Mark & Linda's Tzatziki Tour of Greece, October 2017.
Athens, Monday, 2017.10.09.
Unsurprisingly the Plaka I visited in 1979-80 is no more. Then a tatty rat's nest of dingy gray student hostels and expat bars, the Plaka is now millenialized: reworked and renewed for the 2004 Olympics, a vibrant splash of outdoor color selling meals and knickknacks to tourists visiting the Acropolis and its modern new museum. Greek taxpayers ponied up $11 billion to host those games, not counting the new airport and metro system. Most of that is now disused, leaving the yupsters' Plaka as one of the more visible artifacts of the spending spree which in part triggered the 2012 financial crisis. In my opinion the neighborhood is enormously improved.
Today we explored the Plaka; had lunch at Syntagma Square; toured the amazing National Archaeological Museum; visited the Temple of Olympian Zeus; had dinner at Yard Café in the strip of tourist restaurants on Strategou Makeygianni; and ended the day in an excellent modern apartment scouted by genius traveler Linda, at the Urban Stripes, 37 Voiku.
In 1979 I'd had food poisoning just before arrival in Athens and was quite weak; I remember it being a nontrivial challenge to walk from the Plaka to Syntagma Square. Never made it to the Archaeological Museum — too far. Today I was shocked by how short the distances are. Just a few blocks: blink and you're there. In 1979 I must have been far more out of it then than I realized at the time.
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