The Greek capital has changed much in the past 20 years, but sometimes it’s hard to separate fact from hype. The new Acropolis Museum, truly spectacular, but what about Gazi, the former gasworks district everybody talks about? Yes. Go there.
As soon as you exit the Keramikos Metro station, visitors feel the pulse – lights, music and a buzz as exciting as any city’s.
The music calling from one of the numerous sleek and attractive venues was most enticing for its American songs. Friendly hosts and servers help you find a spot amid the modern ambiance that includes the Acropolis in the distance.
Amerikanomania reigned on a recent Saturday night at Gazarte with original 60s songs from the United States and beloved Greek copies. Monsieur Minimal and his band and Andriana Babali with her velvet voice and slinky red dress were joined by long-time favorite Dakis.
Athens streets are not on a perfect grid like Manhattan’s, but sometimes curving pedestrian ways like Adrianou Street quickly get you to the desired spot in Plaka or diagonals like Alexander the Great Avenue are a perfect short cut, in this case between the high flying Gazi and up and coming Metaxourgeio districts.
Ordinarily one is not advised to walk down lonely streets after dark, but Megalex Avenue will entice you with one quiet little restaurant, then another,and then another, so one feels secure.
The first thing one notices is the overall dinginess and decrepitude of the buildings housing the restaurants, but you will keep finding more and more and one will draw you in with its appealing music, live or recorded, or the food that smells delicious.
But it’s the kefi – the spirit of the guests with their friends and family that grabs you – and the décor that impressed at Gazi is less important there.