Alas, my time in Greece was cut short, so instead of a full-fledged epeisodion this will only be a capsule summary of the two places I had time to visit.
In the end, I quite liked Athens. It’s a bustling Mediterranean city, not quite as terminally hip as Barcelona but definitely getting there, and the contrasts kept things interesting: the modern technoparks of the northern suburbs where the office was, the gritty port town of Piraeus, the restored neoclassical buildings of Plaka and their smoky tavernas and the ultrahip bars of Thissio just a short stroll away… and towering above it all the 2500-year ruins atop the Acropolis. I’d been there as a kid, and I remembered precisely two things: it was bloody hot, and it was a long hike to the top. Some twenty-odd years later, both statements remained true, and even in notionally off-season September the place was packed with tourists (and scaffolding).
Full picture set: http://jpatokal.iki.fi/photo/travel/Greece/Athens/
On my solitary Sunday, I took the advice of a local colleague and headed off by ferry to Hydra, the third-closest Saronic Gulf island to Athens. My pictures do it no justice: on this sunny, breezy late summer day, it was gorgeous. Blue sky, clear waters, blindingly white houses, cobble-stoned streets with no cars, seaside cafes serving up frappes, topless women suntanning on the rocks… I spent half a day just walking around, and loved it.
Full picture set: http://jpatokal.iki.fi/photo/travel/Greece/Hydra/