Athens’s charms are well documented. The city that spawned democracy, philosophy and theater is alive and kicking. The Acropolis is still standing, the Athenian Riviera is still swimmable and people still protest in the streets. Athens is a jumble of chaos, order and life. Everyone’s in each other’s business. From the tightly packed apartments to the hustle and bustle of the laiki agoras each weekend, Athens isn’t for the claustrophobic. Or puritans for that matter. Athens is lewd, rude and loud, but there is an unmistakable inimitability in its disdain for rules and authority. It marches to its own tune, unperturbed by outside stimuli. It could care less about your designer shoes as you waddle ankle deep in water due to shifting pavement plaques. It certainly doesn’t care that you’ll miss your flight due to a strike, and it most certainly doesn’t give a monkey’s about facetious and perfunctory forms of communication. Athens is straight to the point. Which leads me to my next point. You haven’t experienced Athens if you haven’t climbed Lycabettus hill. The highest hill in Athens one might add. And a vantage point that takes in the totality of the Athenian basin all the way down to Piraeus. Rising up 227 meters above sea level, Mt. Lycabettus is visible from almost everywhere in Athens, and needless to say property prices in the vicinity are of similar altitude.
In antiquity it was said to have been populated by wolves, hence its name (Lycos: wolf). Nowadays, the hill is populated by teens and couples. What makes it so special is its accessibility. Anyone can go up and enjoy the view. There’s no price of admission, no concession stands, just a solitary restaurant and a chapel. Just underneath it on a plateau, concerts take place on the weekends, many times unsanctioned which result in predictably funny predicaments.
One can forego the arduous climb up the hill in favor of the funicular which runs every ten minutes or so at a cost of 5 euros approximately. But in our learned opinion that is a mistake. Unless you’re handicapped, old and/or tired there should be no excuse for a spot of physical activity. In all honesty, it is a laborious trek, but the views are so joyously mesmerizing it really just seems like a half-baked idea to shun the hike.
Once up there kick back and relax with a beer. Preferably during sunset. And with your lover. If you can find a more romantic spot in Attica you’re probably in Cape Sounion looking at the Temple of Poseidon. Hats off to you.