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THE 24 HOUR 'HELP DESK'
Internet, holiday planning, faxing, photo download and more
Fully equipped, for you to use
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(Editor's Note: Have you seen all of the ancient sites and said to yourself 'What's next? What is there to to in this town?' Living here, in the smallest city in the world to ever host an Olympics, us locals have had to venture out to keep entertained. Our three ladies of awesome have gotten together and compiled the list of their ten favorite places/activities. You should find this 'Greatest Hits' compilation as helpful as I did. Some of these things, I didn't even know existed)
1.STROLL OLD ATHENS AT THE BASE OF THE ACROPOLIS.
Between Monastiraki and Plaka you can venture through the narrow lanes and alleys that prove not much about the center's layout has changed in 2500 years. Since no vehicles could possibly fit up there, not even those perksy scooters, venturing along white washed walls and geraniums is a guaranteed calm at the heart in a chaotic day. The further up the Acropolis hill you get, the tighter and more maze-like the paths become. This almost gives the illusion of being o the islands without ever getting a boat. There are loads of hidden tavernas, shops and churches as old Byzantium off the main and often crowded Andrianou path frequented by tourists.
2.DRINK LIKE THE GREEKS
In the summer months (and every day for that matter), Ouzo is the top drink in Greece. While most western travellers will automatically attempt to take it as a shooter, it is actually served in a tumbler with ice and water. Combining these balances the flavor and the drink begins to take on a misty appearance. On the side you usually receive traditional cheeses, olives, tzatziki (cucumber sause) which they call meze.
In the autumn and winter months you'll get the chance to experience Rakomelo. It is a warm blend of Raki, a traditional spirit form the southern Greece distilled from grape peels that are leftover from making wine, with honey and various spices. Rakomelo is only available in certain bars. We recommend a stroll through the strips of Thissio and Psirri, where you'll often find many locals doing the same.
3.SOUVLAKI & GYROS
If you are searching for kebabs, or more specifically gyro (pronounced: yee-ro), Monastiraki Square is theplce to be. This is in large part due to the busy atmosphere. It is a great place for people watching. Be sure to sit down, relax and see all of the strangeness Athens has to offer. Street mucisians, gypsies, bootleggers and all manner of entertainment. Or take your pita on the road and take the aforementioned Old Athens Stroll!
Sick of the ancient sites? Still a history nerd? Need your fix? Say no more, there are three great museums to visit and find out about Grecian history! There is a National Archeological Museum just outside of the Omonia Square metro stop, the Benaki Museum by the National Gardens nd the newly opened Acropolis Museum, outside of the Acropoli metro stop.
5.BARS OF GAZI
The Kerameikos Metro station is home to a bar strip that seems to have something for everyone's tastes. Look around and you'll find a place for rockers (Intrepid Fox), trendy industrial types (Hoxton), noir detectives (Nixon) or ashorted establishments that cater to dancers, fans of exotic dancers, people with 'alternative' lifestyles; a melting pot of nightlife. But just remember the Greeks start late (circa midnight) and party even later.
6.'FOSSICKING' THROUGH JUNK SHOPS AND SECOND HAND MARKETS
The Monastiraki flea market is not much of a flea market anymore (the end closest to the square has been overrun by boutiques), but there are some great record stores hidden in its depths. You can usually look down in either direction and see a basement entrance to one of these. There are also various places for cheap clothes, military surplus and multitudinous other gems. The real treasures however can be found on a Sunday morning when the park at the end of Ermou street turns into a busting second hand/junk market. Here you can find anything from old record players to vintage boots, household items and cheap clothing. The closest metro is Thission. Continue down Ermou street away from Monastiraki.
Another solic location is Omonia, just opposite the meat markets its the self proclaimed 'best second hand shop in Europe". This old multiple level building is bursting at the seams with all kinds of junk like records, nick-krackers, light fittings, typewriters etc.
7.COFFEE AND BACKGAMMON (TAVLI)
On Sunday mornings you can find many places to relax on wooden seats with a coffee and play some backgammon (the Greeks call it tavli). If you are feeling adventurous, you can take the metro to Dafni stop and walk several blocks over Ymittos mountain (be sure to bring a map, this is tricky but well worth it), where beneath the shade of pine trees you can see cyclists, hikers, lovers, famillies, athletes in training, musicians and old men drinking ouzo whilst playing aforementioned game.
8.OPEN AIR CINEMAS IN THE SUMMER
The great thing about summer in Athens is that it is relatively windless, hot nights, which are perfect to relax a watch a film in one of the outdoor cinemas. Here you can usually graba beer, various snacks (many staples of cinema-going such as popcorn,nachos and such) and some of these even serve souvlaki! There are a few in the costal suburb of Glyfada, as well as many spread throughout the city centre. Many of the cinemas in Athens are privetaly owned as well, which is an added bonus as they usually have a unique atmosphere about them. (Dan's note: WHAT ABOUT THE PORN CINEMA IN OMONIA???)
9.THE GREAT WALK
Streching the distance between the Acropoli and Thissio metro stops and ending at the far of the Monastiraki flea market is the Great Walk of Athens across Dionysiou Aeropagitou cobblestone path. It is a delightful and unusually peaceful stroll through ancient Athens where you will pass the Parthenon, the Acropolis Museum, Philopappou Hill and the Ancient Agora. If you veer right into the 'park' before you reach the strip of Thissio cafes and bards, you can climb up what we simply call 'the rocks' (the Areopagus) where the Athenian Council used to meet in the earliest democracy and get a spectacular panoramic view of Athens and its living history.
Though the city slows down in the winter months, tihs is the best time to catch sunsets due to the early dusk (approximately 5pm). Even though the days are colder, the weather is something more similar to autumn or spring than any kind of winter. You can also do it in the summer month, but expect more crowds. If you are a romantic, or want a quiet place to spend an evening picpic (grab a bottle (or three) of wine, some snacks and go wild). Even Byronesque poets can apply. Suggestion: take tram 5 from Syntagma Square y the city view.
Here's what the press say
The Washington Post
Road and Travel Magazine