AthensGrams

Through a string of circumstances, I ended up with some days to kill in Athens, Greece waiting on a connecting flight to Santorini for a wedding shoot. Admittedly, as I left JFK, I had some trepidation about spending the entire time in the famous ancient city. All I'd heard leading up to the trip were terrible things. A few that come to mind were "Athens is a two day city... MAX," "It's filthy," "Don't carry too much money around and be careful at night," and even "There's packs of roaming wild dogs." But for a city dating back 3,000 years, I also figured that surely 12 days could be spent learning about it's strong history and it's turbulent present, while hopefully staying out of trouble.

I arrived at midday under a searing sun, found my room in the area of Psirri, then ventured out into the streets to get a feel for the place. By sunset of day one, all the negative comments I'd heard had disappeared from memory as I quickly tapped into the incredible vibe of the city and it's people. Over the following days, Athens really took a hold of me. Maybe the fact that my expectations had been low helped somewhat, but it's magnetism and energy were undeniable. Sure, there was grit, but for me it harmonized perfectly with the numerous grand and glorious ruins that dotted the city. There was also a very strong arts and night life scene, too many incredible restaurants and maybe the friendliest locals I've come across anywhere.

The Greek summer schedule is something to behold. Due to the intense daytime heat, the city life really only emerges later in the afternoon. By dusk, the streets are packed. Families join each other to eat al fresco at restaurants. From one of many vantage points the city offers, you can marvel at the skyline that's dotted with glowing rooftop bars. I'd often find myself eating dinner around 1am surrounded by locals, young and old, who held deep conversations that I'm guessing went on well after I turned in for the day.

It really gave me the chance to get back to my roots. Not that I'm Greek, but it was being a tourist that got me into photography. Here I had 12 days to really sink my teeth into a place and just explore. No agenda, no assignment, just a camera, a shitty free map a lot of sunscreen. Riding the metro to far off neighborhoods, picking a random stop, getting off, getting lost, seeing what I came across. It was incredibly liberating and my eyes were once again wide. Here's a selection of images from my days that I posted to my Instagram account, - @andrewkellyphoto -.

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