IF New York is the city that never sleeps, Athens – land of dust and violet sunsets - is the city that never stops.
The Greek capital has long been strait-jacketed by its reputation as a dysfunctional, teeming metropolis. A necessary pit-stop on the way to the islands – after ticking off the Acropolis. Yes, Athens rocks to the eternal soundtrack of car horns, mobile phones, Greeks shouting at each other in the street – and in recent times, tiresome street protests. But this ancient cradle of democracy is also an endlessly layered entity; overflowing with captivating contradictions, affirming humanity and a tangible buzz of freedom.
Athens’ mosaic of distinct inner-city neighbourhoods may best be sampled in night-loving Psyrri, anarchic bohemian Exarchia, born-again industrial Gazi, tourist-saturated Plaka, grungy upbeat Monastiraki (home to Athens best flea markets), or wildly exclusive Kolonaki, to the immediate west of Syntagma Square.
Not just for the romantic classicists, obstinate Athens can inspire everything from irritation and fury - to blind devotion. But it will always bestow its best gifts upon the adventurous and curious.