Athens: Great Food, Big Economic Questions, and Hair on Fire

05/01/2015 04:34 pm ET | Updated May 01, 2016

Every year it seems I go to places partly because naive and gullible Americans, whose worldview is fed by a diet of hysterical commercial TV news, are avoiding those places for supposed safety reasons. Of course, Greece has its economic crisis. But that doesn't mean the 10 million people who live there aren't living life with creativity and gusto.

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I love to see students on the road. These two George Washington University students (enjoying a semester abroad) discovered the Karamanlidika by Fanis restaurant just like I did.


The big question on people's minds here: Will Greece stick with the euro or return to the drachma? There's a monument to Greece's historic currency next to the mayor's residence. For Greeks, the problem with being on the euro is that their currency is lashed to Germany, when instead it should have the flexibility to rise and fall in value as needed. Yet locals fear that if they go back to the drachma overnight, the value of their savings will drop by more than half. I wouldn't want to count on a retirement here, but as a tourist you barely notice any economic crisis.

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Athens is not a pretty city. In fact, in conventional terms, it's pretty ugly. But for locals, the graffiti is just there. They hardly see it. Given that graffiti is a reality, I do my best to enjoy it rather than ignore it.

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There's an unwritten rule among street artists/taggers that if a building is already painted they won't mess it up. So, many businesses (like this insurance company) actually hire street artists to pre-emptively paint their storefronts.