I hear it a lot, these days: "OK, you've got the Acropolis, you've got Plaka, you've got Koukaki, and Ermou street, and you've got Syntagma square. BUT apart from all that, Athens is one UGLY son-of-a-gun city, full of noise and chaotic traffic, with ugly blocks of flats everywhere, with no local color, with dirty and narrow pavements that are pedestrian-hostile, with irritable Athenians, with illegally parked cars everywhere!"
I've been living in Athens for 35 years, and I have to admit that it's always been like that: over-crowded and over-populated. That is actually one of the things I resent, about this city.
You have to be very-very careful when you're driving around, especially as you approach crossroads or junctions, where speeding cars, motorcycles driving in the opposite direction, and pedestrians seem to be flocking towards you from all directions.
Pavements are narrow, filled with parked cars, trees, and trash-bins... That's a hostile place for a disabled person to move around in a wheelchair.
Thousands of blocks of flats have permanently altered the cityscape. Those monstrous buildings are not even nice looking. They were hastily built during the 60's and 70's when there was an urgent need for massive housing, due to greeks flocking to the capital in search of jobs and better life opportunities.
Athens IS overcrowded and chaotic.
BUT, at the same time, it's also full of places to go, hotspots to visit, restaurants, taverns and bars, small and large shops, sights, museums, historical buildings, eateries, picturesque squares...
As a city, it's NEVER going to change.
So a visitor has a clear choise: either moan endlessly about the over-population and chaotic atmosphere, or take advantage of the 100s of opportunities that the city offers, in terms of having a good time and doing things.
As a matter of principle, I always choose the second option!
Nevertheless, here's some more UGLY photos of Athens...