To the Cyclades

By , 22/07/2014 23:13

Ermoupoli

Part 3 of my Grand Tour of Greece takes me 144km (89m) to Syros: Capital of the Cyclades, and of the entire South Aegean region.

Getting here was very easy, but did need an early start. I checked out of my hotel in Athens at 6:50 this morning, and waited outside for my taxi. I had prebooked the taxi before leaving the UK – and it arrived right on time at 7. It took me straight down to Piraeus – the whole journey takes no more than 20 minutes, and costs €25. An advantage of taking a taxi was that I was driven right up to the ferry, so didn’t have to carry my cases too far.

220720142308For the journey out, I took the 08:05 Hellenic Seaways service, on the Nissos Mykonos boat. We left on time – and arrived on time in Ermoupoli, at 11:30 on the dot. My €30 ticket was an economy class ticket; I sat up on the sun deck, right at the top, and got breakfast from the café bar just below.

A tip for travellers with lots of luggage: You can leave your cases down below; there is storage space in the garages at the bottom – all marked according to destination. Alternatively, do what I did and take them on deck with you – but remember the escalators only go as far as reception…and they don’t go down!

Back to Galissas

For my brief stay in Syros, I am back in Galissas – the small village I stayed in last year. This time though I’m staying in a room at Peter & Tony Rooms. The ground floor is the village café bar, serving a range of drinks, snacks and ice creams. At a cost of €76 for two nights, this is the most expensive part of my trip, but definitely worth it.

Antonis met me at the port and took me to Galissas on his motorbike. He took my suitcase at the front, while I sat on the back, holding on to my hand luggage and bag of shopping in one hand and the motorbike with the other. I wore no helmet, of course – this is Greece: Health & Safety doesn’t really exist out here. Riding on a motorbike (even if just a small, not very powerful one) was slightly scary, but I survived – and secretly enjoyed it.

I was able to go straight in to my room – a double room with a private bathroom, there’s also a fridge, tea/coffee making facilities as well as a knife, fork and spoons – which is quite useful, because I can get lunch, or keep some juice and water in the fridge.

220720142298After getting settled in to my room I headed for the beach. Galissas Beach is probably the best beach on the island, but never too busy. It is a shame though that what last year was the quieter end now has a (small) beach bar and a some sunbeds. It’s not a massive amount of sunbeds, but it is enough to encourage a few more people to use that end of the beach, so it’s not as quiet as it was last year.

I also note that a couple of the local tavernas have closed since we were here last. It’s a shame to see places close like that in such a lovely little village, but I guess that is the effect of the financial crisis in Greece at the moment.

After lunch and a siesta in front of the afternoon’s news bulletin on NERIT TV, I got the bus in to Ermoupoli. Forget the €3,90 each way cost for the busses in Leivadia: here, it’s €1,60 each way. It was only a quick trip to Ermoupoli today, to go to the cashpoint and to get a top-up card for my Greek mobile (you can’t top up by debit card on the Greek networks).

For dinner tonight, I went to the mezepoleio Κάππαρη Σύρου, and had chicken fillet and chips – as well as bread and a dip, and a drink – cost €10,10.

Tomorrow, after breakfast I’ll have a morning swim; then I think I’ll head back in to Ermoupoli for a bit of shopping, and then back to Galissas for an evening swim. Tomorrow is effectively the “last day” on Syros I was meant to have last year, before the tour operator sent us back to Mykonos, 24 hours before out flight, with 12 hours notice.

I’m off to bed.

Good night.

FH.

Ermoupoli

By , 22/07/2014 19:27

Ermoupoli (Ερμούπολη) is the capital of Syros Island, the capital of the Cyclades, and the capital of the South Aegean region.

A Greek lady there wanted me to take a photo of her – and she was more than happy to do the same for me.

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The Nissos Mykonos ferry which I arrived on a few hours ago.

Galissas Beach

By , 22/07/2014 14:24

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First Glimpse of Syros

By , 22/07/2014 11:20

The Northern tip of the island of Syros.

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Piraeus Port

By , 22/07/2014 08:14

Sitting on the ferry, looking over the port of Piraeus (Πειραιάς), shortly before departing for Syros.

Piraeus

Piraeus

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Lost In the City

By , 21/07/2014 23:31

Πλατεία ΜητροπόλεωςFor dinner tonight, I decided I wanted to head for the Plaka (Πλάκα) district – that’s the pedestrianised area where all the tourists go.

Had to be done at least once.

However, on exiting Acropolis Station I took a wrong turn and missed the bit I wanted… I ended up on Mitropoleos Square (Πλατεία Μητροπόλεως) instead.

There is however one advantage of getting lost in the city like this. The square was quite peaceful, and I found a lovely little café there where I ate tonight instead.

The menu was only about 4 or 5 items long – and the waiter recommended to me his Moussaka – saying it was το καλύτερο (the best). Needless to say, I quickly decided that I would go for the Moussaka – and it really was very good!

Moussaka €8 – Fanta Orange €3… Total cost of dinner tonight €11.

I’m off to bed now.

Good night.

FH.

Back to Athens

By , 21/07/2014 19:28

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Above: The view from the house over the town of Leivadia.

As I write this evening, I am back at the Neos Olympos Hotel (Ξενοδοχείο Νέος Όλυμπος) in the centre of Athens, having finished my stay in Leivadia.

I was up at dawn this morning, packing my bag. After a quick breakfast I said my goodbyes to Dimitris and the family, and at 07:30 we loaded the car and headed for the railway station – a 15 minute drive away from the town itself. I took the 08:00 train – service 1511 – arriving in Athens shortly after 09:30 this morning.

I stayed around the railway station for a while; sitting in the cafe there for a drink, and a bougatsa (custard pie) – before heading for the hotel, just a 5 minute walk away. Check-in officially was not until midday, but the hotel receptionist, and his mother who works in the kitchen, remembered me from my first visit, and were more than happy to let me check-in to my room an hour and a half early. I told them that I would be leaving before breakfast tomorrow to travel to Syros, and he explained to me that he had just come from a trip to Syros!

This afternoon I spent a bit of time shopping; a 24 hour All-Athens Transport Pass costs €4, and once I’d got that I got the Underground to Agios Dimitrios (Άγιος Δημήτριος) – where (right next to the station) is Athens Metro Mall. There, I had a walk round looking at what shops they have there – and went in to Public.

Public is – if you can imagine this – a Greek chain store which is effectively PC World combined with Waterstone’s and WH Smiths. There I enjoyed browsing the book shelves, the DVDs, the CDs and the vinyls. I got myself a Greek CD – Christos Dantis (Χρήστος Δάντης) album Ένα Τραγούδι Ακόμα for €6,99.

At the same time I got some blank CD-Rs, which will mean I can burn some music from my laptop to CD to listen to in the car when my parents arrive next week: saving them from bringing all their CDs over. It’s not a good idea to rely on the radio in the car in Greece: being a mountainous country, you lose the signal with every turn!

I had lunch at the Metro Mall as well: there are a range of cafes and restaurants there including Greek chain stores Goody’s and Everest; there’s also Pita Plus, PizzaGR, an Asian restaurant… but I opted for KFC. I must say that ordering KFC in Greek is rather interesting!

I’ve managed to do some washing at the nearby laundrette too, so I’ve got lots of clean clothes to take with me to Syros.

I’m having a bit of a rest now. I’ll be heading for dinner at 9 – and then tomorrow I’m leaving at around 7am, for an 08:05 ferry to Syros.

Bye for now,

FH.

Almost Finished in Viotia

By , 18/07/2014 16:42

I have just two days left in Leivadia, before I return to Athens early on Monday morning. It will be strange to be back in Athens after 2 weeks in a very quiet town, but I am looking forward to returning to Syros on Tuesday, and seeing the rest of my family when they arrive in Greece in 12 days.

The weather this week has been cooler than my first two weeks – Tuesday was overcast, and wet with a short thunderstorm passing over in the morning, and a longer one lasting a couple of hours in the afternoon. Wednesday was just overcast. It made a nice change to be able to work in cooler weather.

The last couple of days, the weather has improved and the temperatures are heading up again, yesterday was sunny in Leivadia itself, but overcast when I went back to the beach at Antikyra. Today has been sunny in the morning, but it has clouded over now and we’ve had a (very light) rain shower.

This is probable the first time I’ve been in Greece and seen a prolonged spell of not-so-sunny weather – it is still warm though; I’m still only in t-shirt and shorts. I think from Sunday onwards the long, hot, sunny days I will look for when I go to the beaches of Syros next week will make a return. I think it is partly due to the area of Greece I am in that the weather is like this.

The Church On A Mountain

Leivadia Church

On Monday I decided to climb the mountain above the springs of Levadia, in order to visit the little church there is up there. It’s only small, but looks quite impressive built in to the rocks – especially at night when it’s all lit up. It’s quite a climb up there, but the views over the town from the top at the top are rather impressive.

Leivadia View from Church

Above: View of Leivadia from the church.

Below: Inside the Church.

Inside the Church

I even got the chance to take a video (below)…

Back to Antikyra

Ag. Isidoros

Yesterday afternoon, in need of another swim, I got the bus back to the coastal village of Antikyra (Αντίκυρα). The end of the bus line is at the beach of Ag. Isidoros (Αγ. Ισίδωρο). It was very busy on Saturday, so I left in in favour of Antikyra’s own beach, which is narrower – and therefore not as busy. Yesterday however, it not being a Saturday, it was quieter.

It was also overcast by the time got there, but that didn’t put me off: I found a nice spot at the end of the beach, under a tree, and went for my swim. It was my first “proper” swim of the holiday: I was in the water for a good 45 minutes.

It was the first beach quiet enough that I had plenty of space, with the added bonus that I didn’t need to worry about leaving my valuables unattended (when I was on the beaches near Athens, that was always a concern). I also enjoyed being able to swim quite far out and still be standing not more than waist deep in water. It’s also sandy underfoot once you get away from the water’s edge.

After enjoying my swim and drying off, I walked back in top the main village – about a 15 minute walk. With the sun setting, another hour until the bus, and another hour after that until I’d be back at the house in Leivadia, I went in search of something to eat. Though Antikyra has it’s tourists, they are mainly Greek, so the tavernas and restaurants were empty even at 8 in the evening. This turned out to be quite useful when I chose a cheap little gyro place to have a cheap bite to eat.

After so many years coming to Greece for my holidays, I am more than comfortable ordering my own food & drink in a taverna, and asking for the bill, etc. Even when I’m not the one paying, as the Greek speaker in the family I’ve been the one asking for the bill probably for the last 10 years.

It was when we were on Thassos I learned how to ask for the bill in Greek, so that would have it at either 2004 or 2006. Usually I’d say «Ο πατέρας μου θέλει των λογαριασμό» (“My father would like the bill”). This year I’ve been doing it the more Greek way, saying simply: «Παρακαλώ…» (to get the waiter’s attention): «Να σας πληρώσω». This more colloquial expression I copied from a group of Greeks in a taverna in Delphi the other day.

Arriving in the little gyro place on the sea front in Antikyra, I ordered my food and started talking to the waiter there; he could tell I was not Greek bus wasn’t sure where I was from. For some reason, when I explained I was from England, he asked me «Ξέρεις Εδιμβούργο;» (Do you know Edinburgh?) Anyway… I used this as an opportunity to explain to him how I’ve learned Greek, and about my Grand Tour of Greece – where in the area I’m staying and about the work I’m doing in Leivadia.

I get a huge amount of satisfaction from being able to hold a long conversation entirely in Greek, especially when it ends with «Μιλάς πάρα πολύ καλά Ελληνικά, έχεις καλή προφορά». I now know that προφορά = accent or pronunciation.

After paying my bill (just €3), the waiter thanked me, wished me «καλό ταξίδι» (good travel) – and before I left I managed to get him to take a photo of me.

By popular request (repeated texts from Mum ever since I got here), here is a photo with me actually in it, taken by my friend in Antikyra, just next to the table where I sat for my meal.

Me in Antikyra

This is one of the reasons I love coming to Greece so much: the φιλοξενία (hospitality – the Greek word for which is made of the words “friend” and “foreigner/guest/stranger”): they welcome everyone to their country as friends, and they definitely appreciate any effort made by a foreigner to speak their language.

Right… I’m off for a short siesta now. I’ll try and write again once I get back to Athens.

Bye for now,

FH.

Antikyra and Delphi

By , 14/07/2014 18:58

Today sees the start of my second week in Leivadia. It is just 8 days now until I head to Syros – which I am really looking forward to.

This weekend saw me using the local bus services a couple of times. After work on Saturday, I decided I was in need of a beach: I took the 5pm bus to Antikyra (Αντίκυρα) – the small town just along the coast from where Dimitris took me a couple of days ago. I had a walk round, had something to drink, and had another swim.

I must say I am looking forward to next week where, barring my few days in Kalambaka and Thessaloniki, I will probably be on the beach at some point every day for the rest of my tour. It is still extremely hot here.

The bus journey to Antikyra takes about an hour from Leviadia; and about half way between, from the bus I could see a small wildfire burning on the mountainside – with helicopters and planes circling ahead, taking it in turns to come down to drop water on the fire. It was all out by the time I went past on the bus back a few hours later.

Photo below: Antikyra – Looking towards the beach.

Antikyra

Sunday was my day off, and Dimitris suggested I take the bus to Delphi (Δελφοί / τους Δελφούς) for the day: It’s just under 45km away, and the bus journey takes 45 minutes.

Delphi is, along with the Acropolis, one of those ‘must-see’ sights of Greece. There’s a museum there, and the archaeological site (I’ll put more photos up a bit later) – entry for EU students is free. On that note: Φοιτητικό εισιτήριο is one of the most useful phrases I have used since arriving here. I estimate it’s probably saved me €20 on entrance fees – maybe more!

Treasury of the Athenians

Photo above: Treasury of the Athenians (next to the Treasury of the Boetians – Boetoia/Viotia/Βοιωτία) being the county I am in now).

Just a few minutes walk from the archaeological site and museum lies the modern village of Delphi – it’s a nice little town, with the main road running through on two levels: one level for traffic coming one way, one level for the other. The roads are narrow and there are lots of tavernas, bars, restaurants and hotels there. I walked up to some of the back streets on the upper levels and found the church, opposite the police station.

Photo below: Narrow street in the modern village of Delphi.

Delphi

Delphi Church

Photo Above: The church in Delphi.

Photo below: There are excellent views from Delphi down towards Itea (Ιτέα), a coastal town where the bus between Athens, Leivadia and Delphi terminates.

View towards Itea

Today I am having a quieter day – just sitting in my cafe in Leivadia having a drink an an ice cream. I think I might go back to Antikyra again later in the week, and maybe head back to Delphi or even to Itea again on Sunday.

Tonight: I must e-mail the hotels/apartments I’m staying in next week and let them know what time I’m arriving – particularly for Syros, where I will be able to get a free transfer from the port to the village.

Time to pay up and head back to the house.

Bye for now,

FH.

Living Like A Greek

By , 11/07/2014 20:54

Aspra Spitia

While I am in Leivadia (Λειβαδιά) I really am living like a true Greek. It is a very Greek town – no tourists (any that are here are Greek)… the kiosks don’t sell postcards, or, annoyingly, stamps. The post office closes before I finish work!

As in Athens, I am generally getting up around 7 in the morning – the difference here is that breakfast is almost straight away, not at 8. By 8 I am starting my day’s work: mostly work in the garden, such as collecting dead leaves, cutting the grass, cutting wood for the fire etc. I finish my day’s work at 1.

After 1 I have an hour to get ready for the main meal of the day – the food here is quite good, and always home cooked. It feels strange sitting round a dining room table eating lunch in Greece; I’m normally used to sitting in a taverna for these sorts of meals.

After lunch the family go for their siesta, and I go to explore: I’ve walked up in to the mountains overlooking Leivadia for some wonderful views, I’ve sat by the springs and read my book, each evening I’ve gone in to one of the cafes by the springs for a drink and an ice cream (the banana ice cream is particularly nice).

Yesterday was a good chance to get out of the town for a bit: Dimitris and his sister took me to the beach – we went to Aspra Spitia (Άσπρα Σπίτια) beach – pictured above. It is  just along the coast from the town of Antikyra (Αντίκυρα), which also has a nice beach. Next week I might take the bus and go to the beach on my own. There aren’t many busses to there, but there is one at around 5, and one back at about 8.

In the evenings, a light meal around 9: yoghurt, feta cheese, bread etc. Sometimes leftovers from the main meal if there are any.

Today’s big achievements: Having encountered a problem on my laptop leaving me unable to access my e-mails, I took my laptop today to a computer repair place in Leivadia, and (bearing in mind all my Greek tech-vocab is entirely self taught) I successfully explained in Greek what the problem was, and they were able to fix it for me: I was out of the shop after less than 5 minutes.

Also today I used a cashpoint in Greece for the first time. I’ve never been here long enough to need to use one before!  On the ‘select language’ screen I selected Greek. It’s quite fun using the cashpoints and Athens Metro ticket machines without needing to put it to English! The money I withdrew today is the money I’ll need in Levadia for the next week, and for my return to Athens in a couple of weeks: I don’t trust the cashpoints in Athens, there are all sorts of dodgy looking people lurking nearby!!

Normally at this point in my holidays in Greece – I’d be just 3 days away from flying home. Not this year! Tuesday is not the day I return to the UK: It marks instead one third of the way through my Grand Tour of Greece. By Wednesday, I will have been in Greece for 15 days: Longer than I have ever been in this country before.

Off downstairs in a minute for some dinner, and then I’ll head to bed.

Bye for now,

FH.

Heading North

By , 08/07/2014 21:51

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I’ve come North now – I am 130 kilometers (or 81 miles) from Athens, and I am now in Leivadia (Λειβαδιά) – the capital of the Voiotia (Βοιωτία) county.

For the next two weeks, I am staying with a family in the town; In return for free food and accommodation, I volunteer to do work. Here, it’s light, easy work – and after 1pm I am finished for the day. We have lunch at 2, then I am free for the rest of the day. This morning I was putting all the dry leaves from the ground in to crates, to feed to the rabbits.

This is my first time staying in an actual Greek house: It’s a nice little place. But I shall be honest, I miss the air conditioning of my Athens hotel room – and I got away with not having insect repellant in Athens, but I’ve got one bite on my arm now, not sure what from.

The family are good English speakers – Dimitris used to be an English teacher before he retired; they regularly have foreign tourists stay with them and speak to them in English –  but I have been speaking Greek with the family. There are certain words and phrases I’ve known for years but have never been placed in a situation where I’ve needed to use them: Staying with a family, I have been able to do so. As an example… You wouldn’t really go in to a taverna in the evening and tell the waiter how well you slept last night.

Even just sitting and listening to Dimitris talking with his sister and his daughter (and to the dogs), I am picking things up: I can take part in family conversations which the majority of their foreign volunteers can’t do! Dimitris’ daughter’s reaction when she realised I can speak Greek: “We must be careful”. And so must I: My German language skills have made an unexpected re-appearance. I should point out I haven’t actually spoken German yet, but I’ve had German words on the tip of my tongue on more than one occasion.

Another big achievement today: Talking to animals in Greek. The two dogs here are rather big. They’re not bad, in fact I’m starting to quite like them in a rather strange way. That said, the “social boundaries” I set for dogs are different to those I set for cats. The main words I’ve used when talking to the dogs: ΗΣΥΧΑ! (QUIET!), Μη (Don’t), Όχι (No), Φύγε (Leave/Go away), and Έξω (Out).

The dogs are only trying to be friendly, but I’d rather not have them jumping up at me, or trying to lick my feet – in particular, they seem to like my right toe a lot: the one which is all horrible. It’s really quite annoying!

After lunch this afternoon, the family went for their siesta and I headed in to town to explore – I went to the springs, which they call η κρύα (the kria) because the water is cold. There, I sat for a few hours reading my book; spoke to Mum on the phone for the first time in a week, and I spent a bit of time sitting in a café…and had my first ice cream of the holiday!

It is two weeks today that I had to Syros, which I’m really looking forward to. I’ve got my Syros calendar with me, up beside my bed! Also to come on my Grand Tour of Greece: Kalambaka, Thessaloniki and Thassos. Maps all somewhere in the bottom of my suitcase.

I think I’m off to bed now.

Good night,

FH.

Mountains & Stadiums

By , 06/07/2014 23:59

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Today I’ve been to Monastiraki, the University, I climbed Mt. Lykavittos, and I went to the Panathenaic Stadium.

060720142049Monastiraki is one of the tourist districts of Athens; pedestrianised and home to the city’s Flea Market. Having been told it was best on Sunday mornings before 11, I went first thing this morning. It was a lovely walk past all the cafes, and through the flea market itself; mainly Greeks out and about at this time on a Sunday morning: tourists all still in bed!

From there, I got the metro to Panepistimio station (Panepistimio is the Greek word for University) and photographed the National Library and Athens University buildings. From there, I walked up Lykavittos Hill, which took about an hour, and enjoyed the 360 views over the city.

View frrom Lykavittos

060720142135After walking back down the hill and back to the station, my next stop was Syntagma, from where I was just a few minutes by foot from the Panathenaic Olympic Stadium. With my Uni of Glos ID card I got the student discount, getting in for €1,50 – and took a free audio guide too. Sport isn’t my thing – but the stadium was rather spectacular. As an added bonus – after following the passage indoors I found on display all the Olympic Torches: including the ones used for London 2012 and London 1948!

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Back outside, I walked up to the top of the stands for a photo looking through the stadium towards the entrance. Near the exit, on display is a list of all the Presidents of the International Olympic Committee, and a list of all the Modern Olympic Games which have taken place – all listed in Greek of course; so now I know the Greek words for St. Louis and Antwerp (Most of the other cities are relatively self-explanitory in Greek – just remember that Monaco is the Greek word for Munich!

After lunch, I returned to the hotel for a late siesta – I tuned to the Third Programme and slept for nearly 4 hours.

For my final night in Athens, I ate at the restaurant on Karaiskaki Square, just down the road from my hotel; and where Metaxourgeio Metro Station is located. Pork souvlaki with rice, chips and a slice of lemon: which is what I cooked in Cheltenham last week. I think my version had more flavour though, but it was still nice, and although the road was very busy and noisy, I secretly enjoyed watching the traffic on the roundabout. It was all locals eating in the restaurant – no tourists – in fact I don’t think the waiter picked up that I was not Greek.

So that’s my week in Athens done. Tomorrow, I’m off to Levadia. Don’t know whether I’ll blog every day there: but I’ll try and post several times during the week if I can.

Bye for now.

Panathenaic Stadium

By , 06/07/2014 14:00

Just a couple of minutes walk from Syntagma Square is the Panathenaic Olympic Stadium (Παναθηναϊκο Στάδιο). €3 entry (students €1,50) and audio guides are free.

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Panathenaic Stadium

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Above: The Royal Box.

Track

Two-Sided Herms

Above: Two-sided Herms

Tunnel

Passage

Passage

Olympic Torches on Display

OT1

Κάλγκαρι, Τορίνο, Σότσι, Βανκούβερ – Calgary, Torino, Sochi and Vancouver.

OT2

Ίνσμπρουκ, Λεϊκ Πλάσιντ, Σεράγεβο – Innsbruck, Lake Placid, Seragevo.

ΟΤ3

Πεκίνο (Beijing) 2008, Λονδίνο (London) 2012.

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Λονδίνο (London) 2012

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Αθήνα, Μελβούρνη, Ρώμη, Τόκυο – Athens, Melbourne, Rome, Tokyo.

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Βερολίνο, Λονδίνο, Ελσίνκι – Berlin, London, Helsinki

060720142123Λονδίνο London 1948

Back Outside

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The Acropolis

Above: Looking over to the Acropolis.

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Above: List of the Modern Olympic Games. (The numbers on the left are the Greek equivilant of Roman numerals – Greek numerals)!

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Above: List of Presidents of the International Olympic Committee – and the countries they are from. (Thomas Bach is the current one, he’s from Germany according to this. No British ones in the list)…

Mt. Lykavittos

By , 06/07/2014 11:15

Great views over the city of Athens from the top of Mt. Lykavittos (Λόφος Λυκαβηττού).

View frrom Lykavittos

Lykavittos View

University

By , 06/07/2014 10:30

The National & Kapodistrian University of Athens is just one two stops from my hotel on the tube. It is from here that I walked up Mt. Lykavittos.

Below: National Library of Greece – Εθνική Βιβλιοθήκη τις Ελλάδος.

National Library

University

Above: National and Kapodistrian University of Athens – Εθνικό και Καποδιστριακό Πανεπιστήμιο Αθηνών

Below: Academy of Athens – Ακαδημία Αθήνας

Academy

Morning Walk in Monastiraki

By , 06/07/2014 09:53

Took the underground to Monastiraki (Μοναστιράκι) first thing this morning for an early morning walk. Nice to be up and about before most of the tourists flood in, the pedestrianised areas are quite nice first thing in the morning. Walked towards Thisseio Station and back again.

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Market

Acropolis and Glyfada

By , 05/07/2014 23:50

Parthenon

One of the great things about being in the city with an unlimited travel pass is that I can get almost anywhere I want to relatively quickly. I’m going almost everywhere on the underground, which is very reliable and convenient.

First thing this morning, I went to the Acropolis – 10 minutes away on the underground. Free entry for EU students with a valid university ID card. (Hooray! Mine’s valid until the end of the month). I enjoyed the views over the city, and down towards the coast at Piraeus.

Returning to my hotel, I spent a bit of time using the Internet downstairs; the owner had his grandchildren here and asked me to show them how to access games on the computer: The perfect test for my Greek, as they weren’t yet of school age and didn’t speak English (the owner, by the way, speaks to me in English).

After my daily siesta (which I took earlier than usual today) I headed to Syntagma on the underground, from where I could jump on the tram. The tram is covered by my travel pass – so no need to pay for new tickets. There are two lines: one line goes to Σ.Ε.Φ. (the Peace & Friendship Stadium), and I took the one heading to Voula.

Not far before you get to Voula lies the Athenian suburb of Glyfada – home to quite a few Greek celebrities (including two of my favourite Greek singers). There’s the main beach which has it’s own tram station; but I stayed on a little bit longer and jumped off at Palio Dimarcheo (‘Old Town Hall’) station after seeing a nice quiet beach with a taverna on it.

GlyfadaThis beach is West facing and the sea calmer than on Tuesday; there was no wind here. I had a longer time at the beach today and swam more than once as well. It’s strange to think that both Glyfada and Voula have beaches packed with foreign tourists; and in between, less than 5 minutes walk from Glyfada’s main beach, lies a very quiet spot full of mainly Greeks!

For dinner, I got the tube to Acropolis Station and wandered round the pedestrianised streets there; heading towards Theseio Station, which is on the other Metro line to mine. The route took me right through the heart of Athens’ tourist districts (the sort of places we’d probably stay if we were here on a package holiday). As nice as it was to walk through in the evening, I wasn’t to stay and eat here. I wanted something more Greek.

That Greek experience I found just round the corner from Acropolis Station – but outside the pedestrianised bit. I’d walked past it when I first arrived earlier in the evening and made a mental note to return if I couldn’t find anything else. So I returned.

DinnerThis was a restaurant with a few tables on the pavement outside, and a small number inside. There was no menu: the food was on display, and I simply was able to say to the lady (the owner I assume) which dish I wanted. For €8,50 I had moschari me rizi (beef with rice) and a Fanta orange. It was a lovely little place – not hidden away, but much quieter and much more relaxed simply because the tourists stick to the pedestrianised street just over the road.

It’s my last day in Athens tomorrow. Heading to the flea market at Monastiraki in the morning, then to see the changing of the guard at Parliament (they get the army band out on a Sunday), then I plan to walk Mt. Lykavittos.

Bye for now.

Dinner Near the Acropolis

By , 05/07/2014 22:24

Just round the corner from Acropolis Metro Station – but quieter than the tourist tavernas on the pedestrianised street the station is on.

Dinner

Glyfada

By , 05/07/2014 18:04

Believe it or not, this lovely quiet little beach lies just a minute or so from one of the stations of the Athens tram! It is just an hour from Syntagma Square. The main beach at Glyfada is packed, but this one, near the ‘Palio Dimarcheo’ station is really quite nice…and it has a taverna there too, where I sat for a bit and had a drink.

Glyfada

Glyfada

Glyfada

Above: The beach at the Southern end of Glyfada.

Below: The tram back to Syntagma Square.

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Below: The tram station in Glyfada.

Tram Station

The Acropolis of Athens

By , 05/07/2014 13:07

View

Above: I’m above the the theatre I was in last night…

Below: Looking down in to the theatre.

Theatre

Parthenon

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Above: The Parthenon.

Below: The view over the city of Athens.

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