Our Travels



Like a dream, the past

Sometimes we still dream of Athens. We've been there thrice, the last time being in the early 2000s. That's probably why our dreams look and feel like our photos: somewhat faded, somewhat dusty, somewhat sepia. Unreal and yet more strikingly powerful than reality. We can still see ourselves strolling through worn and abandoned Monastiraki, the area just beneath the Acropolis; we can still see ourselves following one of the narrow streets, the atmosphere restrained, sizzling hot, and lazy. In our memories, the sun is sparkling high in the sky, the hot air penetrating everything, wafting through the canyons and valleys of the alleyways and avenues. The day's brightness hurts our eyes and transforms any colour into yet another shade of white; even the shadows shine in light grey. The people  in the streets walk with the careful, slow and shuffling steps all those hot summers have taught them to take. The buildings are low and old and dusty. Most of the metallic shutters remain closed, only a few shops being open.

Our dreams, our memories somehow combine our three visits, but they have a common characteristic: that sensation of something outdated, of a suffocating and empty city, the whisper of a past that still makes the air that we breathe vibrate. We still see ourselves walking across the square where you can find the runs of Hadrian's Library. We still can see ourselves climb up to the Plaka, stroll around amongst the little taverns and bars, go up and down the large stone stairs the cracks of which are whitewashed. We still feel the cold lightness of that Mythos beer that slowly flows down from its bottle into the beer glass the waiter has just taken out of the fridge; and the first sip freezes our dry throats so pleasantly.

And always, always, always above us, like the sign of a former life that crawls back into our memories, the perfect contours of the Acropolis temples… We still can feel the heat that makes every step so difficult while we're climbing up to the Holy of Holies, all the while turning almost in circles around that rocky island that rises in the middle of the city. We still remember perfectly well those last steps that we have to climb, tickets in our hands, before we reach the top. And there, the first, refreshing breeze caresses our skins like a grand-mother would caress her grand-sons to comfort them after a very long separation. In front of us, the columns of the Parthenon. We've got the impression we've come back home.

We go around the temples, which even though they are fragmentary seem much more real, much more complete than all those pale copies we have seen elsewhere. The white, almost too white stones stand out clearly before the spotless summer sky. Here, we touch a past that suddenly becomes our present. Any word to describe the beauty of this place seem wrong, too weak, to human. It's true that we're dealing with the divine, here.

Downhill, the heart of the modern city beats as always. Then, the day weakens, whites become yellow, then orange. Another atmosphere, another spectacle, other memories store up in our heads. The waking dream continues, and it still comes back to us from time to time, during the night, when we think we're sleeping…


  • Monastiraki ("little monastery" in Greek) can be reached by subway: lines #1 (green) and #3 (blue). It is well known for its flea market. During our first visit back in the late 90s, it was really the way we described it above: old-fashioned, dusty, sleepy, in other words picturesque and charming—one of those places we love. But it has much changed ever since; the last time, there were plenty of cafés and hip bars. Monastiraki was still a very nice place, but if you expect to see it the way we described it, you're in for a surprise.
  • Entry to the Acropolis costs 20 euros (official site – GR, EN).

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