Athens : football celebrations 2004
home | districts | Easter parade | eat & drink | hotels | photos | places | traffic | transport | weather

I was in Athens in 2004 during the time of the football European Championships. The Greek team was in the finals, but the pundits had written them off. It was a Friday evening when they played France in the quarter finals.

In the UK, national football team games are watched in the local pub with your mates and a few drinks. With this thought in mind I headed out early, hoping to find a restaurant with a TV and an empty table within sight of the TV. I headed straight for one of my favourite restaurants. The streets were empty, few bars even had customers - or TVs - it seemed that the Greeks were not as passionate about football as I thought.

The Hermion restaurant had only a smattering of customers. I ate watching the first half, and sat back with a few beers for the second. Sometime in that second half Greece scored what turned out to be the winning goal. As it went in I did the standard clenched fist 'yes' celebration, making more noise than anyone else in the place, including the four waiters - the only other people, it seemed, with any interest in the game.

Athens: the Hotel Amalia So it ended. It was late, around 11pm and I set off back for my hotel, the Amalia. Still no-one in the streets, strangely, not even tourists. In my bedroom half an hour later I had the TV on, tuned into the news channel in hope of seeing the football hi-lights. Of course it was all in Greek, but the scenes of jubilation in the streets needed no translation. Hah, at least someone is celebrating the victory I thought. On the TV people were gathering, car horns were sounding. But wait, that was Omonia Square, a few hundred yards from where I was sitting. Hold on, those horns aren't on TV, they're live, they're coming from outside my room.

Sure enough, a glance out the window showed that the celebrations had indeed come to me, and I was going to get no sleep in the near future. So I went down to the hotel reception, got a beer, lit up a nice King Edward's, and stood on the pavement to watch the crowds go by. The Amalia hotel is almost opposite the parliament building - and so was [a] on the route for many thousands making their way to Omonia, and [b] on the circuit on which the fans were driving continuously, horns sounding, all vehicles were bedecked in flags, streamers, even flares. I couldn't help but be pleased for them all, even though England had been knocked out of the competition the day before.

The street party fizzled out around 2am. I can only image what it was like a week later when the Greek team won the competition.

Follow the links below for more of my advice on visiting the city of Athens

home | districts | Easter parade | eat & drink | hotels | photos | places | traffic | transport | weather
Copyright Alan Charlesworth - you are welcome to use any of the content of this site - but if you do so, please include a link to it