After an incredibly full day of sightseeing followed with a night of partying (PG style with students), I was ready to sleep in for our one day “off.” However, I left out my running shoes just in case I woke up with enough time to squeeze in a run, knowing that there would be no other opportunity. When I woke up at 5am, unable to go back to sleep, the choice was easy.
While we have done a lot of sightseeing, it’s been completely controlled with a tour guide and a bus so running in a new city always helps me figure out what the place is really like. Based on what I’ve seen so far, Athens is struggling hard. You know those old craftsman houses that are charming but someone added an addition in the 80s that doesn’t jibe with the house and and now the whole thing looks run down and out of place? That’s Athens.
From my hotel, I headed down towards the water where we have already done a small amount of sightseeing. I figured I could run along the port where all the fancy yachts and big cruise ships are parked, but the sidewalk just ended so I double-backed, and never found a decent through point.
While there were a lot of people out walking, no one was running or riding a bike (sad for the place that invented the Olympics). Every other building is covered in graffiti, abandoned, or littered with garbage. While there are definitely some cool things to see, the sidewalks and roads are in disrepair (and not the charming cobblestone kind of way).
From my map, there seemed to be a few parks so I changed direction back towards the hotel. Those parks? Not exactly parks.
After circling the area in oppressive heat, I went back to the hotel. Granted, I was relegated to the area of our hotel and yesterday we walked around the Plaka District, which was far nicer – but mostly, Greece seems to be a mishmash of really historic places that they are trying to uphold, while letting the modern fall by the wayside.
Today we are headed to the beach so regardless of my crappy run experience, we are still exploring Greece as much as possible. And hey – it’s June and I only have four more runs to cross this goal off the list.