During the Covid-19 quarantine, I had the chance to view Athens through a different lens, by biking to the center of the city alone. Crossing the expansive, deserted streets in this dense, urban city felt like being the only survivor after an atomic blast. The usual din of busses and teeming crowds around the Hellenic Parliament had been switched to mute. All I could hear were my bicycle wheels rolling across the pavement. Every day, I took the same route, from the suburbs to the hill of Acropolis, where I watched the sunset. I thought about how the pandemic had reshaped our lives, limited our travel and altered how learning could take place. What would be next? As I passed through Plaka, the quaint streets with their bustling commercial hangouts had transformed into silent alleys. Having known and loved the chaotic environment that rapid urban growth had created in my city, I would never have imagined the pall that had been cast over Athens.
Although the COVID-19 Pandemic has had an unprecedented effect on all of us, it allowed me to see with my own eyes how Athens had transformed into a robust city where the streets are empty. I felt baffled; I’ve got used to visiting the center of Athens which is always full of people. On the one side, I felt that a city with no people is like a person with no emotions but on the other side, I was able to see the natural beauty that Athens holds. This daily trip made me appreciate my city even more. I was able to see the metropolitan cathedral church of Athens and the peaceful and reflecting sensation that it gives to me. I biked through the ancient market which was not only without the usual crowds of people, but all of the food stands were closed.
A typical day here used to consist of swarms of people heading to work in the morning, crowding into restaurants later for lunch, weaving through throngs of tourists heading to the historical sites or the Acropolis Museum, with others loitering to kill time.
The emptiness and silence of Athens, revealed so many things that I didn’t know about the city I live in. The Covid crisis was (and is) a great opportunity to learn. Now that things are going back to “normal”, we need to avoid at all costs to go back to a “more of the same”. People should be more protective of our environment and appreciate the beauty of Athens