Tag - athens

5 Reasons Why You Should Holiday in Greece

    Greece- photo credit: Vasiliki Tampouri

Greece- photo credit: Vasiliki Tampouri

There is no doubt that tourism in Greece is decreasing as each year of the financial crisis    passes. Tourists are put off travelling to Greece and its islands because of the real possibility of having flights and boats delayed due to strikes. Then of course, there are the frequent demonstrations which occur in Athens. However, there is a real need for Greece to improve its tourism figures if it is to get back on its economic feet.

I have been back in Athens for two months now and have seen how devastating this crisis has been for the poor. Homelessness is increasing as more and more Greeks can’t pay their rent. The rise of the Neo- Nazi party, Golden Dawn, is also worrying as these people appear to be thugs, with the only item on their agenda to rid Greece of immigrants, whom, they claim, are illegal migrants. Actually this is far from the truth, as many who were in Greece in the late 1990s were given amnesty and papers which meant that they have a right to live and work in Greece.

Yes, there are social problems in Greece, but it is still a wonderful holiday destination, as the islands particularly are relatively free from the problems in Athens.

1 First of all the islands and mainland of Greece are spectacular and well-worth visiting once in a lifetime at least. You may, like me and many other Grecophiles, begin to love the country and its people and end up going back to Greece year after year.

2 Secondly, Greece is the “cradle of democracy” and arguably of civilization in Europe. The Parthenon on top of the Acropolis in Athens is a marvel of ancient engineering, and it offers a spectacular view of the city from the top. The Philippapos hill does too, and is less of a climb.

3 The island of Crete has Festos and the palace of Minos at Knossos for those interested in Archaeology and the Archaeological museum in the capital, Heraklion houses many artifacts from the Minoan civilization. You can fly direct to Crete from April onwards, but the island is also served well with domestic flights.

4 The Cycladic islands are the jewels of the Aegean, with their picturesque white-washed buildings with blue window shutters. The most well-known are Mykonos, Santorini and Ios, but there are other lesser known islands in the group such as Naxos, Amorgos, Paros, Anti-Paros, Milos and Syros (the administrative capital of the Cyclades). All the islands have special characteristics for you to discover.

5 From the beautiful islands in the Dodecanese, Rhodes, Chios, Samos and so on, you can take a short boat trip and explore places such as Kusadasi and Ephesus in Turkey.

You can buy your visa at the point of entry into Turkey if you have a European passport, or a North American one. It is best to check visa requirements for other passport holders before you head to one of these Turkish resorts however. for more info visit the website.

Contemporary Greek Art Flourishing in spite of Crisis

    Greek Art, By Spiros Amerikanos

Greek Art, By Spiros Amerikanos

There is no doubt that Greece is suffering under the austerity measures brought about by the debt crisis. However, artists still struggle to display their works, although they have little realistic hope that their works will sell. This was the backdrop to the fifth exhibition of Technosfaira (an association of Greek artists, which includes painters, musicians, poets, authors and dancers and so on).

The exhibition was mounted at the “Flizvos” cultural centre in Paleo Faliro, Athens, Greece and was very well attended, especially in the evenings, as every evening saw a different performance. The building itself is round, and was a lighthouse, so is very close to the sea. The paintings were displayed on both floors of this building, with the larger canvasses hung on the second floor.

There were examples of many different genres of art, from the dreamy realism of Vasiliki Tambouri’s harbour scene to the abstract works of Spiros Amerikanos, and the symbolism found in the works of Vasileios Arapis, and the larger work which Vasiliki Tambouri also displayed. There were also examples of religious paintings, iconography, portraits and new takes on traditional Greek scenes. Donna Roumeli took inspiration from mythology for her painting, “Gaia” which is one in her series of works of Greek goddesses.

Technosfaira  mounts exhibitions every three months, and has done so since its inception. It began with Vasiliki Tambouri, its president, who had cherished a dream for many years of establishing a community of artists who could work together and take Art to more and more people, while sharing the ideal of people living in peace and harmony. Technosfaira is her first attempt to realize her long-held dream.

Certainly the fifth exhibition had something to appeal to everyone during the week it was held. There were singers, a belly-dancer, pianists and a whole host of others who read their poems and parts of their books. It was gratifying to see so many people attending such an exhibition every evening. There were paintings which appealed to virtually all tastes and for once there was no central theme to the exhibition which was called “Free Voices.”

Some of the paintings symbolized the crisis and the feeling that the artists’ beloved Greece is being ravaged. Red, the colour of blood dominated those paintings and others were black and dark, but with a central inner light of hope. The artists are the antithesis of the neo-fascist movement in Greece.

If you are thinking of a holiday in Greece, and appreciate art, you could check the Technosfaira Omada’s Facebook page as well as www.vtambouri.blogspot.com, which will both give details of forthcoming exhibitions.

For more information on Technosfaira in English, there is an article on Suite101’s website which will explain it in more detail.

Take a Break in Athens in Spring

Athens, Cr-athens.com

Athens, Cr-athens.com

Athens is a great place to visit although in summer it is too touristy for my liking, full of day trippers from the cruise boats that moor in the port of Piraeus which is almost an extension of the capital city of Greece now.

The Acropolis

Athens is an amazing city, with the Acropolis beaming down benignly on the activity below. If you ever get the chance to see a concert in the Herodion theatre just under the Parthenon, grab it with both hands as its an experience not to be missed. The ancient theatre is full of atmosphere and is especially wonderful on nights when the moon is full. Even during the day the view from the Acropolis is magnificent, with views over the whole city. (The Acropolis museum is not to be missed too; it’s the new building nestling at the foot of the Acropolis hill.) You can also see it almost from wherever you are in Athens, f you know which direction to look in. Some locals say that it has a magnetism that can’t be avoided- but you have to experience whether or not that is so for yourself.

Other Museums and sights not to be missed

The Benaki museum and the National Archaeological museum are two that you shouldn’t miss on a trip to Athens. As Greece has a rich history going far back to the Minoan civilization, the artifacts and jewellery in these museums are really worth visiting. Athens is also home to a national movement in the Arts, Technosphera, begun by an artist, Vassiliki Tambouri, and which is part of the fulfillment of her dream of creating an artists’ community which aims to develop the creativity of others. You can visit her website for details.

Shopping  and eating out

During the day Athens is a bustling city like any other, but with a charm all of its own, especially in the Plaka area which is packed with souvenir shops, cafes and tavernas (restaurants) where you can sit and people-watch to your heart’s content, as tourists and locals mingle as they walk along the marble streets. (Be careful if it has rained.) Take a walk down Kidathenaeion Street where there is a Children’s Museum as well as a selection of Greek tavernas, my favourite being the Plaka Taverna, although Byzantino is pretty good too – they are neighbours.

There are the multi-national shopping chains as well as Greek department stores where you can literally shop til you drop in the streets opposite the Parliament building in Syntagma Square.

The James Joyce (Irish bar with good food) is a great place to rest after visiting the Sunday flea market in Monastaraki, and you can find this at Astingos 12. This used to be a great place for a bargain, but prices have gone up in recent years and you have to be prepared to haggle.

The “Athenian Riviera”

If you want to escape the city you can head for the Athenian Riviera which starts at Glyfada, and the beach at Vouliagmenos is a good place to sun-worship. Take the tram or a bus from central Athens. You can watch the sunset at Sounio, through or from the temple of Apollo on the hill and then take a stroll on the beach. If you are lucky you may see dolphins in the little bay.

In Glyfada you can relax in Molly Malone’s and even grab a pint of English or Irish beer at Yiannitsopoulou 8, and if you are in Voula the Blue Parrot is worth finding, at Poseidonos 16-20.

Places to stay

In Plaka there are is the students’ hostel in Kidathenaeion Street next door to the Plaka taverna, which is one of the cheapest places and right in the heart of this area with its 18th century Neo-classical buildings which have had a much-needed facelift in recent years. Close by is the Hotel Nefeli which is a family run hotel and good value. Others in the area range from the very cheap to the very expensive.

Athens is a great city to visit off-season and this year you could celebrate Greek Easter if you are there around the 15th of April. Book your seats now and enjoy your stay.

Copyright L Evens, more about the Author Lynn Evens

Choosing a European Destination

Paris, European destinations

Paris, European destinations

Which Capital City Should You Visit Next?
Answer these five questions to get a better idea of where you should go on your next European adventure.
Local Signature Foods

Which of these dishes sounds most appealing to you?*

  •  A. Spinach and feta cheese baked into a thin, flaky pastry.
  • B. A baked potato coated in melted cheese and the goodies of your choice.
  • C. A very thin pancake rolled up and filled with sweet flavoring
  • D. Thin tubes of pasta with tomato sauce mixed with vodka and cream
  • E. A thin cut of meat coated with fried bread crumbs
How to Spend Your Time

Describe your perfect day:

  • A. Taking a boat to an island not far from the city
  • B. Touring the town in a double-decker bus and doing some shopping
  • C. Strolling along the river and hitting some art museums
  • D. Running into ancient ruins everywhere you turn, not knowing where to look
  • E. Walking through parks, sampling chocolate cake, and listening to some classical music
Notable Personalities Associated with the City

Who, of these historical figures, sounds like the most interesting (and mysterious) to learn about?**

  • A. A man who expanded an empire at a young age and died in his prime
  • B. A king who had multiple wives and sent some of them to the chopping block
  • C. A power-hungry emperor who took over Europe and was sent into exile
  • D. An emperor who was betrayed—and murdered—by those closest to him
  • E. A crown prince whose death at his hunting lodge remains a mystery to this day
Choose Your Cityscape

Which of these sounds like the ideal environment for you?

  • A. An old city that looks like it’s been whitewashed, with a beautiful ancient central focal point and sparkling blue water nearby
  • B. A busy, bustling metropolis full of gothic architecture, posh shops, royalty, and medieval history galore
  • C. A romantic capital, with beautiful churches, a wide, winding river crisscrossed by many bridges, and infamous national monuments
  • D. A sprawling metropolis with the perfect blend of ancient, medieval, and renaissance architecture
  • E. A quieter city with beautiful parks, gothic spires that pierce the sky, and multiple palaces, most of which contain museums
Most Appealing Weather Patterns

Choose the type of weather you can handle:

  • A. Mild and dry, with a sea breeze
  • B. Rainy, cool, and foggy
  • C. Four seasons, but still somewhat mild
  • D. Mild and dry, and very hot in the summer
  • E. Four distinct seasons, but with a whole lot of wind
Calculate Your Results

Add up the number of As, Bs, Cs, Ds, and Es, and see which city is the best fit:

  • Mostly As: You should check out Athens.
  • Mostly Bs: London’s the place for you.
  • Mostly Cs: You belong in Paris.
  • Mostly Ds: Rome is perfect for your next destination.
  • Mostly Es: You will love a holiday in Vienna.

Now find out what the food is really called, and who
the historical figures actually were:

*Spanakopita, jacket potato, crêpe, penne alla vodka, Wienerschnitzel

**Alexander the Great, Henry VIII, Napoleon Bonaparte, Julius Caesar, Crown Prince Rudolf

And in the event of a tie, why not check out each of your top cities? Europe’s rail system is intricate enough to do so easily!