Atena – Kolonaki

RO: Bun, ne-am convins. Atena e un amestec de bune si rele, de plusuri si minusuri, de lucruri care-ti plac la nebunie si lucruri pe care le urasti deopotriva. E o nebunie de oras care face ce face si-ti ofera pe tava cand una calda, cand una rece de n-o poti duce. Si nu vorbim de gyros, si nici de tzatziki! 🙂 Daaaar, noroc cu batranul Pitagora care a aranjat alfa-urile si beta-urile si mai ales epsilonii si in final toata suma de nebunii iese cu plus. Pentru ca n-ai ce face, nici ce zice, trebuie sa recunosti ca Atena e o dementa de oras, care iti place chiar si-atunci cand nu iti place!

EN: Ok, we’re finally convinced. Athens is a mix of good and bad, of pluses and minuses, of things that you simply love and others that you equally hate. It’s a mad city that does what it does and blows hot and cold all the time. And we’re not talking about gyros or tzatziki! 🙂 Buuuut, luckily, the old Pythagoras arranged all the alphas and betas  and especially the epsilons so that the final sum of craziness to be positive. Because no matter what you do, you have to admit that Athens is a crazy city, that you like even when you don’t!
athens_prinlume_1
RO: Miroase a portocale pe strazi, dar cand ti-e lumea mai draga dai de ditai maldarul de gunoi aruncat fix in mijlocul strazii. Te plimbi de nebun prin Monastiraki, pe stradutele inguste pline de buticuri sic si case colorate, dar cand te-astepti mai putin dai de vreo strada dosita si plina de imigranti in case de carton, de ti-e frica sa te uiti in stanga sau dreapta. In Kolonaki, la picioarele Lycabettus-ului, ai case si bloculete dichisite, in stil mediteranean, cu umbrelute verzi si terase generoase, la doua strazi mai jos ai cladiri murdare, mazgalite de grafitti-uri si pline de praf si rugina. Aici e liniste si pace, dincolo te omoara traficul si claxoanele mai ceva ca pe strazile din Mumbai. La coltul strazii iti canta un Santana la chitara si te cheama sa-l acompaniezi, insa cum treci de el dai de smecherasii de cartier care vor sa-ti vanda nadragi si chinezisme la taraba improvizata sub schelele de sub bloc. Tot orasul e plin de istorie si ruine antice, dar in egala masura gasesti ruine moderne, blocuri si hoteluri incepute si lasate in voia sortii dupa criza economica. Zei si zeite, istorie, arta, filozofi, matematicieni. Atena, leaganul civilizatiei europene, cum ne ziceau cartile in generala, parca tinde sa te dezamageasca putin in prima faza.

EN: Smells like oranges on the streets, but when you least expect it you find a huge pile of garbage thrown right in the middle of the street. You’re wandering the narrow streets of Monastiraki, full of chic boutiques and colorful houses, but yet again, when you least expect it, you bump into a dodgy side street, full of immigrants and paperboard houses, that you’re honestly afraid to look around. In Kolonaki, at Mt Lycabettus feet, you have posh houses and apartments, built in Mediterranean style, with green umbrellas and generous terraces, but two blocks further away you’ll find filthy buildings, scribbled by graffiti and full of dust and rust. Here you have peace and quiet, but there you have insane traffic and honks, giving you the impression that you’re on a crowded street from Mumbai.  At the street corner a Santana sings a song at the guitar, inviting you to accompany the song, but right after you pass him, some tricksters want to sell you trousers and Chinese stuff at an improvised stall under the scaffolds of a building. The entire city is full of history and ancient ruins, but at the same time you find modern ruins, blocks and hotels constructions that have been started but never finished due to the economic crisis. Gods and goddess, history, art, philosophers, mathematicians. Athens, the cradle of European civilization, as the books taught us, tends to disappoint at a first glance.
athens_zappeion_1
RO: Cu toate astea, e un mix ciudat, intrigant si fascinant care per total iti place. N-are cum sa nu iti placa. N-o fi Atena imaginea clasica greceasca, cu casute albe la orizont, maslini in curte, mare la picioare si taverne la tot pasul, dar are un je ne sais quoi. Care cumva-cumva, te face sa-ti rezervi bilete de avion si-a doua oara. Si poate si a treia. Si daca iti limitezi oarecum asteptarile si nu speri sa-i intalnesti pe urmasii lui Socrate, Euclid ori Arhimede pe strazile din Plaka sau Anafiotika, parca incepi sa vezi Atena cu alti ochi. Pana la urma, ultimii ani au incercat destul de greu orasul si locuitorii ei, iar urmele crizei si a valurilor de imigranti se simt. Si se vor mai simti inca multa vreme, chiar daca grecu’ te invita cu zambetul larg pe buze la un tzatziki si un ouzo rece la el in taverna.

EN: With all these being said, Athens is an intriguing, fascinating and weird mix that in the end you like. It simply cannot be otherwise. And even though Athens might not be the classical Greek image, with white houses in the horizon, olive groves in the backyard, the seaside at your feet and taverns everywhere, but it has that je ne sais quoi. That somehow makes you book those airplane tickets for the second time. And maybe even for the third one. And if you limit your expectations and you don’t expect to find the descendants of Socrates, Euclid or Archimedes on the streets of Plaka or Anafiotika, you’re starting to see the city in a different light. In the end, the last years have been quite though for Athens and its citizens, and the crisis and waves of immigrants are still felt. And they will still be there for quite a while, even though the Greeks invite you in their taverns with a large smile of their faces, to have some tzatziki and a glass of cold ouzo. 
athens_ouzo-in-plaka
RO: Cu alte cuvinte, e greu sa zici alba sau neagra cand vine vorba despre Atena. Insa un lucru e cert. Orasul te surprinde inca din zbor. E-un musuroi alb de case lipite una-ntr-alta, ce se intinde cat vezi cu ochii. Cu Acropolele-n centru si Muntele Lycabettus ici colea, e o mare de cladiri si trepte. Da, treeeepte, fir-ar ele sa fie de trepte! E plin de trepte in Kolonaki, taman la fix pentru un pic de miscare dupa un festin cu souvlaki-uri si branza feta. Si hai ca recunoastem. Or fi ele Plaka ori Monastiraki ori Psiri ori si mai si, Anafiotika, asii din maneca ai Atenei, insa noua ne-a placut Kolonaki. Cu strazile lui inguste de-abia ne incape Fiat-ul 500, pantele abrupte de zicem “Sarut mana” ca nu stie ea Atena ce inseamna inghet si polei, cladirile fitoase, apartamentele de “arhitecti nebuni”, restaurantele de localnici, hotelurile boutique, cafenelele moderne, privelistile frumoase din varf de munte Lycabettus.

EN: In other words, it’s difficult to say that Athens is either black or white. But one thing is for certain. The city surprises you from the airplane, it’s a white anthill of houses that expands as far as your eyes can see. With the Acropoli sin the center and Mt. Lycabettus nearby, it’s a huge area of buildings and stairs. Yup, stairs, those daaaamn stairs! It’s full of them in Kolonaki, just perfect for some workout after a feast with souvlaki and feta cheese. And let’s admit it. Maybe Plaka and Monastiraki and Psiri and Anafiotika are the asses on the sleeve that Athens has, but we loved Kolonaki. With its narrow streets that we could barely fir with our Fiat 500, the so steep roads that make you appreciate the fact that Athens does not have frostiness and glaze during wintertime, the posh buildings, the “crazy architect” apartments, the locals restaurants, the boutique hotels, modern cafes, the beautiful views from up above at Mt. Lycabettus.
kolonaki_athens_4
kolonaki_athens_6
athens_kolonaki-neighborhood_2
kolonaki_athens_10
kolonaki_athens_11
kolonaki_athens_9
kolonaki_athens_3
kolonaki_athens_8
Kolonaki_Athens_5.JPG
kolonaki_athens_13
kolonaki_athens_2
kolonaki_athens_1
RO: Si apropo, avem o recomandare de taverna traditionala ca la mama lui Zorba grecu’ acasa in Kolonaki. Filippou ii spune, dar noi n-am dat de ea, cu tot cu Google Maps-ul in brate. Localnicii insa ne-au tot ridicat-o in slavi, si nici Tripadvisor nu se lasa mai prejos cu laudele. In schimb am dat total intamplator de Kafeneio, o dragalasenie de restaurant traditional cu mancare delicioasa si dulciuri bune din partea casei 😀 Ca doar de, unul dintre noi se-ndoapa doar cu baclavale si siropuri grecesti. Ca asa-i la cura.

EN: And by the way, we have a recommendation for a traditional tavern in Kolonaki, just as you’ll find at Zorba the Greek parents. It is called Filippou , but we couldn’t find it, even though we had Google Maps in our arms. The locals told us good things about it, and Tripadvisor as well. But,totaly unexpected, we bumped into Kafeneio, a cute and cozy traditional restaurant with delicious food and good desserts on the house 😀 As what do you know, one of us indulges herself with baklava and Greek syrups. That’s what a diet means. 
athens_kafeneio-restaurant_kolonaki_1
RO: Si-apoi toate drumurile din Kolonaki duc vrand nevrand la Parlament. O cladire care sincer pare mai mult nemteasca decat greceasca, dar nu e de mirare, daca stai sa te gandesti ca a fost proiectata de un arhitect neamt. Si n-o fi ea cladirea Parlamentului cireasa de pe tort din piata Sintagma, insa soldatii Evzoni cu siguranta sunt! Si daca-i prinzi si cand se schimba garda (pe la ora 11 dimineata), e la fix! Costumatiile soldatilor sunt cat se poate de amuzante, mai ales pantofii cu pampoane, colantii albi si franjurii de la genunchi. Insa “fustanela” cea cu 400 de pliuri este piesa de rezistenta a tinutei, pentru ca simbolizeaza cei 400 de ani de domnie turceasca. Aaaa, si sa nu uitam, tot in Sintagma se afla si hotelul Grande Bretagne, o frumusete de hotel cu o istorie de peste 170 de ani.

EN: And all the roads from Kolonaki go to the Parliament. O building that honestly looks more as German than Greek, but there’s no wonder why, as it was built by a German architect. And maybe the Parliament Building is not the frosting on the cake in Syntagma Square, but the Evzones soldiers are for sure! And if you see them during the Changing of the Guards (around 11AM), it’s just perfect! Their costumes are extremely funny, especially the pom pom shoes, the white leggings and the knee tassels. But the 400 pleats skirt is la piece de resistance, because it symbolizes the 400 years of Turkish supremacy.  Aaaah, and let’s not forget, in Syntagma Square we also have the Grande Bretagne hotel, o beautiful hotel with a history of more than 170 years.
athens_syntagma-square_11
athens_syntagma-square_1
athens_syntagma-square_5
athens_syntagma-square_8
athens_syntagma-square_2
athens_syntagma-square_3
athens_syntagma-square_4_2
athens_syntagma-square_10
athens_syntagma-square_9
athens_syntagma-square_6
athens_syntagma-square_7
RO: Bun, iar dupa Parlament, la o aruncatura de bat distanta, in mijlocul Gradinilor Nationale, se afla si Zappeion-ul, o sala de expozitii si conferinte.

EN: Ok, and after the Parliament building, just at a stone’s throw, in the middle of the National Gardens, yu’ll find the Zappeion, a conference and exhibitions center.
fullsizerender-2
athens_zappeion_3
athens_zappeion_10athens_zappeion_9
athens_zappeion_4
athens_zappeion_6
RO: Si daca tot am spus de vreo nu stim cate ori ca Atena e plina de portocale in copaci, de zici c-ai nimerit in vreun Paradis exotic, ei bine, portocalele nu sunt comestibile. Sunt amare, sunt mici si inafara de faptul ca infrumuseteaza intr-un mare fel trotuarele betonate ale Atenei si parfumeaza teribil de frumos atmosfera poluata, nu prea au alt scop. Portocale ornamentale, daca s-a mai auzit de asa ceva. Insa sa-i dam Cezarului ce-i al Cezarului, centrul Atenei, si in special cartierul Kolonaki, arata bestial. O fi trafic, o fi poluare si mizerie, or fi probleme de tot soiul si da, recunoastem, or fi adevarate toate articolele de pe internet care blameaza murdaria si saracia in Atena. Dar este oarecum de asteptat si de inteles. Probleme financiare, criza economica, valuri de imigranti, crestere neasteptata a numarului de locuitori. Curatenia pur si simplu nu este o prioritate in Atena, nici pentru autoritati, nici pentru locuitorii orasului. Si ca sa nu incepem aventura greceasca intr-o nota pesimista, ca doar probleme sunt peste tot in lume si pan’la urma, n-am venit in vreo Elvetie sau Austrie ca sa avem pretentii de trotuare-lucitoare, sa fim mai greci ca grecii si sa trantim farfurii de podele, sa ascultam o zorba si sa inchinam un pahar de ouzo. Apropo, treaba cu farfuriile nu prea mai e de actualitate 😀

EN: And if we already mentioned a few times that Athens is full of tree oranges, which make you think you ended up in an exotic Paradise, oh well, those oranges are not edible. They are bitter, small, and besides the fact that they adorn the concrete sidewalks of Athens and spread a teribily beautiful perfume in all that polluted atmosphere, they do not have any other purpose. Ornamental oranges, if one has ever heard about this. But let’s face it, the center of Athens, especially the Kolonaki neighborhood, looks really nice. There might be traffic, there might be pollution and misery, there might be all sort of problems, and yes, we have to admit it, all those articles on the internet that blame the misery and poverty in Athens are true. But that’s quite understandable. The financial problems, the economic crisis, the waves of immigrants, the unexpected growth of population. Cleanliness is simply not a priority in Athens, not for the authorities, not for the citizens. But we don’t want to start our Greek adventure in such a pessimistic vibe, as we haven’t landed in Switzerland or Austria to expect shiny sidewalk, so let’s be Greeker than the Greeks and let’s smash some plates on the ground, let’s listen to some zorbas and let’s have a glass of ouzo. Oh, by the way, that plate smashing thing is already off the map 😀
athens_kolonaki-neighborhood_1

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s