Athens 2004 Olympic Letters


I have just read your atricle on the olympics and I am literally in
tears. I am a Greek-American who loves Greece and Athens as you do. The
2004 Games will be a moment in Greece like no other. I have never seen
Athens more beautiful. My husband and I took our 6 month old daughter
(despite all the criticism and negativity) and had such an incredible
time. Your webpage is great. Keep up the good work!!!!!!!!!

Hellas Rules

Hello, Matt,
I just stumbled across your page while looking for photographs of the 2004 Olympics on the web.  My good camera was stolen enroute to Athens, and although I brought a decent replacement, it was a point and shoot and lacked many of the features of my stolen camera.  Consequently, some of the shots I would have like were impossible, particularly during the two ceremonies.  Athens 2004 was my fourth Olympics, and my second visit to Athens in 3 years.  I think your story hits the mark!  Most of my friends thought me a fool for even considering going.  The Olympics themselves would be a shadow of Sydney's fabulous games, terrorism was rampant, etc., etc., ad nauseum.  I had the greatest time in the world!  Those with whom I work cannot get over some of the pictures, particularly within OAKA, showing views of the Olympics, venues, and the city that NBC never got close to showing.  In my mind, Athens 2004 was easily on a par with Sydney.  They were two very different cities, on two different continents, embracing two different cultures.  It is hard to say one is better than the other, but they both were much, much better than Atlanta (my first Olympics in person).  The hospitality of the Greek people was seen everywhere, and locals even took us (I travelled with a friend) out to dinner 4 times in the three weeks we were in Greece!  Not even the Aussie's did that!  I did notice a huge difference in Athens from 2002 to the Olympics.  I'll bookmark and keep reading your page.  Hopefully, I will get back to Greece late next spring.
Alan J. Gebhart

Hey Matt:  I just returned from a week in Athens for the Olympics.
Usually played tourist in the AM.  What a wonderful city and nation.
People were friendly and when the Greek athletes did well it was a joy
to share their excitement.   Also thanks for your web site.  It was the
best resource before my trip and also again now that I have returned
home (and am trying to ID the photos).  Greece will definately deserve
another visit.  Thanks again.

Ken Ruth
Sidney, OH
Matt..... oh Yea,

I do agree with you on everything you said in your article.  I had the best time in Athens and will treasure it for the rest of my life because I knew that the Olympics should be seen in the place where they were born. 

I still keep thinking, two months later, of the places I visited and the people I had the pleasure of meeting  and the places I did not have time to visit.  I am still developing my picture from my new camera which hold 1200 pictures.  Yes I did go overboard taking pictures but out of those 1200, I have printed 300 and I will put them in my family album. 

And for sure, too bad for those who did not come, because you missed out.  I'm glad I was there, if for only 10 days and I know I will return.

Thank you Matt for the wonderful advise in your articles, you made my trip the best I could possibly make it, and also many thanks to George Grassimidis of Fantasy travel who made the day, evening, island, and Delphi tours just the best.

Best Regards

Jaime Alex Montes

Matt Barrett,

Thank you for those kind words about Greece and its people! You brought me to tears when I read your website! Not only did it bring back memories of this summer but restored pride of my ethnic background. I am Greek-American and I was in Athens the whole summer as I volunteered my services at OAKA.

Every night I was at the Plaka or Thissio till the early mornings. I miss Athens so much! Though it is back to reality, it is good to hear others and their experiences this summer! I am happy you enjoyed your stay there! Again thank you for those words! Take care!

Demetra Vakkas

I just read your piece on your feelings and perceptions following the end of the Olympic Games in Athens. I was there with my wife and daughter (we attended the Track and Field finals on August 28 and the Marathon finish on August 29) and we share many of your thoughts, particularly how much we miss Athens now that the Games have ended. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience. (You can probably guess from my email address how I feel about Athens 2004.)

Do you know if Greek television or the Athens 2004 Olympic committee or Greek TV (ERT) will be offering some kind of commemorative DVD showing the opening and closing ceremonies in their entirety as well as highlights of the Games? (I'm going to guess this may be offered here in the U.S. through, for example, NBC Sports, but, excellent as the NBC coverage was (Bob Costas is the best in the business), I believe that the Greek TV coverage was superior in that the TV reporters tended to step out of the way and simply let you enjoy what was unfolding on the screen without incessant commentary or interruption). If you do know about the DVD, please let me know where it can be purchased.

George S.

Hi Matt!

I just returned from 2 weeks in Athens during the Olympics.  Your guide was
invaluable to my family and I.  We tried several of your restaraunts in the
Plaka and Psiri and returned with friends.  We were never disappointed in
your recommendations.

We also had George the taxi driver pick us up at the airport and one of his
drivers brought us back.

Despite the rumors, we found the city to be well prepared for the crowds.
Public transportation was readily available and the volunteers were very

One problem arose when my husband sprained his ankle on the Acropolis.  he
had to taken to the hospital where he was treated for a severe ankle sprain.
The ambulance ride, an ex-ray and visit to the doctor only cost me $ 3.23

We look forward to returning to Greece in the near future.  Thanks for your
Dawn Boehm

Dear Matt
I emailed you regarding travelling to Athens for the Olympics earlier this summer - just wanted to say how I so agreed with your comments regarding how fantastic the Olympics were - we were only in Athens 2 days (spent the rest of the time in Pelion which was so beautiful), but it was an experience of a lifetime. 
Unforgettable... will always live with me!
Caroline Price

Dear Matt,
I just read your page about "after the Olympics" and share some of your feelings.  I am from the USA and was a performer in the Closing Ceremony.  I was there for six weeks for rehearsal, etc. and found myself wondering where all the Americans were.  Too bad about all the terrorism hype and that people let it get to them.  After a fun time in the New Zealand Hospitality House, I went in search of the American House.  I found it, but it was in hiding and I didn't get much of a reception.  Depressing.

Bravo to Athens and Greece and all that they accomplished.  I kept an online journal
( of my experiences with the Olympics and I'm in the process of writing my "final entry."  A bit sad that it's all over but amazing that I participated in such an historic event.

I went looking online for a CD of the music from the Closing Ceremony and a DVD of Opening/Closing.  Do you know if one exists?  Surely one will be produced.  Since I was in the Closing I didn't get to see the whole thing, and while friends did a video tape of it, the commercial interruptions cut out a lot.

Cat Dancing Productions
Adventure consulting and other creative endeavors.  
Hi Matt -

I just got back from Athens last week.  I went with a group of 8 people
from my church to volunteer during the Olympics with the Greek Evangelical
Church.  We have been planning this trip for about a year.  I checked your
website regularly before we went and it really helped me feel comfortable
in Athens.  This was my first trip out of the US so many of the customs may
have been very strange to me but I felt prepared after extensively studying
your website - THANKS!!

We particularly appreciated your language page - but you left off one VERY
important phrase - kah-nee po-lee zes-tee!!

One thing we learned about in Athens that I hope you will add to your
website - we met a group of people who volunteer feeding the cats in the
parks - they also catch them to vaccinate and spay/neuter.  They accept
donations to keep their mission going.  I hope you will put their website
in your stray dog (/cat) page:

Again - thank you for all the work you have put into this wonderful
website!  Athens is a great city and I hope to visit  again - without the
Olympics (and the heat!!)

Karen Lenz
Great article Matt.

Unfortunately I could not make it to my country's Olympic Games, but I and
my whole family sure enjoyed watching the telecast of the opening and
closing ceremonies and needless to say the games that were shown on TV.

I am very proud of my heritage, and I am so glad that the Hellenes proved
all the world wrong.  They forget Greeks may take their time, but they
deliver nothing but 100% at the end of it all.

Glad to read you enjoyed the Games and enjoy the beautiful people of Greece
and it's beautiful treasures.

A few TV personalities now are starting to recognise the hospitality and
friendliness of the people 'from the land of the living'.

All the best
Kind Regards,
Maggie Politidis
As a child I was always fascinated with the pictures in my history books, the Acropolis, Parthenon, and all that was a part of that time period. As fate would have it I watched the opening ceremonies of the Olimpiad in Greece and was wondering about my next adventure. I typed the Acroplis on a web search and in a few strokes found your web pages. For the next two weeks I watched the games and devoured your web pages. Thank you for sharing in so intimate detail your feelings, experience, family, and knowledge. I am now planning a trip to greece. Your information answered many questions and fed many fantasies...Thank you


Marie Ritter

Deat Matt, While preparing for my trip to the 2004 Athens Olympics  for NBC Sports, I was browsing the web site for some interesting Greek sites on the internet.  I'm glad I came across your Athens Survival guide because it was very useful and easy to read and I love your stories and your good advice on money and site seeing trips of the islands.  While I was shooting for NBC Sports, I was also shooting my own video and will call it "MY Big Fat Greek NBC Olympic Vacation" because I had plently of time to shoot my video while working on the Olympics.  My olympic venue was the "Olympic Village" and we were called the Village, my producer and Chuck the other camera operator.   We worked an eight hour shift only at the village.  I had 7A to 3P shift and was planning my sites to shoot right after.  It was great.  I plan to visit next year again.  Thanks for your help.  Onward, Vincent

Hi Matt,
Thanks for introducing me to Mr Melissinos. He was a willing participant in my documentary. It was a most interesting experience, as about 50 tv crews from around the world stopped by his shop during the Olympics & I enjoyed the int'l & family atmosphere in the shop.
The other two characters, as I mentioned, were Alexia Amvrazi (at Athens 104.4 radio) father (an olympics volunteer). I'll hopefully send you a copy in the fall sometime.
Angelike Contis


I just wanted to tell you what people said to me during the olympics:

People really thought the city was amazing and a lot stated (europeans) that they would return to athens at a different time.  Many said for long weekends, christmas, new years and some for easter.  Hopefully rick steves understands that the olympics will create much tourism as it did in Barcelona.  Many people will be going now for 1 week stays in the city, which could be supplemented with many side trips and make athens and environs quite satisfying for a week.  Mayor Bakoyianni has done wonders in showcasing athens especially last christmas...she got rid of that huge tree and made it more elegant and now with refurbished plateias, can you image the tourists reactions.  Additionally, the olympic facilities will be turned into conference centers and those people will need a guide to keep busy during there stay.  And the post olympics plans for a huge park at the old hellinikon etc. is going to continue to make athens desirable.  Again, just thinking out loud of what people said to me during my stay at the olympics
Have a great day

My daughter played basketball in Athens and I studied your sight before going and your knowledge of the area is vast.  Many times I knew where we were just by your photos and descriptions.  I had a great time and loved every minute of Greece.

Brett Carver

Dear Matt - I came across your Olympics site last night while surfing on the internet. I agree with your perspective of the games and the hypocrisy of the media for focusing on the empty seats. The photos are great. Of course I also took photos. My 21 year son and I went to the games, and it was the best time. Ever. Athens is fantastic and the people could not have been warmer. Plaka, Thission, Glyfada, concerts, son never came back to the house until after sunrise...and then we were off to yet another event, riding the subway, which could not have been easier.  We rented a house in Kifissia. The world owes Greece a big time apology.

Mike Abelson

Dear Matt,

I just saw your page about the Olympic Games in Athens. I am Greek and I worked for the ATHENS 2004 Organizing Committee for two and a half years. You have no idea how much your page means to me. Because of you and your page I know that all that hard work has finally paid off.

I was born in New York City but both my parents are Greek. When my parents and I left New York to move to Greece I was 9. I am now 28 years old and I still live in Athens. I visit my friends and relatives back in the USA at least every two years. The question everybody always asks me when I visit is “ Do you feel more Greek or more American?” I never really knew what to answer. This year when I visited them after the Olympics and they asked me that very same question I answered with a smile “I love everything about New York, I love the fact that I still have an American accent………. but the best feeling I ever had was at the end of the Olympic Games when the Greeks had proven to the world that they are capable of doing anything and that makes me Greek.”

Thank you for your wonderful page Matt. Come back to Athens soon.

 Gelly K

Dear Matt. I am a Greek from Athens, and in love of our Hellada... I can not
describe how much better I felt after visiting your webpage, because I had
started believing that the foreign press is either to ignorrant or too bad.
I was very dissapointed with the world that decided to spend all its time,
effort, and money to destroy a nation's dream. And I deeply regret the
moments I spent during the first months of 2004 being sad about what i heard
on the news against Athens, Hellas and us! As I know how we are as a nation
(allways find a way to do the miracle) I didn't pay more attention, and the
best moment of my life was watching the Opening Ceremony while thinking of
the faces of all these media men and women that were desperately searching
for something new (and bad) to say... Even though the apology came, it came
very late - just after succeeding frightening the world, but whatever they
might have said or written, all of us who were there know they were the best
Games ever, because after all "there is no place like home"!
Thanks a lot
Dioni K

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