amaranth in my kitchen closets made me furious, when my fridge had to move to the living room, next to the couch. But - I'm still nostalgic of our magnificent apartment downtown, where we hosted parties with the enthusiastic blessings of Mrs. Dinah, the old lady from upstairs and when I was woken up by the sun, rising behind Acropolis.
This is how years passed in the city I will always go back to, where the most beloved puppy is waiting for me at the door.