Two Days in the Life of an Athenian



Description:

Every book on Athens will advise you about the historic landmarks such as the Acropolis, the ancient Agora, etc, but Athens is unique as a city because it is a modern city living amidst its own history.

This tour concentrates on the streets, the people, how they work, eat, play and live. A breathing museum.

user rating

Author: Paige


Schinias Beach at Marathon

user rating

Location:

Schinias
190 07 Marathon, Greece

Contact:

tel: 30 229 405 5950
visit website


Vrahon Theater Melina Merkouri

Location:

Vyronas District
Athens, Greece

Contact:

tel: +30 210 322 3111(Tourist Information)


Day 1 - Athens


Start in the heart of it all, the city’s largest, most active square, Syntagma. All of the major metrolines come here and many of the city’s buses. The busy metro station is also home to all of the artifacts they dug up in the meanwhile, making for a most interesting transit. Music from Greek composers keeps the atmosphere cool and calm and as a result of heavy patrolling, the station is clean and quite safe. Linger, poke, then move up the escalator for your first view on the square.



The Grand Bretagne is the fine looking hotel on the right. It’s the most beautiful hotel of Athens. The doorman nor the sleeping dogs on the steps nor the lines of limos and VIP cars will mind if you just poke your head in and admire its elegance. If you’re very daring, take the escalator to the 7th floor to get the view of the Acropolis from the roof garden. If you’re not daring, don’t worry. The view of the Acropolis can be had all over the city.



Syntagma Square is where any political demonstration and many municipal events take place. There’s a good chance you’ll get to see Greeks in action if you arrive in the mornings on the weekdays.



Next cross Amelias Avenue (after Queen Amelia) to the massive yellow building, the country’s Parliament. In front you’ll see two small white houses with guards in skirts posted outside. These are Evzones and the pride of the country, so please refrain from referring to their outfits as skirts and call them fustanellas, the uniform of the patriotic fighter. They are guarding the symbolic tomb of the unknown soldier and will do a grand “changing of the guard” every hour, except in heavy rain. Go there at 3:00 AM, there will be a change ceremony.



Meander on to the right and through the walls of the National Gardens. Feel free to explore but keep heading to the right until you see Zappeion (another large, yellowish building) and turn right down the sidewalk again. If you’re lucky you’ll see the groups of oldtimers who congregate here daily to play chess, sometimes ten to fifteen of them positioned on the benches, boards on tv trays, deep in concentration. It’s quite common to walk over and watch a game in action.



You’ll continue heading down Vassilis Olgas (Queen Olga) Ave until you reach Amalias again. Cross and keep going straight. You’re now in Plaka.



Go straight up Goura street and you’ll see the Lysicrates monument, a large, columnar structre, standing in a dirt road. This is the oldest road of the city, which in turn is one of the oldest cities of the world, so take a detour and put your footprints on it.



This area is home to several cafes and tourist shops, but we’re not focused on that just now. Go toward the back of the square with the monument and you’ll find steps that start leading you up. Do so. Keep going up, and up, and up, until you find yourself amidst a stark change of architecture. The houses before you are now white and more like those of the island. You’re now in Anafiotika, a little island dwelling in the middle of the city.

Go to the right and then wander further up the narrow little paths of stairs to feel like you’re lost in a Grecian wonderland. People are living in these houses but they’re used to tourists and will automatically direct you to the Acropolis, regardless of where you’re going. When you’re ready, head back down and turn to the right following the signs for the church of the Metamorphosis.



When you see two brown doors a stone wall, you’re facing the Metochion of Panagios Taphos in Plaka (Monastery of the Holy Sepulchre, 18 Erechtheos St.) It is the church which first receives the Holy Light from Jerusalem. Athenians welcome the Holy Light at the Athens Airport at about 8 pm on Holy Saturday. Then it is passed on to the representatives of every metropolitan bishop of the country, which then fly back to their respective cities carrying the Holy Light with them.



Continue the descent, heading to the right (take Kristiou and Flessa streets) until you reach Adrianou. This is souvenir central, but there are some nice shops mixed in with the junk. Head right until you reach 41 Kidathneion street. You’ll see a little shop with backlit walls of colorful bottles. This is “Brettos,” a distillery that has been operating since 1909 and offers 38 flavors of home brewed ouzo (try Mastica and rose for something really unique) and three kinds of brandy. #3, #5, and #7, all referring to the number of years aged. This is a nice place to try if it’s getting to be dinnerish time and you would like an aperitiv, or just keep it in the back of your mind for later.



Continue left on Kidathineion Street (toward Filelinon on the map) and turn left ontoVoulis Street. With all of this walking, it’s surely time to load up on some good Greek food. On the left, (cross street Nikidimou) you will likely notice some tables on the sidewalk and a lot of people standing around (as all of the tables are stuffed with people.) This is because you’ve reached Paradosiako, a small humble taverna that has been written up in every guidebook thanks to its high standard of quality and reasonable prices. Early hours are usually filled with tourists, but in “Greek” hours of mealtimes (very late by western standards) you will find the tables equally full of locals. Try their grilled sardines and eggplant salad.



A good Greek meal can last anywhere from two to four hours. When you’re ready you will need to flag the waiter as they’re not used to checking in on you. Continue left on Voulis Street, but not before checking into the little sculpture shop on the left of the taverna and the wine shop on the right, where you can buy some quality things from Greece. A little further down, same side of the street, you’ll see showcased in a basement window handcrafted jewelry. This is also worth looking into as you will not find anything like it, anywhere else. Each piece is unique.



You will eventually come to Mitropoleos, the word for “Cathedral.” If you take a left here it will lead you to the National Cathedral and then to Monistiraki. Take a right and you will end up again at Syntagma Square.



1

GB Roof Garden

Location:

Constitution Square
Hotel Grande Bretagne
10564 Athens, Greece

Contact:

tel: +30 210 333 0766 / +30 210 333 0000
fax: +30 210 322 8034
visit website


2

Hotel Grande Bretagne

Location:

Vassileos Georgiou A 1 Street
Syntagma Sq
10563 Athens, Greece

Contact:

tel: 30 210 333 0000
fax: +30 210 322 8034
visit website


3

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

user rating

Location:

Amalias Street and Syntagma Square
Syntagma
106 71 Athens, Greece

Contact:

tel: 171 Tourist information


4

Parliament Building

user rating

Location:

2 Vasilissis Sophias (opposite Syntagma Square)
10671 Athens, Greece

Contact:

tel: +30 210 331 0392 (Tourist information) or 171 (Tourist Police)
visit website


5

Archaeological Exhibits at the Syntagma Metro Station

user rating

Location:

Syntagma Square
105 63 Athens, Greece

Contact:

tel: +30 210 331 0392 (Tourist Information)
visit website


6

Aereopagos Hill

Location:

The Acropolis
Athens, Greece


8

Anafiotika

user rating

Location:

Prytaneiou & Erechtheos
(Plaka)
105 58 Athens, Greece

Contact:

tel: +30 210 331 0392 (Tourist information)


9

Brettos

user rating

expert pick

Location:

41 Kydathineon
Athens, Greece

Contact:

tel: +30 210 32 32 110
visit website


10

Oinoscent Wine Shop

user rating

Location:

Voulis 44
, Greece

Contact:

tel: 210 3229374
visit website


11

Paradosiako

user rating

Location:

44A Voulis
The Plaka
Athens, Greece

Contact:

tel: 210/321-4121


12

Metropolis Greek Orthodox Cathedral

Location:

Mitropoleos Square
105 56 Athens, Greece

Contact:

tel: +30 210 331 0392 (Tourist Information)


Day 2 - Athens, Vouliagmeni


This day is going to take you downtown and toward the coastal suburbs for a completely different feel.

Starting again at Syntagma, go straight back to where the pedestrian shopping street of Ermou spreads out before you. Walk down until you reach Voulis and take a right. You’re going to have breakfast at the best bakery for tiropita (cheese pie) in the city of Athens, called Ariston’s. The traditional cheese pies are in the back of the shop in their own case, but they have a large variety of fillings including mushroom, leek, chicken, pumpkin, and eggplant. You can do as the Athenians do and just eat it directly outside of the small shop or take it to the end of Voulis where you’re emptied into Kolokotronis Square. There are benches here and it’s pleasant to sit in front of the old Parliament building (now a National History museum) and enjoy your snack. Take Stadiou Street (the other side of Filelinon) to the left and you’ll reach a large square with a fountain, some neoclassical buildings and a hoarde of pigeons. This is Klathmonous Square. The headquarters for the National Bank of Greece are the two buildings making the L shape on the far right. Head back there and you’ll catch up Evripidou Street. Take it all the way to Athinas where you will find the heart of downtown Athens, the Central market. This is an excellent place to drink in the more oriental flavor of Athens left over from the Ottoman occupation, lasting four hundred years. It is also a good place to stock up on fresh and dried fruit, cheese, bread and nuts if you wish to do more of a picnic style lunch than a sit-down ordeal. There are also several traditional "Cafeneios" where you can enjoy a coffee, a truly Greek in-activity. They're known to "enjoy" theirs for an hour or more.



Take a left down Athinas street, past the miscellaneous shops selling rubber boots, used cds, wooden ships and old fashioned kitchen utensils until you’ve again reached Ermou street. Facing you is a view on the Acropolis and a beautiful square, Monistiraki square or “Little Monastery” with a small, Byzantine church, Pantanassa, Church of the All holy mother of God and Mistress of the Universe “The Great Monastery” originally built in 10th century but the present one dates back to 1678. Most of it destroyed during excavations in the 1800s and the building of the Kifissias/Piraeus train line in 1896. Further back you see a yellow building. This is the train station where you will descend and take the Kifissias/Piraeus train toward Piraeus. (Look at the sign before going down the stairs to see which stops are in gray and which are in color to be certain you’re going the right direction.)



Take it six stops until the N. Faliro station where you will come out at the Karaiskaki Stadium, home to the much beloved Piraeus football club, Olympiakos. There are gift shops and some information on the history of the team, formed in the 1920’s, if you wish to bring back a little of the “red and white” with you. If you’re in Athens during football season, going to an Olympikos game is maybe an investment (tickets are around 20-30 euros depending on seating and the matc) but worth it for the experience, the fervor, the clouds of red smoke from fireworks after a score that can become so thick the game has to stop until it clears. And if they win? There’s not one heartbeat that won’t get caught up in the excitement.



Now is the tricky maneuvering over to the Faliro Olympic complex and Flisvos Park. It involves crossing busy Syngrou Avenue, but the good people of the underground have made a marvelous tunnel just for your safety. Follow the signs that say "to Tram" and you'll go all the way to the other side, coming up in front of the Basketball Stadium.



The Faliro complex was all built for the 2004 Olympic Games and now is a haven for Athenians who are interested in boating and outdoor sports. In the cool hours of the afternoon you’ll see people strolling, jogging, biking, gypsies hanging their laundry, young seascouts manning their sunfish in the marina... a very dynamic area. The dark, modern looking stadium was used as the Tae Kwon Do center for the Olympic Games and now is used for various conventions and exhibitions. Further up is the Village with a modern movie theater, cafes and a good souvlaki place called “Pita Pallais.”

Walk down by the marina and you’ll see three battleships looming. Of these, the most notable is the Averoff battleship, the flagship of the Royal Hellenic Navy, a floating museum and a very significant ship to Modern Greek history. It also marks the area of Flisvos park where there is an active nightlife with cafes, high end shops and restaurants, and a charming outdoor cinema. Movies show twice an evening, usually around 8 and 10. Continue walking down the large pedestrian walkway that lines the Aegean coast. It’s beautiful at sunset. There are several places you can jump down and dive into the water for a refreshing swim, or go into a private beach for something a little more formal with umbrellas, changing rooms and snack stands.



Catch the seaside tram to Voula, the last stop. From there take a taxi to Vouliagmeni Lake.

Or take the bus,E22, toward Saronida. Vouliameni is the neighborhood just after Voula. There are about 20 stops in between Flisvos and Vouliagmeni, but Greek bus drivers are actually quite helpful so tell him you’re trying to go to the “Vouliagmeni Paralia” (Vouliagmeni beach) which is directly across from the lake so he can help you know where to get off.



Relax in the healing waters of this unusual thermal spring. It is 50 centimeters above water and acts as a year round spa. Go back across the road to the swanky beach cafes and restaurants of Vouliagmeni to end your day.



Return to the Voula tram stop using the same buses or via taxi and it will take you all the way back to Syntagma Square. If you choose, you can take the buses which will drop you at Acadamias Street, near the Omonia Metro station which will also take you back to Syntagma.


1

Athinas Street Market

Location:

Athinas 42
, Greece


2

Ariston Bakery

user rating

expert pick

Location:

Voulis 10
Athens, Greece


4

Agios Kosmas Olympic Sailing Centre

user rating

Location:

Diadohou Pavlou
16675 Athens, Greece

Contact:

tel: +30 210 331 0561 (Tourist Information)


5

Faliro Coastal Zone Olympic Complex

user rating

Location:

Faliro Coastal Zone Olympic Complex
Athens, Greece

Contact:

tel: +30 210 870 7000


6

Zea Marina

expert pick

Location:

Freatida 185 04 - Piraeus
, Greece

Contact:

tel: +30 210 4559000


7

Karaiskaki Stadium

user rating

Location:

Karaoli Dimitriou - Sophianopoulou
Faliro
16675 Athens, Greece

Contact:

tel: +30 210 481 8440
visit website


8

Flisvos Park, marina and Outdoor Cinema

user rating

expert pick

Location:

Flisvos Park
17561, Paleo Faliro , Greece

Contact:

tel: 210-982-1256, 940-3595


9

Lake Vouliagmeni

user rating

Location:

Vouliagmenis Avenue
16671 Vouliagmeni, Greece

Contact:

tel: +30 210 896 2237-9
fax: +30 210 896 2351


© 2014 NileGuide.com   ·   Blog   ·   Facebook   ·   Contact Us   ·   About Us   ·   Privacy Policy   ·   Terms & Conditions