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#1 Wally

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 12:18 AM

I’ve just bought plane tickets to Athens for mid March.

Even though there were non low-budhget airlines to Crete <_< I’m very, very excited.


Reading Julie’s posts on ‘Containerharbour In Timbaki’ forum, decided to start new one.

So Wim won’t blame me for not following the discussion topic :P


Kind request to all of you who lives/visited Athens.
  • What would you recommend to somebody who goes first time?
  • Where to stay?
  • What is worth of seeing/visiting?
  • Maybe some trips out of Athens?


Almost forgot - will stay for four days so hope to see as many as we can B)

Will appreciate any suggestions.

Thanks,
W

#2 Assim

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 10:30 AM

As you only have 4 days I would recommend the Athens site seeing bus . For €5 you can get on and off the bus whenever you like for a period of 24 hours. Its route takes in cultural landmarks and shopping areas, ranging from the Acropolis to the Athens Central Market and several museums.

Also I would pay a visit to Syntagma (means constitution) square where you can see the royal guards (kind of like the changing of the guards thing at Buckingham Palace, with pompoms). Also from here you can goto National Gardens where there are a few animals and a nice cafe away from the hustle of the city.

Athens is a great place if you are into history and culture. Loads of musuems and of course the Acropolis. Public transport is cheap €0.70 for a metro ticket and €0.50 for a bus to anywhere in the city. Food and coffee can be a little expensive in the tourist hotspots.

A good place to stay is the Great Western Musuem Hotel. Its near the Museum :P and there's one of the site seeing bus stops outside the museum. Also you would get to see the non touristicy bits of Athens from here. Its near Exarchiea square, which has a history of anarchism, some nice cafes/bars <_< and its right outside the polytechnic where the 1973 uprising was.

If your into Classical music or Opera you could spend a nice evening at Megaro Mousikis -Athens Music Hall

Or if you like rock music and are here on the 11/03/2007 then Iron Maiden are playing at terra vibe. There are also plenty of little tavernas in Athens that have rebetika on a friday or saturday night. Also a lot of blues bars, playing blues and rock. Its a lively city in the evenings B)

If you have anything you particularly like or want to do ask and I will try to be more specific in my help.

#3 Julie

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 12:25 PM

"What would you recommend to somebody who goes first time?"

The Acropolis and its museum. Wonderful views over the city from the belvedere. From there you can descend by wandering paths through green slopes - in Spring full of flowers - to the Agora, which also has a museum worth seeing.

The Kerameikos - the ancient cemetery of Athens, an evocative site to explore, with huge sections of the Themistoklean fortification wall (and another worthwhile museum).

The Central Market, on Athinas Street, a lively, bustling hive of activity, especially early in the morning.

A meandering stroll through Plaka, the "old city" (which used to be the whole city) to appreciate beautiful neoclassical houses, and a climb up to Anafiotika, where you will think you are on a Cycladic island. Athens isn't all concrete. Everywhere you go you will see good buildings that have escaped the developers: just look up.

I would say the National Archaeological Museum is a must, but it is huge and can be daunting. As you have only four days you may want to spend only an hour or two, in which case I would suggest the central hall on the ground floor, which contains the Mycenean finds, and as many of the sculpture rooms as you feel like seeing. Better to see and enjoy a few of these beautiful things in a leisurely way than to rush through everything.

Athens has many excellent museums. My favourites, after the Archaeological Museum, are the Benaki Museum, the Goulandris Museum of Cycladic Art, the Byzantine Museum, the Greek Folk Art Museum, and the Museum of Greek Musical Instruments. There are many others: it depends on your interests and the amount of time you want to spend in museums.

You could easily spend your whole four days in museums - or you could spend them equally happily just walking around and getting the feel of the city. Everywhere you go, there are nice places to sit down and rest and eat.



"Where to stay?"

Assim recommended the Great Western Museum Hotel in Exarchia, which is as he says an interesting area. I would also suggest you have a look at Matt Barrett's website (Google "Athens Guides" and it will be the first url to come up) which has plentiful and very good advice on hotels, restaurants, and absolutely everything else: sightseeing, drinking, night life, everything.



"What is worth of seeing/visiting?"

See above



Maybe some trips out of Athens?

I don't think you'll have time! But if you do, possibilities are a ferry to Aegina, the nearest island (takes about an hour, I believe), a bus trip down the coast to Sounion, a ride on the coastal tram, a bus ride to Kessariani (beautiful monastery on the slopes of Mt Hymettus). If you do the bus or tram trips, Sunday morning is the best time - no traffic.

Have a good time. I am sure you will want to return.

#4 Tim

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 12:44 PM

You will need to eat during your stay and, although I don't usually like the tourist traps, I think the Plaka is an essential experience in Athens. Here you will be approached by countless taverna staff inviting you to partake of their mother's special dishes. They can be intimidating if you but if you join in the spirit of it you can have a great time. Don't be afraid to look at their menus, perhaps say something like you are looking for a place to come with friends later. There are some good eating places there even though better may be found in other parts. (look for locals eating)
When I first visited Athens in the 70's I remember a bit of an 'argument between two taverna guys arguing their respective case for my custom. I chose one and had a great meal and time watching the entertainment. The next night I was back in the same area and the guy whose place I had eaten at, openly suggested that his opposition was also a very good taverna and well worth eating at (maybe I hadn't tipped enough!). The message is (was- hope still is) that the banter is all good hearted and should be part of the experience. Now and again it can be fun just doing the tourist thing.

#5 Julie

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Posted 28 January 2007 - 07:43 PM

Hi Tim

You and I have agreed about most things over these many years, but on eating in the Plaka I don't agree with you - or at least I agree only partly. I certainly agree that it is an Experience, as you say, but in most of the Plaka restaurants that cater mainly for tourists Wally would be likely to get an indifferent meal. And it's not worth eating indifferent food in Athens when there is so much good food to be eaten.

There ARE good restaurants in Plaka, but you have to look for them, one or two are tiny and tucked away, and manage to operate without the hype and the kamakis, like the Paradosiako on the corner of Voulis and (sorry, the name escapes me and I haven't time to look it up). Matt Barrett's website gives good advice and if Wally is still around (hello Wally?) I would repeat my suggestion that he have a look at it.

On the whole, better food is to be had in Psyrri, not far away - and there are a couple of good traditional tavernas in Monastiraki.

Julie

#6 Wim

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Posted 29 January 2007 - 12:53 PM

Hi Wally,

I loved Athens, but you should stay there in the right season. Which you do :)
Hot time summer in the city, is the right song if you go there in the wrong one.

If you are into modern architecture you should visit the new subway stations
they are a real treat. Some of the stations are like a museum with the finds of the excavation, executed prior to the digging, are exhibited.

I loved the Agora and the Acropolis area. This hotel, overlooking both and where I usually stay when in Athens, is affordable and in the absolute right area. Far away from the touristic hassle and yet near to the things that count.

The other interesting things are easily found on the net, so why bother. A visit to Cape Sounion is very worthwhile.

Wim :)
True is that adage: "He who yields to rule by wooden heads, becomes himself a fool."

#7 Tim

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Posted 29 January 2007 - 02:27 PM

Julie
I think perhaps I should have made it more clear that you will likely compromising on the quality of your meal to gain the experience and I have been happy to do so on a couple of occcasions. I found several quite reasonable places - but yes there were many others that I would not bother with. The other point is really to play any outside staff at their own game, not to be afraid to see what they may have to offer without feeling obliged to partake. My wife gets a little embarassed at times at the attention I pay to other folks meals before I choose mine.
:-)
Tim

#8 santo

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Posted 29 January 2007 - 03:11 PM

I agree with you there Tim, both Linda and I have been known to also try a little piece of someones meal before deciding what we are having. :) :)
Santo

It's not the number of breaths you take, it's the moments that take your breath away.

#9 Wim

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Posted 29 January 2007 - 05:53 PM

What's the foodstuff got to do with Wally's trip to Athens :) Did he ask for a dinner advise? :D
Part of the adventure is to go for it and find out Wally. Have yourself an adventure, also in the kitchen, and fall in love with the unexpected. Actually the kitchen of a country is part of the culture.
I remember my first kalamarakia yemista (stuffed squid) I ate in Piraeus in one of the backstreets. It looked like a sausage with fingers but it was great.

Am not sure about locusts though, but they say its healthy and tastes like huge shrimps :)

Wim :P Omnivorous
True is that adage: "He who yields to rule by wooden heads, becomes himself a fool."

#10 Dinny

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Posted 29 January 2007 - 10:35 PM

Oh Wim!!!! :)

When you've got only 4 days, there is no room for making mistakes. Thus, good advise on anything is a treasure!

#11 Assim

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Posted 30 January 2007 - 08:56 AM

Food is a big part of the Greek culture. You may goto museums, archaeological sites etc. But to experience Greece fully you should indulge in the cuisine too. Beside we all need to eat :) Thats what a trip to Athens has to do with food :)

#12 SuzyCreamcheese

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Posted 30 January 2007 - 03:58 PM

only been to Athens once, also for 4 days. I chose for the 'classical things' : Acropolis, Plaka, Syntagma, Monastiraki, Pireaus and the 'Evzones' (not too keen on the army but this was a very impressive thing to me). I enjoyed it very much and since it was my first visit I decided I 'had to see these things'. :)
time isn't money, it's precious !

#13 Wally

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Posted 30 January 2007 - 07:22 PM

Dear All, thanks for your kind advices.

There is so much to see in Athens!

For last few days we’ve been working on our schedule, trying to fit your tips and other ‘must’ items from book and internet guides. It is not easy :) :)

This will be our first visit to Athens but it became obviously to us, it is not the last one :P


So far, I’ve one more question.

What do you think of renting a car and having one day trip to Korinthos and Mykines?

I would love to see those places…


Again, thanks for all tips and advices.

#14 Tim

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Posted 30 January 2007 - 08:57 PM

Not sure if you will have the time for all that you want, but I did squeeze in a trip to Corinth on my first trip, to New Corinth, Old Corinth, and Agrocorinth as I recall. Went by train.Years later went through Corinth by train to Kalamata and further south - awful slow, hard on the backside journey!

#15 Julie

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 11:01 AM

Wally, I don't think you'll have time either, but even if you do I wouldn't advise hiring a car and driving in Athens. It's better than it was, since public transport has improved so much, but if you have never driven in Athens, well, let's just say you might not enjoy the experience.

I think it would be better for you to investigate tours that include Corinth and Mycenae. I don't think it would cost you more (probably less, though I can't be sure) than hiring a car for a day, and getting you there and back would be the responsibility of the travel agent. Fantasy Travel in Athens are good - try them.

Suzy, of COURSE you had to see the Acropolis, etc. I have never been able to understand the superior, dismissive attitude people take about the great archaeological and architectural monuments in Athens (or anywhere else) because they have justly become major tourist attractions. Would you avoid seeing Venice, or the Grand Canyon, or the pyramids, because they've become "screensavers"?

Assim and Wim and Tim, yes, food is a vital part of a visit to Athens, and so much of it is so good that (sorry, Tim!) I don't think I would ever want to forego a smidgin of quality in favour of the Plaka experience. I really don't enjoy being wheedled at by the paid people-grabbers (though that distaste may be a female thing, as I think we once discussed: men are probably better at joining the banter). Give me the experience of eating, unpestered, in a traditional neighbourhood taverna or mezedopoleion any day.

Wally, if you like lamb chops, there is a great place in Thissio, To Stekia tou Ilia, that serves only lamb chops (and salad). But what lamb chops. Have a wonderful time in Athens and come back and tell us all about it.

#16 Wally

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Posted 17 April 2007 - 09:28 PM

One more time thanks for all your tips.

As a kind of pay-back, I can share with some of our pictures.

You can find it here: www.kaczorki.pl/2007/03Ateny/index.html

#17 Assim

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Posted 17 April 2007 - 09:55 PM

Nice pictures Wally

Thank you for sharing them with us

#18 Kritsa Yvonne

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Posted 18 April 2007 - 10:05 PM

Good to "see" you again Wally - I really must get to Athens sometime.
Kritsa Yvonne

#19 Wim

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Posted 18 April 2007 - 10:50 PM

Have you been by now, Yv?

:(
True is that adage: "He who yields to rule by wooden heads, becomes himself a fool."