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Athens > Not just nightclubs and Acropolis August 4, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece Athens, Tourism.
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Hoteliers say the city should do more about attracting tourists with so much vibrant contemporary culture in the Greek capital

athens_culture.jpg  Rarely are foreign journalists invited to cover cultural events such as the program of the Athens Festival at the historic Herod Atticus Theater or other important cultural events. Often tourists have no information about what events are on in town.

In a recent survey of tourists’ impressions of post-Olympic Athens as represented in popular foreign-language tour guides, there was plenty of coverage of archaeological sites and museums. However, the city’s modern culture was almost completely absent, as if tourists were visiting a country that had only tavernas and bouzouki clubs.

The only exceptions were brief references to the Greek cinema industry and directors such as Theo Angelopoulos, Tasos Boulmetis and Pantelis Voulgaris. The only Greek singers mentioned were Alkistis Protopsalti, Eleftheria Arvanitaki and Savina Yannatou. There was no mention of artists, after all, the Museum of Modern Art is not yet completed. Meanwhile, very few contemporary writers have been translated into foreign languages and become known abroad.

Foreign visitors to Greece have been given no idea of what the country has to offer in terms of contemporary culture, and not much is done to enlighten them once they are here.

Directors of three major hotels in the city say that Greek cultural organizations, from the Museums to the Athens Festival, have not developed an appropriate system for promoting their work. People on a two-day visit see the Acropolis and Ancient Agora and perhaps go to a nightclub. But if Athens is to be marketed more effectively, it will have to show that it has something more than the Dionysiou Areopagitou pedestrian zone.

Nightlife in Athens July 31, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece Athens.
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Athens is famous for its vibrant nightlife. The Athenians like to party and will do so almost every night of the week.

The choices are many and they appeal to all tastes and lifestyles. In general, things get started pretty late, after midnight for bars and clubbing and after 10pm for dinner at the city’s tavernas, restaurants and bar-restaurants.

The Greeks are known for their love-of-life lifestyle, a sort of OPA! mentality that includes good food and good company, regardless of age. In Athens, life is for living and leaving your worries behind. The result is a good-hearted, energetic city with bars and restaurants to match. Hip areas include Gazi, Psirri, Kerameikos and Kolonaki. Traditional Greek evenings can be spent in Plaka.

athens_nightlife.jpg  Bars and clubs > Athens is one of the best parties in the house! Glance at the list of guest DJ’s that spin the latest tunes and you’ll see that the Athens nightlife scene is one of Europe’s hottest. Local Greek DJ’s have emerged, gaining international recognition for their mixes that include foreign and Greek top hits.

The party lasts into the wee hours of the morning, as native Athenians and visitors dance, dance, dance. Athens is just overflowing with modern, bohemian, ethnic, Latin, dance, rock, fashion and mainstream bars, lounges and clubs.

Jazz is very big in Athens, too, and enjoys a strong repertoire of performers and venues that feature them. Karaoke bars have recently sprung up and offer an alternative fun night out. Especially popular are the restaurants and bars with Oriental and other types of ethnic music.

A unique cultural phenomenon in Athenian nightlife is the migrating of venues according to season. In Athens, one venue or club usually has two “homes” or addresses, a summer home and a winter home. Some time in October, the venues usually move back to their winter homes, which are often in the centre of Athens.

The streets of Gazi and Psirri are packed with people ready to enjoy the areas’ many restaurants, bars, clubs, art galleries and theatres. Summer or winter, the clubs host leading DJs and feature the latest and greatest in their genre, hip hop, R&B, soul, rap disco, funk, rock and Greek.

Many of the summer venues are located on the outskirts of Athens along the coast in Glyfada, Voula and Vouliagmeni, taking advantage of the breathtaking sea views. The popularity of the coastal clubs doesn’t mean the fun stops in the centre, though. Gazi and Psirri are hot nightlife destinations all year round.

Greek nightclubs > To truly experience modern Athenian nightlife, you should spend a few hours at a Greek nightclub with live Greek music. The levels vary from mellow to extreme. In the winter, leading Greek pop singers fill large halls along the industrial strip known as Iera Odos and Pireos Street and in the summer months along the coastal towns of Glyfada, Voula and Voulgiameni. Here patrons are part of the fun, dancing on the stage and on the tables until the wee hours. Laid-back evenings can be enjoyed at the many rebetadika in Psirri and Plaka.

Psirri > If you enjoy going out at night, Psirri is a must to visit. Some of Athens’ hottest clubs and bars are here. Large and small, they play all types of music from Greek, rock, ethnic, Latin, pop and jazz. Psirri has become an Athenian favourite. It offers artistically designed venues with good food, great music and an overall ambiance.

Gazi > A modern take on Athens would not be complete without a visit to the industrial district of Gazi. Most of the galleries, mainstream bars, restaurants, clubs and Greek nightclubs here are trademarked by their industrial design as many of them are housed in remodeled factories. In recent years, this area has developed into one of the hippest Athenian neighbourhoods. The area, and its new inhabitants of artists, has attracted fine restaurants frequented by the see-and-be-seen Athenians.

Kolonaki > This popular Athens neighbourhood is where you will find contemporary style eateries, in addition to buzzing all-day tavernas, grills, bars and an esplanade of outdoor cafés, perfect for people watching or relaxing after taking in the delightful shops. Kolonaki is a staple dining and entertainment destination catering to the city’s urban working professionals who enjoy an after work cocktail at many of its bars that are open, and busy, until after midnight, even on weekdays. The area’s many restaurants range from the affordable to the expensive, with Greek and international menus. The clubs here are also very chic. Some of the streets where the trendy bars are plentiful are Haritos and Skoufa.

Exarcheia > Exarcheia is where to go for smaller more bohemian style haunts that cater to artists and college students. At the foot of Lofou tou Strefi, the Strefi Hill, is where you will find most of the bars and clubs, many which play rock music.

For more information about Athens visit > www.athenstourism.gr

Life in Athens > July’s last weekend July 30, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Greece Athens, Lifestyle.
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presidential_guard.jpg  The Presidential Guard > Hundreds of tourists watch the changing of the Presidential Guard in front of Parliament on Sunday 29 July, 2007, taking advantage of the slightly cooler temperature in central Athens after last week’s heat wave.

Weathermen have forecast high temperatures for this week too but do not expect it to be as hot as last week. The highest temperature in Greece this week is not expected to exceed 40C (104F).

french_dance.jpg  Members of the French Dance Troupe > Members of the French dance troupe Pockemon Crew perform at Technopolis in Gazi, central Athens, on Saturday 28 July, 2007, as part of the Hellenic Festival, which has seen a number of foreign artists display their talents in the city this summer.

The Pockemon Crew are a French hip-hop dance group from Lyon. They were crowned European Champions in 2004.

Attica to get its own aquarium July 28, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Museums, Greece Athens.
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Attica could soon get its own major aquarium, to match those on Rhodes and Crete, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said yesterday when he visited the headquarters of the Hellenic Center for Marine Research (HCMR) at Anavyssos, east of Athens.

It emerged last year that the Ministry has given the green light for the construction of an aquarium at Palaio Faliron, in southern Athens. According to the plans, the aquarium park will cover 6,500 square meters. Sioufas did not say when the aquarium will be built.

Life in Athens > on a Sunday July 23, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece Athens, Greek Culture Heritage.
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athens_acropolis1.jpg  Sunset at the Sacred Rock of the Acropolis. Pictured is the Erechthion with the famous Karyatides statues. On Sunday 15th July, 2007.

athens_acropolis2.jpg  Evzones, the elite Presidential Guard, marching infront of the Parthenon at the Sacred Rock of the Acropolis, before the lowering of the Greek flag ceremony. On Sunday 15th July, 2007.

Photo Credits and Copyright > AthensNewsAgency-MacedonianNewsAgency/Orestis Panayiotou. All rights reserved.

Athens welcomes her visitors July 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece Athens, Greek Taste Local, Hotels Greece.
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Are you looking for a hotel in a nice area of Athens as well as an authentic Greek place for food and entertainment?

In Athens, visitors can find traditional Greek, horiatiki, salad, ouzo and a comfortable bed for the night within a walking distance from the Acropolis. Everything a traveler needs, from hotels, food, entertainment and shopping to Museums and archaeological sites, is within walking distance of Syntagma Square.

The famous Syntagma Square is near some of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, such as the Plaka and Psiri, and most iconic attractions, including the Acropolis and the Herod of Atticus Theater.

For three-star hotels in the area, we recommend the Hotel Cypria, tel 210 3238034, www.athenscypria.com, which has Aphrodite’s Bar next door; the Arion Hotel, tel 210 3240415, www.arionhotel.gr in Psiri; the Athens Central Hotel, tel 210 3234357, www.centralhotel.gr, where select rooms have views of the Acropolis; the Hotel Acropolis Select, tel 210 9211610, www.acropoliselect.gr, which boasts Italian furnishings and art inspired by ancient Greece; and the Hotel Philippos, tel 210 9223611, www.philipposhotel.gr, whose modern rooms are steps from the Acropolis.

For dining out, our picks include the Plaka Restaurant, Kidathineon and Geronta Streets, Plaka, which specializes in Greek oven dishes; Paradosiako, an ouzerie at Voulis and Nikodimou Streets that prepares a curry-flavored sausage called soutzouki and a top-notch Greek salad; and Taverna Tou Psiri, 12 Aeschylou Street, which has one of the best lamb chops in town.

To hear Greek music, we suggest Perivoli Tou Ouranou Club, 19 Lysicratous Street, Plaka, or swing by a bouzoukia night club for a lively club scene.

My kind of town: Athens, as seen by a British visitor June 11, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece Athens, Testimonials.
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Paul Johnston loves Athens for its frenetic energy and capacity to surprise

Why Athens? > I first came in 1976 to work as a tour guide and now spend much of each year in the city. Back then, I was a Classicist, entranced by glimpses of ancient columns between streets. Soon, I became fascinated by the modern city and its people. I grew up in Edinburgh, the Athens of the North, and fitted surprisingly easily into what was an exotic place, with palm trees, coconut vendors, and a distinctly Middle Eastern air. The city has inevitably been Westernised, but it still has the capacity to surprise.

The new Metro is world-class, as is the airport. Athens has a frenetic energy, not ideal for long stays, but great for short breaks. I love the topography of the city. Walk or take the teleferik (funicular railway) up Lykavittos Hill for stunning views of the Acropolis, the mountains that cradle the city, and the restless, shade-shifting blue of the Aegean. But the small things also stay with you, the ubiquitous periptera (kiosks) festooned with newspapers, the smell of bitter-orange blossom in spring, and the lilting melodies of street musicians.

What do you miss most when you’re away? > The weather. Apart from the inferno of high summer, Athens is comfortably warm and dry. There are often refreshing, northerly breezes. Blue skies are the norm, even in winter.

What’s the first thing you do on arrival? > Drink a large glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, nectar of the ancient gods.

Where’s the best place to stay? > The refurbished Museum Hotel (16 Bouboulinas Street; 0030 210 3805611; www.hotelmuseum.gr; from £40) is next to the National Archeological Museum, as well as round the corner from the lively Exarcheia Square.

Where would you meet friends for a drink? > There are numerous cafés and bars in Exarcheia Square, the haunt of students, anarchists and arty types. The quietest is Vox, with its own bookshop. Kolonaki Square is Exarcheia’s mirror-image, business people, diplomats, the gilded youth, and inflated prices. Not my cup of Greek coffee.

Where is your favourite place for lunch? > The old-style mageireio, where you inspect the food before ordering, is dying out. A good one is To Diethnes in Nikitara Street, off Themistokleous Street and near Omonia Square. Although the waiters wear white jackets, it’s not the kind of place that does reservations.

And for dinner? > The best-known souvlaki place is Baïraktaris in Monastiraki Square, (210 3213036), with outdoor seating year-round. An excellent old-fashioned ouzeri is To Athinaïkon (2 Themistokleous Street, near Omonia Square; 210 3838485).

Greeks pay more attention to food than drink and you don’t have to order ouzo, there’s good wine from the barrel. More up-market for mezedhes, the variety of starters that easily becomes a whole meal, is Alexandra (Alexandras Avenue and 21 Zonara Street; 210 6420874).

Where would you send a first-time visitor? > The Acropolis and the National Archeological Museum. The Kerameikos, the city’s ancient cemetery, is a contrasting place of calm (Ermou Street, near Thission metro station).

What would you tell them to avoid? > Fish restaurants on the coast, plus nightclubs, they are ludicrously expensive.

Public transport or taxi? > Both. The Metro, suburban railway lines, trams and buses are cheap and reliable: you buy tickets in advance from a kiosk and cancel them on board. Taxis are good value, just make sure the driver starts the meter when you get in.

Handbag or money belt? > Athens is pretty safe, apart from the backstreets around Omonia Square late at night. As in any city, don’t flaunt it. Pickpockets do operate, particularly in tourist hotspots like the Flea Market in Monastiraki.

What should I take home? > Five or seven-star Metaxas brandy is good, as long as you aren’t expecting Cognac-quality. You can find traditional Greek cheeses, cured meats, vine-leaves, olives, and olive oil in any supermarket, as well as at the airport. Don’t be shocked if prices are on a par with those back home. The cost of living in Greece has risen drastically.

And if i’ve only time for one shop? > Politeia Bookshop (Asklipiou 1-3 and Akadimias Streets) has discounted prices and a good selection of English books. There are also high-quality coffee-table books covering many aspects of Greece and the Greeks.

Paul Johnston has been visiting Greece for more than 30 years. His latest crime novel, The Death List, (Mira, £6.99) is out on Friday 15th June 2007.

Source and Copyright > The Telegraph, United Kingdom.