Greece - A Tale of Two Trips


You can tell a lot about a city by how it has changed over the years.   I've been to Athens, Greece twice.  The first time in 1984 and then again 23 years later in 2007.   Both times I visited the Acropolis of Athens which is where the photo below was taken.   Both were taken at the same spot.

Steve Hunsicker at the Acropolis of Athens at age 24 and age 47

When I arrived for the first time, Greece was just starting to recover from a economic downturn.   The drachma was the official currency and there was a very favorable exchange rate with the US Dollar. I spent 70 cents to take a taxi ride across Athens.   Breakfast for two one morning was less than two dollars. And I don't think we ever paid more than 7 or 8 dollars for a hotel room.  

It was also a time of political unrest.  I woke up one morning to see an anti-American protest right outside my hotel window.   This was Europe, but it was also one of the poorer European countries.    

But for me, it was exciting.  To visit the ancient ruins dating back to the year 400BC was amazing.  I had my first glass of retsina, which is Greek wine flavored with pine resin.   And it was wonderful to go into a restaurant where no one spoke English and they were thrilled to have a tourist present.

I loved the unevenness of the city.  It was an adventure and a place to which I often thought about returning.

In 2007, I finally made it back.  The ruins were untouched, mostly the same way I remembered them.  The rest of the city was unrecognizable.   The country was clearly more prosperous, the Euro was now the currency and it was no longer dirt cheap.     Now the streets are lined with outdoor restaurants and coffee shops catering to tourists.   There are street performers and kiosks selling every kind of souvenir.    And there are tourists everywhere.  The city is modern, but yet somehow still inviting.    Even sitting in a modern restaurant, it was intoxicating to look up and see the illumination of the Acropolis up on the hill at night.  

At first, I was disappointed, missing the Athens of my youth.  But just as I've grown up and changed over the years, so has this city.  Like me, some things are better and some things are showing their age.


I've linked below the radio interview I did after my first trip.  The part about Greece starts at 34:50.

Dates of Travel

  • March and April, 1984
  • September, 2017

Places Visited

  • Athens
  • Mykonos
  • Santorini

Radio Interview



This post is part of my series "One Photo - One Country."  I'm am selecting one photo and writing one story from every country I have visited.   Your comments and questions are welcome.  

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