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Athens is a city that has gone through countless transformations throughout its long and turbulent history. The dawn of the 21st century found the ancient city with a multitude of much-needed changes: a vast new infrastructure system; a sparkling and continuously expanding new Metro and immaculate stations, many of which display the artifacts found during its construction; and a new international airport named one of the world's finest by the International Air Transport Association. The ancient sites have been linked together by a promenade, a unique city boardwalk around classical Athens with antiquities on one side and modern-day sidewalk cafes, galleries, renovated mansions, and rotating outdoor art installations on the other. All in all, 10 miles of downtown Athens's streets have been pedestrianized, transforming the city into a stroller's delight and into a much more charming, accessible, and enjoyable city than before. Pavements have been widened and squares refurbished or redesigned. The capital's coastline has also been revived, with a dizzying selection of cafes, restaurants, and open-air nightclubs by the sea and in marinas; the coast also has a multitude of sporting facilities, pedestrian shopping districts, and pristine beaches -- all a mere tram ride from downtown.

 

As you explore Athens, try to make the city your own. Walk its streets, take in its scents, linger in its sidewalk cafes, squares, and rooftop terraces, take in a show in an ancient open-air theater, or an avant-garde performance, concert, or art exhibition at one of the new multipurpose arts complexes, or enjoy a movie under the stars. Climb its mountains, swim in its waters, visit its ancient temples and Byzantine churches, try its food and its nightlife, and see as many museums as you can. Take a stroll along the Archaeological Promenade, inside the lush National Gardens and Zappeio gardens, through the many neighborhoods and ports, and find yourself at the top of Lycabettus Mountain or Cape Sounion at dusk for two of the most spectacular sunsets outside of Santorini. Explore its ancient districts and its most modern ones to witness an ancient city discovering its modern soul in front of your very eyes. Long after you have gone, you may feel a strange call, a certain nostalgia for something you will not be able to explain at first. You will soon realize it is Athens calling you back like a siren as she has done to so many of us that have tried to leave her. For anybody that has taken the time to truly get to know her, you will find yourself longing to return to her embrace. Exciting and exasperating, ancient and modern, seductive and unforgettable -- welcome to Athens.