In the Steps of Sappho
Athens Welcomes Womin
by Penelope Papadopoulou
When I was asked to write an article welcoming lesbians from all over the world to Athens, I told my editor that my phone number and some photos of Athens by night would be enough. She gave me one of her scathing looks and said nothing. She is great, but sometimes has no sense of humor.
Let's get down to business: you are a lesbian and you want to know the ins and outs of Athens from an insider.
The gay village of Athens is almost a reality; you'll find it in Gazi, not too far from Omonia square. The lesbian bars of Athens are not many, but you can meet lesbians almost everywhere. Wherever you are and suspect that a girl is flirting with you, don't hesitate. There are many straight women who will appreciate a lesbian one-night stand. The only thing that you have to do is to forget about it the next day - you don't want trouble. Lesbian bars will satisfy most tastes. You can meet cute 20something girls with piercings in almost everything; lipstick dykes that are totally straight looking but in bed can be a revelation; the next door plumber girl who will treat you like a princess; as well as the regular fashion victims - but in general you'll find women that can't easily be categorised - well dressed, well mannered women of all ages, shapes and sizes. Greek lesbians drink and dance a lot, especially to Greek music and stay out until the sun rises, when they sometimes drive straight to the sea for a swim. There is a beach, well not exactly a beach, it's just a rock face, called Limanakia (see page 9). Lots of gay men and lesbians go swimming there. Don't miss the sunset at the ancient temple of Sounio either - it's a must!
Don't expect me to tell you to visit Acropolis, unless you are so drunk that you think the Parthenon is a pyramid without the desert. Try to visit the bouzoukia, it's a unique experience, but if you are a vegetarian that goes to bed early, loves peace and quiet, has been in the same relationship for the past 20 years and enjoys opera, your visit to one may need a second thought, unless you need something to shake you up!
You can also visit Lesvos, Sapphos's island, but it's a bit far from Athens, so you need a few extra days for that.
Don't forget, it's socially acceptable to flirt with anyone anywhere. In Athens, there aren't any lesbian bookshops or stuff like that. We do read but with such wonderful weather we prefer going out. During the Olympics, some of the chief meeting points for lesbians will be the women's sports events: football, basketball (more), volleyball (less), weightlifting (yes, yes!), wrestling (mmm), tennis (Martina will be in town), judo, karate and tae-kwon-do (I hate violence, but the wrestlers are sexy). Don't forget all the gay parties that will be taking place either.
As for lesbian bars, those frequented by lesbians are mostly Aroma, Fairytale, En Merei, So Bar So Food, Sodade and Troll; see page 14 for more info.
As for kissing your girlfriend in public, Greeks are not used to such public shows of affection between gays or lesbians, and they do like to stare in general, but it's highly unlikely you'll get any hassle in central Athens if you do decide to take the plunge.
Enjoy your visit and, who knows, we might bump into each other. Unfortunately there is no space for my phone number, but you can drop us an email at email@example.com!