Athens Reviews - Page 1
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Posted by rodrigues1 on
Category: Athens Sightseeing > Temple of Poseidon
Cape Sounion is one of the most amazing places to visit in Athens, especially for the sunset. Ravishingly amazing spot to be at the sun set.
Posted by erikht12 on
Category: Athens General
After one week on Naxos is was time to move on to Athens. I had an uneventful flight to Athens, and like always a taxi friend of mine was there waiting for me. A quick transfer to my hotel, I had chosen Airotel Parthenon again after my stay there for Christmas-New Year, when I liked it so much and decided this should be my future hotel in Athens whenever it is available for my visits.
I was in for my first big surprise. The staff made a warm welcome for me, like an old friend returning home, and I was truly expected. The lady in the reception then told me that they were doing some major renovation and modernisation of their room and that she would like me to have one on the upper floor to give them my evaluation of the changes. A much bigger room than the one I originally had booked, but there would be no extra charge. A few minutes after entering the room the phone rang, and they asked me if I would be staying in for some minutes. I confirmed, a knock on the door and a waiter brought me a nice bottle of wine and a fruit bowl with compliments from the management... Great!
The room was brand new, nice and much brighter than the rooms used to be, some earth colours the main theme in between and even all the furniture had been changed. A big surprise also awaited me when I went out on the balcony, which turned out to be a spacious terrace on the very top of the building, two tables and several chairs.
I was aware that the next week I would be in Athens when my local friends were working or being away, and was prepared for a relaxing time on my own, doing further exploring in the city, taking photos which both would ensure my memories as well as being helpful for making easy guide support for others visiting Athens later on. I met up with a friend in James Joyce for a couple of hours, and for Saturday lunch I did an appointment with my newlywed friends. They also brought Maria from Naxos along, together with some other girls I had met in their wedding, and the girls were off shopping. The two males of us walked down Adrianou, and found a nice and quiet cafe for some refreshment in the shades. After a long while the girls also came along, and not having found what they were looking for we had to join them walking through the Flea Market for eventual options.
What was supposed to be a lunch rather turned out to be an evening meal in the end. My newlywed friends would introduce me to a nice restaurant in Psirri, but coming there people were waiting in line to get a table. I told them about Oineas, where they had never been, and it was approved. Coming there Katharina (the manager) soon spotted me, and came running for all the usual greetings, kissing and hugging, and before we actually knew what happened a table was ready for us with a big bowl of crab with spaghetti, and a large bottle of white wine. My friends were very surprised, and I had to tell them that this is my favourite in Athens, having visiting it regularly since it opened in 1999. Another star in the book came when they realised that this was the restaurant used for a popular TV show a while ago, and both Katharina and her husband came to our table to tell all about it.
More friends came along (all of them nice, young girls), and we had a great meal with sharing all of the most tasty dishes. More wine came along (on the house), and it turned out to be a great event until late in the evening. For sweets we walked to the ice cream cafe around the corner from Psirri Square, another place that was new for my friends, and another great success. When we quite late decided to leave for home we two guys had the great company of 9 content young girls!
On Sunday, I decided to visit the Eros exhibition in the Cycladic Museum branch in Stathatos Mansion along Vassilis Sofias. The exhibition had been extended for the public for some extra days, and this Sunday was the last day they were on display before closing. When I got there and entered the building I soon changed my mind. It was absolutely crowded, and waiting in line for more than an hour to enter didn't fit in with my (lack of) patience that day.
Have you ever tried to act as a Bond-like secret spy? I was very eager to get some night photos, and set out to do so. Walking around, trying to keep it clandestine, and yet having a big camera as my main subject when doing so at 1 am? Imagine what Athens were like in these days with demonstrations and security alerts... I made careful plans, had a walk through the area during the daytime to see what it was like and to find out how much time I needed for getting around. My strategy would be that I first approached the Evzones outside the Parliament taking photos, if anyone asked why I was doing this after midnight my explanation would be that I liked to have some night photos of them, and that I also did my own training on nights photos with my new camera. By doing the Parliament first I guessed it would be told further on to those at the Presidential residence, then not making my appearance there so suspicious.
I had barely taken a few photos when the square, which was totally empty except for the Evzones, their supervisor and me, had several police men approaching. They stopped me, asked what I was doing and asked for my ID. I didn't carry one- my passport was in the hotel, and all I kept with me was some money, my photo gear and the keys to my room... After the police had chatted for a little while between themselves they gave me a reprimand, told me to always carry an ID and let me go when I showed them my hotel key...
Approaching the Presidential residence I saw there were a couple of military persons doing extensive training of the Evzones being on duty. I asked one of them if it was possible to do some photos, and was told I was very welcome as long as I didn't disturb their training and kept outside a white line in the pavement. I had some photos of those who were on duty and of the supervisor and trainer performing, before sitting down for a rest on the opposite side of the street. The trainer then came over to see me, sat down and told me all about the Evzones, their training and qualifying procedures (they were originally 130 and appr. 55 would be approved as Evzones), and he also revealed all the secrets of how they communicate and synchronise their movements. A very interesting chat, and I was fully approved to be around. Having taken many photos already of different Evzones and their procedures, I was advised to stay on for a while to see the changing of the guard. They were delayed for quite some time because of the training issues going on with those Evzones already there, so I could stay on the trainer's recommendations. A little while before the others were about to arrive a senior officer came along and asked me not to use the flash, it was disturbing for the Evzones, and the training efforts they were doing... Of course I just had to obey, but it meant a poorer quality for the remaining photos.
At long last, appr. 1:45 am, the changing of the guard was on. Some very formal Evzones were marching down the street. They looked very determined when passing me, they crossed the street and the procedures were on. It all went according to their orders and the procedures, and they were on duty. When I was about to leave the trainer and the supervisor both came along and asked if I could take their photo as well, which I did.
The day before my departure I got a nice invitation from a friend to go on a trip along the Attica coast. We set off early from a metro station close to where she lives, and headed for Paleo Faliro and the main road along the coast. First stop was Averof, where we saw the old war ship and the reconstructed trireme, very interesting.
Then we went on to Vouliagmeni, where she showed me a small lake with volcanic heating, making it usable at all times of year. Then further on to Varkiza, where we stopped for a coffee at Alkyonides before returning towards Athens.
When we approached the Faliro area, my friend stopped and told me we were at the Phaleron War Memorial Cemetery. It was very moving. It is made in the honour of those allied who fought in Greece, and who died there on the battlefields without getting a grave with their name, offering their ultimate sacrifice for freedom. Crosses with their names, country and age have been erected in a large field, together with monuments with the names of the forces participating and their nations engraved. It is a place you approach in silence, and it made a deeply felt impression.
When I returned to the city the announced taxi strike was on, and I went to the top of Syntagma to see what it was like. No riots, only many people gathered, some in their cars blowing their horns, others with megaphones calling out slogans. Riot police were there but they kept back in a small force, apparently just standing there enjoying the scene.
The taxi strike coincided with strikes on the metro and for the bus services, also taking in the next day, when my departure back home was due. My special taxi driver friend made a cover action to get me to the airport, using his private car, going the backstreets until we were out from the city and I was there in due time. When checking in, I was told that some volcano in Iceland had an eruption and ash clouds were interfering with European air traffic, but they reckoned I should be able to make it back home. The rest of my trip turned out to be neither from Athens nor from Greece, but an unintentional stay for two nights and nearly 3 days in Copenhagen, Denmark, before having a 10 hr bus ride back home to Oslo...
However, another great holiday in Greece!
Posted by erikht12 on
Category: Athens General
I love Greece. The contrasts from city to island, the contrasts between an island to another, the sceneries and the landscapes, the sea...
I love Greece. The cradle of democracy and the template of present day civilisation, the feeling of respect and humility by seeing major historical sites around every corner, the sense of being where some of the most important parts of our common history started, and the foundations of our communities of today were laid. Not to forget the cradle of science and art.
I love Greece and most of all the Greek people. Their ever present hospitality, their openness and including attitudes, their ever present aim to connect and to please. Not to forget their very special Greek peculiarities, which makes them true Greek in their own?
I have travelled Greece for the last 28 years. It all started with a girlfriend finally succeeding in making me accept "to go south" for a holiday, and we ended up on Rhodes on a package tour for two weeks. I suddenly realised I was in heaven.
History has always appealed to me, and here I experienced old temples and medieval towns, the sense of why a myth has come into life by watching the scenery and surroundings it was out of this world, all in one country. I also made friends with some locals, and one of them told me about the islands how easy it is to travel on your own and explore, how different they all are, how much to see and how many different people to meet.
Since then I have been every year mostly twice, and some years even three times. Up to three weeks at a time. I have been lucky enough to visit small islands populated by a few and been offered their most precious gift a glass of clean water upon arrival.
I have seen how these islands have developed, and I can understand that they all want to take part in earning a decent living however heartbreaking it is to see a small islet of the old days turned into a day excursion site for sun and bath lovers from the surrounding islands.
Most of all I have met people, and I have made friends. Greece is like a second home to me, and on many islands there are doors open to me, people welcoming me "back home" even when there has been years since my last visit in that specific area. It makes me feel very grateful, and in many ways it makes me feel to belong...
In this report I put emphasis on my experiences and the feelings I get when I am there. When I first came to Athens after travelling the islands for some 10-12 years I made my homework and had some ideas where to start and what to look for. I found out there is a central triangle to start with to learn the city centre the triangle of Syntagma, Thission and Omonia. I easily found the two main streets out of Syntagma Mitropolis and Ermou and made my way down these until I reached Monastiraki. Going further down Adrianou from Monastiraki I reached Thission, and all the time I had the Acropolis above with the Ancient Agora in front. It was all very stunning and made me pay deep respect.
Then I had Athinas to Omonia, and made my way back to Syntagma along the big avenue. This gave me an idea of distances and what to cover.
Every time I come to Athens I make this walk from Syntagma along Mitropolis to Monastiraki and Thission sensing being there, stopping at a corner to have a frappe and have a look at everyday life I'm in many ways back home. An alternate route is walking Mitropolis a short way from Syntagma to Volos str., turn left and walk up the hill to a small church, then turn right and I am in the heart of Plaka. Then follow Adrianou to Monastiraki.
Exploring major cities I visit requires to get out of the beaten tracks looking up places and neighbourhoods where people live and everyday life goes on, meeting locals and adapt to their ways to learn to know both the people and the country. Athens has been no exception to this. Of course I have done all the major sites not once, but many times and I still will do them from time to time there is always something new to discover. But I also turn my back on them and look in another direction at times.
Walking down the Ermou towards Thission there are lots of old houses and blocks which seems to be in a state of decay, with some dirty and dark narrow streets leading in behind. Small local shops in between, a filthy house with spindleback chairs of a small taverna. I walk in, have a meal in one of these tavernas and it is the genuine Greek food, hospitality end enjoyment far from the big crowds. The area next to Ermou, Psirri, has since my first visit done major renovation especially in connection with the 2004 Olympics and is now one of the major in-places in Athens. Still you can sense some of what it was like when you enter from the Thission end of the area and walk your way a couple of hundred meters in to reach the Psirri of today.
Likewise I have also strolled through the backstreets of Omonia, often advised not to approach, and I have found a living part of town like mentioned for the early Psirri and not met any problems at all.
This also means that I meet real people. I adapt, and many nice meals and evenings have been spent in company with locals. You learn their way, you learn and appreciate their way of life and their culture. I do not speak much Greek, but I have never had any problems in finding ways to communicate when visiting these areas or even when visiting other parts of the country and the islands. People show you genuine interest questions may seem very personal at times, but I have learned that this is not because they are curious they just like to get to know you to show you their hospitality in the best way possible.
Take the piece of bread offered you, have a bite when they get another plate for you to share their meal that is when you learn to know Athens and Greece.
The main attitude I try my best to keep always is like these words which greets any visitor when arriving in Patmos: "Welcome to Patmos. Enjoy its beauty Respect our traditions."
I recommend everyone to spend adequate time in Athens not only to scratch the surface by seeing the top attractions, but to get down to learn to know the people and the places.
That is when Athens shows to be something else than what the day excursion tourists see on their 8 hour visit, or what Athens is more than the top 5 attractions to those who are travelling through on a transfer.
Posted by beyatall87 on
Category: Athens General
I have been living in Athens for the past three years now. As a historian, it was a dream for me to come in this cultural town. Initially, I had plans to stay for a few months just to visit the archaeological monuments and basically broaden my horizons. By the first year I had visited many historical places, however a job came up so I decided to stay a bit longer.
I must say that Athens is a beautiful city visited by thousands of people every year. In the downtown where I live, there are a lot of places such as cafeterias, bars, luxury restaurants and the best traditional taverns anyone could find here. On some mornings, I spend a couple of hours in the National Gardens, a huge area full with vast vegetation with plants over the world.
A favourite visit is also to Plaka, a historian district, with many shops and great food. During the night, the monuments in Plaka are lighten up and it is magical. Unfortunately, there are some areas where you shouldn't go (especially the late hours) due to the crime rate. Include Omonoia and Metaxourgeio in these places. It is surprising though that most tourists stay in these squares, probably it is because hotels have good offers, but certainly I wouldn't recommend them to tourists.
Posted by tweetty on
Category: Athens General
This was my first trip to Athens. I was on official work, but decided to stay the week end and see something of this ancient city with the glorious past. I took the metro to the Acropolis, one of the most magnificent archaeological monuments in Europe which never fails to evoke feelings of admiration. The ancient monument was built in the 5th century B.C and it is an enduring symbol of Greek culture and civilization. I wandered along Syntagma Square and the heart of Athens was equally impressive with its imposing government buildings and the Parliament.
A walk around the historic triangle of Monastiraki, Thission and Plaka is not to be missed. Old mansions intermingling with modern department stores, little shops, stylish restaurants and traditional taverns reflect the coexistence of different eras in this city. The best part of Athens Metro is: it has made Athens a pedestrian-friendly city. But Athens is much more than an ancient city. There are islands, beaches and towns of the mainland. Perhaps, on my next visit, I shall take daytrips to see more of Athens.
After sunset, Athens rocks. I found an astounding number of options when it came to Athens after dinner. Techno clubs with giant outdoor and indoor discos, concerts spinning out everything from blues-rock-jazz to traditional Rembetika or laika makes the city after sunset. I was so confused with the choices! Most important, I was travelling along and felt safe! Except for the ill-famous squares of Omonoia and Monastiraki at night, all other places were much safer than all cities I have visited!
Posted by samer43gt on
Category: Athens General
An international conference brought me to Athens in the middle of the winter. I had been to Athens twice before but I was always in the hurry to get a ferry to the islands, so didn't usually spend more than to days in the city. But this time, the cold winter had trapped me inside the walls and I could see the sea only from a long distance, from the top of the Acropolis or seating for coffee in Piraeus.
The good thing is that finally I got the chance to actually SEE the city. The noisy, polluted, full-of-begars Athens. The Acropolis, the Ancient Agora, the ancient cemetery of Keramikos, the Archaeological Museum, the Parliament, the Temple of Zeus. The lovely cafeterias in Marina Zeas Piraeus, the large shopping centre in The Mall, the open market in Monastiraki, the hill of Lycabetus.
Take the metro, step in every station in the centre and you will have seen all that you need to see. Athens is actually a small city for a tourist because all attractions are gathered in the city centre, everything is a short walk from the other. Fortunately, the weather was good for walking. Mid-February and the sun was shining. Does it ever rain in Greece? Don't ask about food, souvlaki is the best! Plaka and Monastiraki have plenty of souvlaki taverns.
Posted by 123ytre on
Category: Athens General
To me Athens has just been an important city in Greece from my history classes at school. In fact, I somehow had the impression that it would be a rather solemn place filled with museums and ruins of a glorious past. But after travelling around the ancient city state for a few days, I realized that a trip to Greece would have been incomplete without a trip to this great city.
Athens today is as much for the history buffs, as for the modern travelers who are looking for fun and excitement. Thanks to the 2004 summer Olympics, the city now boasts the best of everything. It has an underground railway, tram to the southern seaside towns along the coast, good buses.
All the historical landmarks of the city are unified with pedestrian walkways, streets and parks. It was great to walk the pedestrian street from Acropolis to Thissio and to climb up to Philopappos Hill with the impressive monument. We visited the Acropolis Museum and the Archaeological Museum. Nice places, could be better organized and labelled in English, but it is a shame that most museums in Athens are open only in the morning.
The red sightseeing bus is very convenient and passes through all importand sites. The Roman stadium made all of marble was also very impressive. Our hotel was just opposite and from the balcony we could see it with lights at night. Although the city has not many things to do apart from sightseeing, it is worth to visit even for a couple of days. It is a pity to come to Greece and miss Athens.
Posted by nikolang on
Category: Athens General
As most tourists, we stayed only for a couple of nights in Athens before we went to the islands. I suggest you to stay at least one more night because there are so many things to do and to see that you always have to be in a hurry to have time for all, which ends up very tiring and stressful, and for me this is not vacations! Vacations should be relaxing, not exhausting. Anyway, the good thing about Athens is that most things you need to do is around the town centre, so jut have relaxed feet and comfortable trainers for walking!
The Acropolis is surely a must and probably the most impressive site in the city. All this elegancy will amaze you, be sure of this! I was mostly amazed with the details of the statues and the temples. How could they be so punctual when they were actually working marble?
The new Acropolis Museum is just opposite the site. The idea to built it on top of an archaeological site and to use the glass on the floor was truly brilliant, but the organization inside was poor. Labels were only in Greek and English and in most cases, we couldn't understand both of them. Couldn't there be an audio system in many languages to explain visitors what they see? I have seen this system in many museums of the world, why not in such an important place?
The rest of the sites in Athens are found around the Acropolis. On one side, there is the temple of Zeus and the Arch of Hadrian and a bit further Zappeio and the impressive Panathenaic Stadium. On the other side, there is Thissio with the beautiful cafes and Monastiraki with the Ancient Agora. The temple of Hephaestus in Agora was equally impressive with the Acropolis, maybe because of the size. It must be the best preserved ancient temple in Greece and I was surprised that I hadn't known of it before. You should really advertise more monuments like these!
Plaka and Monastiraki are the places to be in the afternoon. Days can be exhausting in Athens with so much walking under the sun and you will surely get a headache from the car noise and the horns. Why people in Greece are so obsessed with horns? But Plaka and Monastiraki are two quiet places to be. Roads are paved and cars are not allowed to enter, so at least you save yourselves from this trouble. You can walk around and around and surprisingly you don't get lost. Every road will have something new to see but all will lead you to a familiar place: a metro station, a square or the road you passed before. In Plaka, there are some small places to eat. I like those places better than the kebab-venues outside the station of Monastiraki. Food was better in Plaka, I think.
The second day we took the tour to Sounio, a cape in the south with the temple of Poseidon on it. Yes, the temples was impressive, but the view was out of belief, almost equal to the view of the volcano in Santorini. I could almost get dizzy from all this blue sea. Next summer we will book a tour in Delphi or Mycenae. It is an easy and trouble-free way to see places. If we have more time, we might rent a car and drive in the mainland a bit. We have seen so many Greek islands, but almost no mainland at all.
Posted by luca29 on
Category: Athens General
This time in Athens, we stayed in Plaka in a small family hotel. The entire neighbourhood is very charming and picturesque. The historical buildings and monuments tell us about the past of the town, All the houses here have beautiful architecture and the flower pots that the locals keep on their verandas are too unique. It was bizarre how the atmosphere changed a few blocks further with the busy streets of Syntagma and Monastiraki. But in the centre of Plaka, everything seemed quiet and nice, almost only tourists walked there.
The underground fortunately was close because it is very difficult to move in Athens with buses and taxis. Buses are always packed and taxis rarely take the ride if you are the only passenger and stop to take other passengers on the way. This is very irritating and can result in extra charge, so be careful with taxis.
As I have been to Athens a couple of times before, I can tell you that this is a nice town if you like history or nightlife. I had seen all ancient monuments, except for the Acropolis Museum which opened a few months ago and the temple of Poseidon in Sounio. We rented a car to go to Sounio so that we can stop at the coastal towns, like Vouliagmeni for a coffee and Lavrio for lunch.
Posted by laurrench on
Category: Athens General
The trip to Athens was amazing for our entire family. Most of my friends do not like Athens, but I do! The city is bustling with tourists, immigrants and local people and seems so alive. The shopping zones are the most crowded areas. We stayed at a apartment at Monastiraki. It is a charming place and there are lots of traditional style buildings. For enthusiastic shopaholics, a visit to the Sunday flea market is advised as there are plenty of things to buy in a very affordable price. There are also many spice shops in the vicinity that sells aromatic spices used for cooking Greek dishes.
Over a cup of coffee at a local cafeteria, we got an opportunity to interact with some Greek people. They seemed friendly and warm. Through signs and broken English, they pointed a couple of places for us to visit. My children really enjoyed the tour of the Attica Zoological Park. It is well maintained and has neat surroundings. For us adults, the romantic sunset at Sounion was extraordinary. The surrounding landscape filled with orange and golden hues of the setting sun was picturesque. I also liked the Acropolis Museum, although my kids got boring with all those antiquities, but you expect that from kids, don't you?
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