Greece - Lonely Planet

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My name is Victoria Kyriakopoulos, and I write about Athens for Lonely Planet.

It's not the love at first sight for most people, but it's a fascinating city. Athens sits in a basin, so basically there's mountain surrounding it that's where the pollution gets trapped, where infamous pollution problems come from.

Ever since the Olympics in 2004, Athens is a much prettier city. It's a much cleaner city. There's always streets of tables, havens, restaurants and bars outside. That's what surprises people, because you can go on to one neighborhood and think this is it, this is where everybody is, and then you walk 10 minutes down. And there's just as many tables outside, people sitting around.

Well most people go to Plaka, it's got lots of neoclassic buildings and you find the remains of many ancient temples. There's always something you are interested in to look at. You get some fantastic old style havens, serving hand-style Greek cooking. Most people shouldn't leave there without having one of their favorite soup lentil that you can get there. You don't really need to speak Greek to get around in Athens, most speak English.

The Acropolis is what defines Athens. And you might be a kind of heed down in a side street looking for a shop or doing something, instead of look up and you get a glimpse of it. It's every time, and it's just all inspiring. Light afternoon when the sun setting, it's just stunning. It's a must basically in Athens. It's loud. It's chaotic. It's vibrant. It's beautiful. Yet it's so so pretty. And you get this palpable sense of history there.

Keep it up in mind, and I think you will be pleasantly surprised.