29ος Γύρος της Αθήνας 2015

29ος Γύρος της Αθήνας 2015.Την Κυριακή 18 Οκτωβρίου 2015 και ώρα 9.00 π.μ στο Καλλιμάρμαρο ξεκινά ο 29ος Γύρος της Αθήνας 2015.Για αίτηση συμμετοχής ενηλίκων,παιδιών,διαδρομές και
τους όρους συμμετοχής στον 29ο Γύρο Αθήνας 2015 πατήστε εδώ

Κομμάτι του σύγχρονου Αθηναικού και Ελληνικού πολιτισμού.

Athens Classic Marathon 2013

Athens Classic Marathon 2013

Athens Classic Marathon 2013 this Sunday 10th November 2013.From 5Km to 10 Km or to a complete Marathon pick your shoes and get ready.
Athens hosts again this great athletic event.More information about Athens Classic Marathon.

2013 Κλασσικός Μαραθώνιος της Αθήνας.Ακόμα μια χρονιά διοργανώνεται ο κλασσικός μαραθώνιος της Αθήνας.
Αν χρειάζεστε και κίνητρο τι καλύτερο?

Athens – The Capital of Greece

During the independence of Greece in 1830, Athens was a small town, with the size of a village. Now it is a great town with authentic look that is still fascinating. What makes it unique is the diversity of architectural styles, good people, sirtaki and the icy ouzo…all these things will spell you.

In Athens you cannot get bored, but you should take some time for an afternoon nap. In the summer time, between two and four in the afternoon, the killing Athenian sun shines mercilessly. That’s why the most appropriate time to travel to Greece is in the early autumn or late spring.

Athens is both the capital and the largest city in Greece. It is situated on Attica peninsula, in a relatively hilly area and is connected to Piraeus port.

Your trip with bus to Greece will not cost much. It is very comfortable and you will be able to see many places there. There are many hotels where you can stay for little money.

When you go to Athens you will have the chance to walk for hours and to try the delicious food of some of the small restaurants in the narrow streets. You can sit in one of the thousands cafes and taverns full of lanterns and musicians. Here is the paradise of the Greek salad, covered with olive oil and olives. In Piraeus, the port of Athens, you can find seaside taverns, where the most delicious thing is the seafood – fresh octopus, squid and fish and ouzo as an aperitif. At about nine or ten o’clock local people go to dinner, drink coffee or cocktails. If you decide to join the nightlife, one o’clock at night on Friday and Saturday is the right time.

It is clear that if you are on holiday in Athens, you will want to see some attractions of the town. You will find many new beauties there – from beautiful squares, monuments to taverns. It is better for you to get a map and to mark your route and put some red circles around the places you want to see. The historic center of Athens is the Acropolis (now a museum) with the Parthenon, the Propylaea, the Temple of Nike, Erechteum and others. This is definitely the place that you should visit. At the foot of the hill are located the theatre of Dionysus (5 century B.C.), the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the ancient necropolis, agora. Do not miss the political and cultural center, Academy of Sciences, the National Archaeological Museum, the National Gallery and the Museum of Byzantine art. The chief town square is Syntagma.

There is a great possibility that you will fall in love with Athens. It is really wonderful town and you will be amazed by all the sights there.

Read more about the beauty of Greece from this great article.

Greece – Athens Syntagma Square

Let us walk now to the east of Plateia Syntagmatos along Leophoros Vasilissis Sophias for another five minutes to another major museum situated on this avenue. Directly opposite the corner at the end of the National Garden, where the barracks of the Guard of Evzones now stand, one can distinguish the neo-Doric portico of the BENAKI MUSEUM. Antonios Benakis (1873-1954) spent thirty-five years in acquiring rare and precious objects from all over the world, and personally supervising their installation in his father’s house. When he converted it into a museum which he gave to the Greek people in 1930, he determined to avoid creating, wherever possible, the formal arrangement and impersonal atmosphere of the conventional museum, but to preserve the warmth and intimacy of a gracious home, in which the visitor would always be welcome. The rapid growth of the Museum Collections and activities called for the recent enlargement of its buildings, and the radical revision of its museological conception.

The main building of the Museum displays, in a series of thirty-six galleries, the historical and cultural development of Hellenism as it has unfolded in the course of many centuries. The exhibits are depicted in chronological order, starting from Prehistoric to Late Roman period and Byzantine Empire in the ground floor, the development of Hellenism under the foreign domination and Ecclesiastical post-byzantine art in the first floor, culture, economy and society in the eve of the War of Independence in the second floor and, finally, exhibits from the War of Independence up to the formation of the modern Greek state in the top floor.

Continuing our walk along the Avenue for about a hundred meters we turn left into Odhos Neophytou Douka where, on our right, stands the modern building of the MUSEUM OF CYCLADIC AND ANCIENT GREEK ART. The museum, a donation by Ekaterini Goulandri and her deceased husband Nicolaos, was built in 1983 and contains their private collection of rare and precious objects of Cycladic and Ancient Greek art, enriched by purchases from abroad and donations by prominent Greek collectors.

In the museum’s ground floor the visitor is first introduced into the basic principles of the Cycladic civilization and the art and geography of the Cyclades, with the aid of maps, drawings and other educational material. Here is also in display the Treasure of Keros, consisting of very important findings dating from the third millennium BC which were retrieved from this small Aegean island.

The first floor contains the core of the Cycladic collection, which, among others, includes the famous marble figures typical of this old civilization. In the second floor are on display vases, clay figurines and bronze items dating from the Archaic to the Classical period of Greek art while in the 4th floor is a very interesting collection of items dating from the fourteenth to the sixth century BC, a private donation in memory of the late Karolos Politis.

We re-enter Leophoros Vasilissis Sophias and continue our walk along the avenue. At the traffic lights, on our left, is an elegant neo-classical building, recently donated to the Cycladic Museum, which now accommodates the archaeological findings discovered during the construction of the Athens subway. On our right is the Officers Club and beyond this building is the BYZANTINE MUSEUM, housing a priceless collection of Byzantine art.

The noted architect Stamatis Cleanthes originally designed the attractive buildings composing the museum in 1840 as the town house of the Duchesse de Plaisance. The Duchess, daughter of Francois de Marbois, a French diplomat, and his American wife, was born in Philadelphia U.S.A., in 1785. She married the Duc de Plaisance, a minister under Napoleon and also under Louis XVIII. A fervent philhellene, she was one of the most generous supporters of Greece during the War of Independence. In 1830 she arrived in Athens and devoted much of her time and money to the education of the daughters of the leaders of the War of independence. She died in 1854 and was buried on her estate in Penteli.

Left of the museum proper, an annex of four rooms houses a rich collection of icons, including Russian and Coptic specimens, from the 14th to 18th centuries. We now enter the museum proper. The Vestibule: this contains characteristic examples of early Christian art from the 4th to 6th centuries. From the Vestibule, we turn right into Room I, arranged as a reproduction, on a reduced scale, of a 5th or 6th century basilica. Room II is devoted to Byzantine sculpture from the 9th to 15th centuries; this room gives on to Room III which reproduces a cruciform church, a type already popular with architects as early as the 10th century. Room IV, the last on the ground floor, is arranged as a post-Byzantine church, such as existed during the Turkish occupation. The decoration is mostly 18th century.

The icons exhibited on the upper floor are arranged in chronological order: those in Room I date from the 12th to the 16th centuries; in Room II from the 17th century. Rooms III and IV are devoted to minor arts and crafts, both Byzantine and post-Byzantine.

Immediately on turning right from the Byzantine Museum, we come to the massive buildings of the NATIONAL WAR MUSEUM. Continuing along Leophoros Vasilissis Sophias, we pass the church of the Rizareios Theological Seminary, founded by George Rizaris in 1841; the seminary is now installed in the suburb of Chalandri. On our left a small public garden fronts the Evangelismos Hospital, founded on the initiative of Queen Olga, consort of George I, in 1881, and first subsidized by her and other philanthropists. Today the Evangelismos Hospital is one of Greece’s largest and most important medical centers.

We have now arrived opposite the Athens Hilton, to the right of which stands the entrance-hall and central gallery of the NATIONAL PICTURE GALLERY AND ALEXANDER SOUTSOS MUSEUM. At present this is the only one of the group of spacious ultra-modern buildings to be completed, consequently a very limited number of pictures from the National Collection can be exhibited.

Leaving the Gallery, with the Hilton Hotel on our right, we cross over into Odhos Gennadiou. Half-way on the right of Odhos Gennadiou, is the church of the seventeenth century Monastery of the Assomati, commonly known as MONI PETRAKI with splendid frescoes painted in the early 18th century.

At the end of the street, on Odhos Suidias, stands the neo-Ionic facade of the GENNADIOS LIBRARY, administered by the American School of Classical Studies. This graceful edifice was designed by Stuart Thompson to house the huge library of precious books, drawings, engravings etc., donated by loannis Gennadios, scholar and diplomat, who was Hellenic Minister at the court of St. James during the reign of Queen Victoria. The Library was erected at the expense of the Carnegie Foundation in 1926. It contains more than 40,000 volumes, among which are very rare editions of Greek history, literature, and archaeology. Opposite the Library is the American School of Classical Studies, founded in 1882. Next to the American School is the British School of Archaeology, founded four years later.

Further down Odhos Suidias is the MARASLEIOS PEDAGOGIC ACADEMY, a teachers’ training college and high school, founded in 1878 by Grigoris Maraslis.

Astor Hotel, Esperia Palace and Niki Hotel are among the best in Athens.

All You Need to Know About Athens, Greece Hotels

Athens offers a wide variety of choices for travelers looking to find a suitable hotel to put up in. One can choose from a host of 5 star, 4 star and 3 star hotels depending on their budget and preference. A four star hotel however, may not always be better than one with a three star rating. This is due to the fact that within a category there are different degrees at work. These degrees may not be official but give a fairly accurate description of a hotel. For instance, a 3 star hotel with a grading of B superior is deemed better than a 4 star with C grading. In some cases C category Athens Greece hotels are even better than A category hotels. These grading are mostly based on various factors such as the size of the rooms, the lobby and the quality and pricing of the food served.

Booking your rooms

Booking at any of the Athens Greece hotels is fairly easy with most having their own websites where tourists can book rooms online. Another option is to book through a travel agent. Some of the agents offer the best deals which come out to be a lot cheaper than booking directly with the hotel. But if you are a backpacker with a very shoestring budget and no fixed itinerary then it’s better to book directly with a C category hotel. Booking with a travel agent has a number of other advantages as well. These agencies have access to all the travel schedules and can hence make your booking according to the schedule. If you make a booking on your own you run the chance of planning according to an outdated schedule. Also make sure to book your hotel well in advance before your scheduled arrival in Greece. The Athens Greece hotels can get filled up very quickly and if you arrive without any prior booking you might have to put up in a dump suggested by your taxi driver who obviously gets a decent commission from the hotel. You also wouldn’t want to wander around the city looking for a hotel after a taxing 10 -12 hour flight.

Airport hotels for short stays

For people who are visiting Athens on business purposes and are not likely to stay for more than a day or two, airport hotels are the perfect choice. The Airport Sofitel does have exorbitantly high rates but the convenience it offers to business travelers is well worth it. Just cross over from the terminal across a parking lot and you find yourself inside the lobby of the hotel. It is clean, well run and you do save a lot of money on taxis to and from the airport. For people looking for something more affordable, the Hotel Les Amis is recommended. It is located just 12 kilometers away from the airport and offers decent services.

Hi, I am Angel. I love Greece. Greece offers a wide variety of choices for travelers looking to find a suitable Athens greece hotels to put up inlike

Seven Things to Do in Athens, Greece

Athens is best known for its role in classical history and for the tourist this is still the primary appeal. Other Greek destinations have overtaken Athens in promoting the nightlife and beach holidays, but Athens still reigns supreme for its history and tradition. However, Athens is also a modern city and the capital of Greece, so it still offers plenty more than just the ancient ruins of its glorious past.

Here is a list of seven of the more popular sights and activities for tourists visiting Athens:

The Acropolis. This has been the heart of Athens from antiquity and remains so today. The Parthenon, a massive marble temple in the center of Acropolis, is visible from almost everywhere in the city. The Acropolis actually has more than this and is a whole complex well worth exploring in detail.

Plaka. To get a sense of the modern city, visit the Plaka district. Full of souvenir shops, small cafes, restaurants and other local attractions, this is where you should go to get a feel of modern Athens and its people.

Psirri. This district has been fully renovated since the 2004 Olympics and is now the center of the Athens nightlife. If you want to find a party, head on down. The Gazi district is also happening, but is more popular with the gay scene.

Anafiotika District. To get a feel for the real city and escape the tourists in Plaka, visit this district. A maze of tiny, winding streets and alleys, this is more like the real Athens and is very picturesque.

National Archaeological Museum. This is an absolute must for those interested in Greek history and features the largest collection of ancient Greek artifacts anywhere. These come from all over Greece, not just Athens and Attica.

The Agora. Outside of, and below, the Acropolis, this was the marketplace of ancient Athens. Some of the ancient buildings still stand and some of the newer additions are quite notable in their own right.

Delphi. Along the same theme of ancient Greece, you can take a day trip from Athens to visit the ruins at Delphi, home of the famous Oracle. The organized tours are expensive, so consider just renting a car and going on your own.

Modern Athens is still a dynamic city in its own right, but no one denies that the primary tourist draw is the ancient ruins. For history buffs this place is wonderful while for others a brief visit will probably be satisfactory.

Read more about Greece Vacations or Things to do in Greece, Things to do in Athens

Guide to the Annual Athens Festival in Greece

Every year, during the Athens Festival in Greece, the city’s ancient monuments are converted into theatres that overflow with crowds from around the world who come to experience the cultural magnificence of the city of Athens. Steeped in arts, history and culture, this ancient city hosts one of the largest celebrations of the art and culture in the world.

Commonly known as the Hellenic Festival, the Annual Athens event is a four-month long cultural extravaganza that takes place through the summer months in Athens. Music, dance, theatre and various other expressions of artistic talents are showcased in this popular festival. The most impressive venues in the city of Athens come to life during the summer months to host performances by artists both from Greece and from around the world. The venue of this festival is the Odeon of Herodes Atticus which is also called the Herodeion.

Through the years, some of the most famous names in the history of music, dance and theatre have graced this festival with their presence. Some of the famous personalities who have performed at the Athens Festival in Greece are Callas, Rostropovich, Mitropoulos, Pavarotti, Dimitris Sgouros, Leonidas Kavakos, Theodorakis, Savvopoulos, Protopsalti, Hadjidakis, Dalaras, Elton John and Marinella. The theatre styles featured range from Noh Theatre to the Peking Opera and Bunraku puppet theatre.

The Athens Festival in Greece or the Hellenic festival has had an eventful past. The festival began over 50 years ago in the year 1955 when the government of Alexander Papagos ruled Greece. In order to organise the event, Dinos Giannopoulis, a famous theatre director in America, was invited to Greece and given the task of organising the Athens Festival as he saw fit. In its opening year, the festival was a huge success and the program greatly focussed on theatre and music. The highlight of the events of the Athens Festival in 1955 was the performance of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra which was then conducted by Dimitris Mitropoulos.

Since the first year of the festival, the Athens Festival has grown in popularity and even the number of venues had to increase to accommodate the large crowds that came from around the world to view this event.

Many people from around the world specifically plan their trips to Athens to coincide with the dates of the festival. The schedule of the festival is available online or at the Athens Festival Office in the Spiromilios Arcade. Tickets are normally sold out well in advance, in some case months in advance, and they are available at the Odeon of the Herodes Atticus. Most shows begin at 9 pm.

Orson Johnson writes for Holiday Velvet, a website providing Holiday accommodation Greece and Athens apartment services.

The Best of Athens, Greece: A Guide for Tourists

Before you get too excited, read below to find some great tips about travelling to Athens. If you plan ahead, you’ll ensure that your Athens vacation is the best it can be!

Getting to Athens: Using a Greek Travel Agent

You might be frightened about using a travel agent you’re not familiar with – especially from a foreign country. Have no fear, using a reputable Greek travel agent is probably the safest and most affordable way to schedule your visit to Athens.

There are several reasons why using a Greek travel agent can help your travels go more smoothly. One, they are very familiar with the Athens area and can direct you to the right hotel, activities and travel methods during your stay. A travel agent who is not located in Greece will not always be able to provide the best possible options. Second, a Greek travel agent often has access to more discounted packages for hotels, rental cars, cruises, resort packages, tours, airline tickets, etc. So, you will probably save money on your overall travel expenses by using a Greek travel agent. Third, if you run into problems during your stay, get lost or lose something, a travel agent who’s actually located in Athens will be able to assist you directly. If your travel agent is located thousands of miles away, you’re pretty much on your own!

Ferry Schedules and Travel Agents

Ferry schedules are a whole other ball park when it comes to planning your trip. By using a Greek travel agent, you’ll have access to the most up-to-date ferry boat schedules. Ferry boats are used to travel to and from the Greek islands, so you must be able to schedule your ride at the right times if you plan to visit any islands while in Athens. The problem with ferry schedules is that they’re are usually released and changed at the last minute. So, even using the Internet to research your own schedules will not always be accurate. The last thing you need is to be stranded on some island!

Recommended Hotels in Athens

When planning your trip to Athens, be sure you understand where your hotel is located, what rating it has and the expense of staying there. Many hotels and resorts are available in Athens, but you want to be sure it will meet your needs. The best way to know for sure is to talk with a travel agent and explain the type of room and price you desire.

Great areas to stay in Athens include Makrianni, Plaka, Thission, Syntagma, Koukaki and Monastiraki. These are within walking distance of many of the major attractions and sights in Athens, so you can avoid driving downtown as much as possible. Also these areas all border the Acropolis and its surrounding archaeological park. Shops, restaurants, taxis, ferry ports, buses, etc. are all nearby these areas as well.

Below is a list of some great hotels in Athens, some being upscale and others being family-oriented or inexpensive.

Avra Rafina

The Avra Rafina is a great three-star hotel that’s located near the ferries. It’s a great place to stay if you want to be away from the city life of Athens and take a visit to the islands.

Hotel Athens Plaza

This is a fine hotel that has a building on Syntagma Square as well as one building that sits away from the Grande Bretagne. It’s elegant and the price shows it!

Armonia Hotel The Armonia Hotel is located out of the center of Athens at a quiet beach location. It’s close to the airport with easy access to cruise ships and ferries. The rooms are of high quality, and it offers a swimming pool.

Electra Palace Hotel

The Electra Palace Hotel is an A-category hotel that has been renovated recently. It has an indoor pool, comfortable rooms and great views of the Acropolis. The location is in the Plaka and only two blocks from Syntagma Square.

Astor Hotel

The Astor Hotel is an A-category hotel that is located only a half a block from Syntagma Square. It offers a delicious breakfast at the restaurant, a roof garden, gift shop and more! A conference room is also available for meetings. The rooms are well-furnished and have central heating, air conditioning, color television and radio. Upper-level rooms have balconies.

Athens Cypria Hotel

This hotel is located on a small street just a couple of blocks from Syntagma Square, and near the shopping street that welcomes pedestrians – Ermou. It’s also close to the Plaka and the archaeological sites.

The Adams Hotel

The Adams Hotel is family-owned and operated. It has been completely renovated and all rooms now have television, bathrooms, air conditioning and some have balconies with a terrace. It’s located on a quiet street in the Plaka, and is only a block from Kydatheneon Street. Although not fancy, the renovation helped this hotel tremendously with comfort and appearance!

Cecil Hotel

This hotel is in a neo-classical building located in old Athens. It’s near the Ancient Market and the New City Market. The central pedestrian street is also nearby. The Lycabettus Hill, the Syntagma, the Acropolis and the Philopappus are all near as well.

Hotel Attalos

The Hotel Attalos is located near the Monastiraki Flea Market and Metro Station, and only a five-minute walk to the Acropolis and Plaka. It offers air conditioning for the rooms, breakfast and a rooftop cafe where you can view the Parthenon.

St. George Lycabettus

This is a deluxe hotel that has its own restaurant, bar, swimming pool and more. It’s located in Kolonaki and is only a 15-minute walk to Plaka. Rates are really good if you travel in August.

The Hotel Hilton

The Hotel Hilton is a deluxe hotel with four restaurants, a health club, shops, in-house movies and more! There are many great features about this hotel, but if you stay here, you’ll have a long walk to the Plaka.

Hotel Divani Acropolis

Another hotel in the deluxe category, the Hotel Divani Acropolis offers a restaurant, great rooms, a roof garden, a pool, air conditioning and heat and conference facilities. It is only a five-minute walk to the Acropolis and the Plaka.

The Athens Central

This is a lovely hotel located in the Plaka that has been renovated to a more modern style. It offers a great view of the Acropolis and city from the roof garden and many of the rooms. The rooms have air conditioning and television. The hotel has low rates also.

Hotel Royal Olympic

The Hotel Royal Olympic is located only ten minutes from the Syntagma and the Plaka. It offers air conditioned rooms with satellite television, a restaurant and bar, a garden pool and more!

Athens Intercontinental

This is another deluxe hotel with in-house movies, a health study, shops, a bank, four restaurants, etc. It is located 20 minutes from the Plaka if you go on foot.

Museums in Athens

While in Athens, don’t forget to tour some of the city’s unique museums. Athens has museums to suit all tastes. Whether you enjoy art, culture or a modern theme, a museum awaits. Below is a list of the most popular museums in Athens.

National Archaeological Museum

The Benaki Museum

The Goulandris Museum of Cycladic and Ancient Greek Art

Kerameikos Museum

Museum of Greek Folk Art

Jewish Museum

National Gallery

National Historical Museum

Museum of Popular Musical Instruments

Byzantine Museum

War Museum

Greek Historical Costume Museum

Theatrical Museum

Frissiras Museum of Contemporary Greek and European Painting

Acropolis Museum

Athens Nightlife

Athens has a nightlife that’s constantly on the move. You’ll never grow bored during your trip. In the evenings, you can dine at fine Greek restaurants, enjoy live music, go dancing or whatever suits your fancy. There are theatrical shows and dinner theaters where you can enjoy a variety of entertainment. Much of the activity at night can be found in the Plaka, Psiri or Thission areas.

Use the information above to make the most of your visit to Athens. You can enjoy a great getaway if you plan ahead!

Touring the Museums of Greece

Greece offers hundreds of museums, whether in the main cities, on the islands or in remote villages. There are museums everywhere in Greece, and they each focus on different aspects of Greek culture and history. Below is a list of museums with a brief description of each. Be sure to visit a museum in the area of Greece you visit.

Museums in Athens, Greece

National Archaeological Museum

This museum ranks in the top ten museums in the world and offers its collection display in a lovely building near Alexandras Avenue. The museum has a cafe, gift shop and sculpture garden.

The Benaki Museum

This is a multi-floored museum with every level moving up in history. The bottom floor displays the most ancient items.

The Goulandris Museum of Cycladic and Ancient Greek Art

This Athens museum offers a great collection of old Cycladic art. It opens daily except Sundays and Tuesdays.

Kerameikos Museum

This museum is located at the ancient Athens cemetery at the bottom of Ermou. It’s just past the Monastiraki Flea Market. The museum has tombstones and pottery.

Museum of Greek Folk Art

Here you’ll find wood carvings, embroideries, jewelry and traditional folk art. There are also fabulous ceramic collections.

Jewish Museum

The Jewish Museum in Athens offers a display of artifacts and art from Jewish communities. You can also learn about the Holocaust here, which makes the visit worthwhile.

National Gallery

At the National Gallery you’ll find a terrific collection from Greek painters and also international artists, which includes some impressive sculptures.

National Historical Museum

If you love learning about the history of war, you should definitely visit the National Historical Museum. Here you’ll get to learn about the Greek War of Independence and see some fabulous artifacts from the war.

Museums on the Greek Islands

There are also some great museums on the Greek islands. Every island has its own history and culture. The museums display these differences. Here are some popular island museums along with a brief description of each.

Archaeological Museum of Chania

This museum is located in the Venetian monastery of St. Francis and offers many treasures such as prehistoric artifacts from caves, finds from the city of Chania, Minoan finds from Chania and coins and jewelry from historic times.

Archaeological Museum of Corfu

Here you’ll find interesting exhibits from the excavations of the ancient town of Corfu, Cassiopi and Thesprotia.

Archaeological Museum of Paros

This museum was founded in 1960 and offers visitors a chance to see archaic and classical sculptures as well as pottery and sculptures from the Neolithic up to the Roman period. Also, there’s a Mosaic floor that dates back to Roman days.

Archaeological Museum of Rhodes

This Rhodes museum is located in the Medieval building of the Hospital of the Knights and contains collections of classical and Roman sculptures, Mosaic floors from the Hellenistic period and more.

While in Athens, Greece you will want a cell phone for use and with the local GSM service you’ll be amazed at how much better the service is in Athens than back home. Virtually everywhere in Athens and Greece, yes even islands and mountains, is covered by superb GSM cell phone service. With a local service provider all your incoming calls are 100% free and calling the states is just $.84 / minute. Or, to be 100% sure, you can rent a satellite phone and as long as you can point it to the southern hemisphere you’ll get service across Europe. Free incoming calls day and night from every country on earth and only $1.99 to call any country, always.

For more information on renting/buying these type of phones and getting this type of super low cost service take a look at http://www.planetomni.com or call 800-514-2984 inside the States or 925-686-9945 from outside. They ship worldwide and are based in California.

Cell phone use overseas. In 99% of the world the local cellular service standard is called GSM. We use this in the states as well. When combined with a SIM CARD (which usually goes under the battery of the phone) the phone is able to communicate and the SIM CARD also holds the telephone number and memory for pre-paid credit. Rates can be extremely low using this system. For example in 99% of all SIM CARDS incoming calls are free and calls to the states can cost a trifle. Such as, from the UK to the USA 7 cents/minute, from Israel 22 cents, from Australia 27 cents. Yes, USA Dollar cents! There are today even prepaid service providers in the USA offering rates of 10 cents per minute to call anywhere in the US to any type of phone. No contracts, no credit card checks, no bills. Pre-paid always means no minimums no contracts, no obligations. You only pay for the calls made. You’ll need an unlocked GSM tri-band or quadband UNLOCKED phone. You can buy factory unlocked phones and sim cards for more than 170 or the 193 countries on earth from http://www.planetomni.com Tel. #800-514-2984

A Travel Guide to Athens, Greece

Greece, the birthplace of democracy, is a beautiful, rugged country, steeped in history. It has nearly 1600 islands, but only 170 of them are inhabited. Half of the ten million population live in Athens.

This bustling city is a good central point from which to see Greece. The white marble Parthenon on Acropolis Hill is a breathtaking sight. The Acropolis is sometimes called the sacred rock. It sits on top of a 512-foot high limestone rock and was originally built to defend the city in 1500 BC, destroyed 1000 years later, and rebuilt in 450 BC.

There are three other buildings on the site besides the Parthenon. The Erechtheum is a temple honoring Athena and Poseidon. The Propylea is a monumental gateway. To its right stands the Temple of Athena Nyke or Wingless Victory. The newest building, The Acropolis Museum, houses many works of art discovered since excavation began in 1835.

At night the Acropolis is the site of the Son-et-Lumiere, or Sound and Light show. The entrance is actually across the street from the Acropolis. The first time we tried to find it we walked around the base of the Acropolis. This seems to be a lover’s lane and it was very tempting to stay and enjoy the view in the balmy air.

The show, in English, is every night unless there is a full moon. The audience sits in chairs facing the Acropolis, which is lit up from different sides at different times in various colors to illustrate a taped narrative of the history of the Acropolis. It lasts about 30 minutes.

After this it is a short walk to the Plaka. This area is about two blocks crammed full of restaurants and cafes moving straight up the hill toward the Acropolis. It is impossible to walk through the streets without waiters appealing to you to try their restaurant: “Just look at our menu. Good prices, good food, good music, come in and look around.” They say in perfect English.

Most of the restaurants are outside, but under cover. Their bouzouki music mingles in the street. We went to a Taverna with a floorshow and although they had no cover charge there was a minimum order of at least a plate of fruit. We ordered that and it was beautifully prepared. The floorshow, with several singers, a belly dancer and volunteer dancers from the audience was very good. We also tried the famous ouzo there, an anise flavored liquor.

On the whole we found Greek food inexpensive and very tasty. Meals are always served with water and bread, although at an outdoor restaurant you will be charged for the bread. Most menus have an English translation and many places show you the food in the kitchen from which you can choose.

The custom in Greece is a light breakfast, a late lunch, dinner about 9 or 9:30 and lingering over all meals.

For breakfast we usually went to a café for coffee and a pastry. I fell in love with baklava, a rich, sticky, honey pastry that is absolutely delicious. Greek coffee, or Turkish coffee, is very strong, but you can order Nescafe or American coffee at most places. For lunches we would either go to a souvlaki shop for gyro sandwiches, have a wonderful Greek salad topped with feta cheese at a sidewalk café on Constitution Square or buy from a pastry vendor on the street. These vendors are all over and sell: tiropites (cheese pies), spanakopita (spinach pie) koulari (similar to a large bagel with sesame seeds) and piroski (bread with a sausage baked inside). We also saw many vendors selling corn on the cob and chestnuts.

A nice afternoon break is a drink at one of the many cafes on Syntagma Square. Try retsina or a cordial like Metax (a sweetish brandy) or Demestica (a fine domestic wine). Even the serving of a simple glass of lemonade was an experience. We were given a silver tray with one full glass of water, another glass with a shot of fresh lemon juice in it and sugar on the side. We were expected to make our own!

One day we went to the Athinas Street food market, which was quite an experience. We didn’t see many tourists in this section, mostly just old Greek women in widow’s garb; black scarves, black stocking and black dresses, buying their fresh dinner ingredients. Butchers chopping huge pieces of meat, burlap sacks bulging with nuts, baskets of bread, barrels of olives, strings of clove garlic, wire baskets of eggs and live hens were crowded in a lively two-block area. Greece also has the world’s finest yogurt.

Shopping in Greece is almost as much fun as eating! There is a wonderful flea market near the base of the Acropolis, which is open most of the time, even on Sundays and is so colorful! There are many good buys including: brass, copper (get a big bowl to beat your egg whites in), flakti rugs, fur coats, tiles, gold jewelry, pottery copied from museum pieces, onyx, marble, alabaster, handmade sandals and handicrafts.

There are lots of interesting museums and historical sights in the city. The admission is free on Sundays although it’s impossible to hit all of them between their open hours: 10 – 4 pm. The Acropolis is also open on weekdays from 9:00 until sunset and when there’s a full moon it opens again from 8:45 until midnight.

The Parliament Building and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is at Syntagma Square, which is the center of the life of Athens. There is a changing of the guard there at twenty minutes before every hour and at 11:00 a.m. on Sundays. Around the corner is a beautiful park, The National Gardens, where something is always going on. At the entrance, across the street from the Temple of Olympian Zeus is where all the public buses seem to meet. Each route runs every twenty minutes, twenty-four hours a day.

One of the best views of the city is from Mt. Lycabettus. You can ride a tram to the top where there’s a large area to walk around, a tiny chapel and a restaurant.

There are many beautiful beaches in Greece and Glyfada is a very nice place to enjoy Greece’s mild winters and subtropical summers.

Greece is a totally unique, enjoyable place, which shouldn’t be missed. And remember, this was only Athens! There are still 170 inhabited islands to explore!

Greek Salad

Prepare: lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, onion and black olives. Add crumbled feta cheese and toss with the following dressing:

1/3-cup white vinegar

½ teaspoon oregano

Juice of ¼ lemon

2/3-cup salad oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 clove garlic

Freshly ground pepper

Shake all ingredients and use sparingly on salad.

Dolmathes

1½ lb. chopped beef

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

½ teaspoon mint leaves

1 cup rice

1 small onion, finely chopped

Parsley flakes

Grape leaves

Boil grape leaves 15 – 30 minutes. Squeeze a few drops of lemon over entire pot during the last 10 minutes. Mix rest of the ingredients and form small oblong shapes to stuff the leaves. Cook 45 – 60 minutes in barely enough water to cover dolmathes.

Galatopoureko

½ cup farina cereal

½ cup sugar

1 stick of butter

1 quart milk

Cook above together slowly, stirring constantly, allowing to come to a full boil. When thick remove from heat and add:

½ teaspoon vanilla. Cool and add: 6 beaten eggs. Stir until smooth.

Melt 1 stick of butter in a saucepan and keep handy.

Starting with 1 sheet of phyllo in buttered baking dish, leaving 1/3 out of the edges out, sprinkle with melted butter. Take another sheet and overlap on the other side. Repeat. Fold 1 sheet in half and put in center of dish. Sprinkle with butter. Repeat twice. Add farina. Top with another folded phyllo. Bring edges to top. Cover well with butter. Repeat 3 times. Brush top with butter. Sprinkle with a few drops of water. Chill ½ hour. Score top. Chill another ½ hour. Bake ½ hour at 375 degrees. Pour cold syrup over hot galatopoureko.

Syrup: Stir below together and cook ½ hour:

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

1 slice lemon

Baklava

Grease a 13×9″ pan. In a large bowl with spoon, combine:

4 cups finely chopped walnuts

½ cup sugar

1-teaspoon cinnamon

Set aside. In pan, place 1 sheet phyllo, allowing it to extend up the sides, and brush with 1 cup melted butter. Repeat to make 5 layers, sprinkle with 1 cup walnut mixture. Cut remaining phyllo to 13×9″ pieces. Make 6 more layers and sprinkle with remaining walnuts. Cut part way through to make diamond shapes. Bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour and 25 minutes.

Heat 12 oz. honey and pour over Baklava. Cool in pan at least 1 hour.

Nancy Geiger is a freelance writer who was a travel agent for 17 years. She also owns an online store called givitup: http://www.givitup.com/ [http://www.givitup.com/?pid=4370506] and writes 2 daily blogs: What I Learned Teaching Sunday School and Starting an Online Store Called givitup.

She has recently published a cookbook called ‘A Bride’s Cookbook or Surviving the First Year’ http://www.abridescookbook.com/

Modern Athens Greece

Because of her long and glorious history it is too seldom remembered that Greece as a modern state is less than two centuries old. Though by the second Treaty of London in 1830 the Powers had sponsored the creation of the new Greek State, it was not in fact until the signing of the Treaty of Constantinople of 31st July 1832, by which the Sublime Porte acknowledged Greece as a sovereign state, that full independence was achieved.

The dream of national liberation had at last been realized, but it was a completely exhausted and bankrupt state, a country of untilled fields, burned-out villages and ravaged towns, lacking both civil and judicial administration. It was in these circumstances that Great Britain, France and Russia made Greece a loan of 60,000,000 gold francs to meet the country’s immediate needs.

Not the least of the many urgent problems that had to be solved was the establishment of a future seat of government. In addition to Nauplion, then the provisional capital, the towns of Aegina, Patras, Corinth, Missolonghi, Syros, Argos and Megara all covered the honor of being chosen as the permanent capital of the country. Athens was the obvious choice, but Turkish troops were still in possession of the Acropolis. When, however, the Turkish garrison evacuated the Acropolis early in 1833, the choice of a capital was no longer a problem; Athens was solemnly proclaimed the capital city of the kingdom on 18th September 1834.

By the close of the War of Independence Athens had almost ceased to exist. Frequent bombardments combined with nearly four centuries of occupation had reduced the most renowned city of antiquity to little more than a large village consisting of three hundred or so mean dwellings clustered for the greater part at the foot of the Acropolis on its northern side. There lived the majority of the once prosperous population, now reduced to 5,000 souls, in abject poverty in the cramped and winding streets.

Such utter desolation offered the town-planner the unique opportunity of building an entirely new city, and Edward Schaubert (1804-68) of Breslau and his life long friend and fellow architect Stamatis Cleanthes (1802-62) of Velvendos in Macedonia were commissioned to prepare plans.

The plan they submitted was based on a triangle, Odhos Stadiou and Odhos Peiraeos forming the sides and Odhos Ermou the base. Odhos Stadiou was to be prolonged beyond the triangle to the Panathenaic Stadium, while Odhos Peiraeos – as its name implies – was to connect the capital with the principal port. Within this area broad thoroughfares were projected running from north to south and east to west. The apex of the triangle was Plateia Omonias, where Schaubert and Cleanthes proposed to erect the Royal Palace.

Unfortunately land speculation and other private interests prevailed over the public good and this plan was never executed in its entirety, the many modifications being in every case detrimental to the city and its future development. Most of the projected wide thoroughfares were transformed into narrow streets and the open spaces that had been planned as public gardens were built over with the result that the majority of the streets of Athens do not conform to the needs of a modern city.

The deficiencies of modern Athens are soon forgotten in the splendor of its setting. A sun-drenched city built around the Acropolis and Mount Lycabettus, it is situated in the central plain of Attica, encircled by immemorial mountains. On the west stands Mount Aegaleo, 468 m.; on the north majestic Mount Parties, 1,411 m.; on the northeast Mount Pentelicon, 1,109 m., famous for its quarries of fine-grained white marble; on the east Mount Hymettus, 1,026 m., in antiquity celebrated equally for its marble and the incomparable honey that is still produced by the swarms of bees on its fragrant slopes, while to the south are the historic islands of Salamis and Aegina.

Fresh Hotel, Grande Bretagne and King George II Hotel are among the best luxury hotels in Athens.