For the third time in five days I went to the center of Athens and there was a demonstration for all roads leading to Syntagma Square and the Parliament building to be blocked by police cordons. Today it was the turn of the Ministry of Culture workers, so there were no public museums or open art galleries. Of course, you could still visit the Acropolis and, after all, that is the main attraction of Athens after all these centuries. As my taxi driver told me while we were going, we passed it to enter Plaka (a winding route, but very picturesque) “The steps may be new, but the rock is the same”.
Only one stray dog seemed to notice that we were going down a one-way street in the opposite direction. He was a little upset when he heard the horn honk and had to move from his sleeping position in the middle of the street. I finally reached my destination, Kidathenaeion Street, and I was glad I made the detour, as I will be leaving Athens in a few days and will miss this area under the shadow of the Acropolis more than I can say.
If you start from Syntagma Square and go through Mitropoleus Street, where the cathedral stands in its ornate splendor, go straight on Philellenon Street and turn right in front of the Russian Church. This is the beginning of Kidathenaeion Street and Plaka. Plaka means “joke” and the area was noted for its bohemianism in 19th century Athens. Now you can still see the carefully restored neoclassical buildings that thirty years ago were neglected and in disrepair. Over the years, they have regained their former glory.
At the top of this marble street there is a small restaurant where you can have good coffee and pastries (cheese or spinach cakes), the traditional Greek sandwiches and international roils, baguettes and wraps. There are also beers and soft drinks, including freshly squeezed orange juice.
Walk a little further and on the corner of Kidathenaeion and Nikis streets you will find Majestic Travel, an unattractive place but a travel agency that I have used frequently over the years and that has always given me good value for money- Price and friendly service. To the right is a small corner store that sells almost everything.
Cross Nikis Street and you will find yourself in the tourist area with souvenir shops ranging from the cheapest to the most expensive gold ones. There are traditional Greek taverns, a couple of pizzerias, the Museum of Popular Art and in front of it a beautiful Byzantine church.
Cross the street and you come to the leather shop on your left and a bar on your right, and walk a little further until you find the Plaka Taverna and a cafe bar in front of it, in front of a small square where you can sunbathe. or sit in the shade provided by the café-bar and the huge hundred-year-old trees. Right now it could probably use some food and the Plaka Taverna has been my choice for over thirty years.
When you’ve eaten, walk down Adrianou street and see the ruins of the agora, then go back and pass all the souvenir shops that line both sides of that street. If you walk all the way down that street, you will come to the ruins of the Roman baths in the Monastiraki area, where there are more cafes and taverns and where you have an unobstructed view of the Acropolis.
Don’t let the demonstrations keep you from spending time in Athens, the rest of the mainland, or the Greek islands. You can always get information on demos from hotel staff and travel agency staff. I have been able to cross Athens without much trouble during the street closures for demonstrations. Just be prepared for a little detour and pay about three euros more if you are in a taxi.
Come see Athens and walk down my favorite street! The country needs you!