Greece, the end

In retrospect, Athens was seriously so-so, riding around was obviously awesome, and Thessaloniki, which I only got to spend a full day in, had some serious potential for a good time. A lot cheaper, a lot more relax, a lot more walkable (most of its seafront is a park), it’s worth checking out. Athens is obviously a must see since it’s packed with history, but if you’d like a glimpse of actual Greece, don’t linger there.

 

Thessaloniki's seafront park

Thessaloniki’s seafront park

With the exception of the Meteoras (monasteries), the further I was from the popular routes, the better it was. Not only was it more authentic, but it had a quality that was lacking elsewhere: it was made for the Greeks by the Greeks. Sadly, it feels like most of  coastline has become one large resort catered to eastern Europe and Italy, with the loss of culture, architecture and pollution that comes with it. Greece has much to offer, which explains its popularity with the rest of the world, but it’s tough to enjoy it to the fullest when it’s such a hassle all the time.Tourism is great, but only up to a given concentration, otherwise it becomes a destructive force.

Hot dogs and café, a popular combination

Hot dogs and coffee, a popular combination

The Greeks are great. Their economy is in shambles (which the common person does not have much to do with) but they are friendly, joyful and helpful. Still those abandoned buildings, closed stores and stray dogs (everywhere, some still with collars) were generally a sad sight, but did provide me with a few urban exploring and « feels like a movie » experiences. Food, to my surprise, was a huge disappointment; I was expecting a lot more from a Mediterranean country with the ability to grow such a variety of crops. My diet revolved for the most part around gyros, sandwiches and a salad here and there. Granted, I stayed away from the actual restaurants that could have had a better selection of dishes for me to try, but I maintain that generally what’s available on at a cheap price is a good indication of a culture’s culinary diversity. In Greece, it was mostly gyros and your standard burger and fries.

Otherwise, I’ll keep fond memories of the country. I saw only a handful of ruins and only went to the beach once and for 30 minutes, but man did I see some excellent scenery and rode on the most enjoyable roads of my life. However, I’ve missed the hiking, I’ve missed the food, I’ve missed the diving, I’ve missed the islands, I’ve missed the wine (but not the Ouzo) I’ve missed so many things so Greece, we will see each other again.

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