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voyager Athens - A travel report by Mick
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Athens,  Greece - flag Greece -  Attikí
2175 readers

voyager's travel reports

Agean Adventure

  8 votes

Athens is a huge bustling metropolis choked with traffic and some of the most polluted air to be found anywhere. In fact, the traffic and the air are so bad that the local authorities have instituted an odd and even driving program where cars with even numbered registrations are allowed to drive on even numbered days and vice-versa for the odd numbers. Even with the air quality problems, Athens is a fantastic city. Everywhere you look you find bits and pieces of the ancient civilization that has been the foundation of so many other civilizations. On the surface, Athens is not a particularly friendly city but once you venture off into the various neighborhoods that changes quickly.

Favourite spots:
Without question, Plakka (the old town) is my favorite section of the city. It’s a beehive of narrow streets filled with shops, restaurants and bars. Most of Plakka is pretty much geared for tourists but locals enjoy the area as well.

What's really great:
The Greek people love to enjoy life. They love to get together for most any occasion to eat, drink, sing and dance. Most Greek music is up-tempo and festive and seems to go best with an ample supply of ouzo. For the uninitiated, ouzo is the licorice flavored “white lightning” that is considered by most as the national beverage of Greece. Greece is also the home of retsina. Retsina is a local wine that is flavored with pine tar. I’m told that this dates back to the early Greeks who sold wine throughout the Mediterranean. As they shipped it in clay jars, the sloshing motion would soften the clay and often the jars would collapse. They discovered that by “lining” the jars with pine tar they would endure the journey. The side effect was that some of the pine tar taste would leech into the wine. After only a few centuries, they acquired a taste for retsina that some still enjoy.

Sights:
The first sight for any tourist must be the Acropolis. It is an imposing sight that can be seen from most anywhere in the city. Other major sights include the agora (old market), the Olympic stadium and Syntagma Square (Parlaiment). There are so many ancient artifacts throughout the city that you could spend a lifetime there and never see them all. Acid rain has taken its toll on some of the ancient structures in recent years. There are major efforts underway to try to reduce the problem and to preserve these artifacts for future generations.

Accommodations:
There’s an abundance of small hotels throughout the city. They are generally priced reasonably in the off season but prices can skyrocket during peak holiday season. Hotels in the Plakka district offer easy pedestrian access to the most enjoyable parts of the city. Parking is an absolute nightmare most anywhere in Athens.

Nightlife:
No specific recommendations however there are dozens of nice clubs throughout the city. There is a concentration of clubs in the Plakka district, many of which offer “traditional” Greek entertainment and food.

Hangouts:
One of my favorite memories of Athens is the abundance of neighborhood bars. I really enjoyed sitting and talking with the locals and getting some exposure to the non-touristic side of Athens. The people were warm, friendly, generous and most of all, proud of their heritage

Restaurants:
There is no shortage of good restaurants in Athens. Many of the restaurants have live music and some have folk dancing. Lamb and seafood dominate Greek menus. While I’m sure there are some bad restaurants there, I never was unfortunate enough to visit one.

Other recommendations:
There are more ancient sights to visit in Athens than almost anywhere else in the world. The nearby port of Pireaus is the jumping off spot for ferries to the Greek Isles and the rest of the Agean.

Published on Monday August 19th, 2002


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