Athens will always be a psychic shock for the traveller. The only place more defined by history is a museum, and to millions of minds Athens will always be an open-air academy of toga-wearers surrounded by marble columns. You know that information is just a little out of date, but the image won’t leav you. Unless you go there.
On first approach it’s the most organic city you’ve ever seen. Much more grown than built .From the air it’s an endless expanse of white houses, growing out along the coast and among the hills, white clusters more like a massive shrubs than small buildings. Between the sun and the sea it’s obviously where humanity was meant to live. So comfortable to live, so easy to grow, so convenient to travel around their own little pet sea, the city could just keep expanding. You get the feeling that people only populated the rest of Europe because Athens realized that they’d have to keep some room to grow grapes, so poor Billyonysus was brought aside and told “Listen, we like you and all, but it’s either you or wine and you’re really not that much fun.” And poor Billy grumbled north to settle somewhere colder.
Unfortunately those Billys would built things even bigger and more powerful than temples to the gods, with even more perceived power to bless and ruin its subjects. They were called banks and economies, and hey would all crash down on Athens harder than the worst of Poseidon’s wrath. Now parts of the city look like they’ve been bombed and then sold the rubble for spraypaint.
The city is stuffed with ruins. Only some of them are ancient. Once-beautiful houses fester like rotting teeth, and gaps in the streets are common where waste ground simply hasn’t been used. It makes you wonder what the wonderful ruins must have looked like shortly after they fell. Instead of awesome testaments to the ancient glory they would have been monuments to recent failure. The empty homes of gods, left in a land abandoned by the bigger forces which claimed to create everything good.
Luckily for Athens it was always the people who really made things work. And they’re still working now, and millions more travel to the tombs of the gods than ever attended upon their living glory.