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“Getting started in Athens”
Review of Athens

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Montreal, Canada
Level 5 Contributor
89 reviews
77 helpful votes
“Getting started in Athens”
Reviewed 21 May 2010

What is it that the Chinese are supposed to have said? "May you live in interesting times!"
By now you must have read about, or seen on TV, the demonstrations and riots in Athens. The nationwide, general strike on Wednesday shut down the entire country and resulted in my inbound flight, along with hundreds of others, being canceled. Apparently, it also resulted in three poor, innocent souls dying in a burning building while the crowd outside protested. I did ultimately arrive early Thursday and soon after witnessed the burned-out shell of the five-storey bank in question and the charred remains of a car parked in front. Later, when visiting the Acropolis before sunset we could hear the start of Thursday's demonstrations echoing between the buildings and then up through the smoggy air from Syntagma Square below, a kilometer away. Were there 10,000 or 100,000 people marching, shouting, demanding to have their 2 months of annual vacation pay re-instated, I could not see, I could not say?
Not normally one to shy away from exaggeration and hyperbole, I must admit that the average traveler in Athens is not affected, much less aware of these ongoing, historic events. The cafes and restaurants in The Plaka are still bustling with tourists, drinking ouzo and retsina, which accompany their pikilias and Saganaki shrimp entrees. (What other nation would consider cooking giant shrimps with feta cheese in a tomato sauce?) The bouzouki players and singers continue to entertain and it would seem that the demonstrators know better than to upset the one sure source of foreign currency and so The Plaka is never on the marchers' route.
Hugging the base of the Acropolis's east face, the Plaka is quintessential Athens. A maze of restaurants with tasty traditional food at reasonable prices, all flavours of Greek wine and spirits, and smoking allowed everywhere as here the no smoking laws are flouted with indifference. Every 'taverna' has a stunning box seat view of the Acropolis, which at night is all the more spectacular as the Parthenon is lit up against the black sky. Most establishments offer a rooftop garden but I recommend dining al fresco at street level as all the alleys are closed to cars and the tables from one spot spill over onto those of the next. Here's a tip for your next visit: The best restaurants are the ones on the cross-streets -- these are the alleys paved in stone that climb up steeply towards the Acropolis -- where a party atmosphere prevails.
If you are a graffiti artist, I recommend that you stay away from Athens. Try as I did, I could not find any side of any building, nor fence, nor overpass unblemished by graffiti. The artists must be very frustrated with no fresh canvass available. Across the street from my hotel, the owner was painting over his façade -- I cannot guess why as it unlikely to stay immaculate more than a few days! It is my only disparaging comment about this once-great city, unfortunately the graffiti is ubiquitous.
If you arrive in Athens, but somehow have forgotten your sunglasses, no worries! On every corner, or so it seems, there are African immigrants selling sunglasses, as well as counterfeit Louis Vuiton bags, watches and any number of useless tchotchkas. With tourist high season fast approaching, I can guess that even the cheap, the fake and the pointless will all find willing buyers. Here's hoping that there's nothing pointless taking place in your life...

7 Thank Guliverstravels
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level 2 Contributor
8 reviews
7 helpful votes
“Is travel to Greece safe in this economic crisis?”
Reviewed 6 May 2010

Please give me your thoughts. We are leaving June 30 for Athens and a small ship cruise thru the Cyladic Islands.

4 Thank Darla1953_10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Aldershot, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
28 reviews
26 helpful votes
“City in Turmoil”
Reviewed 4 May 2010

We have just returned from a 5-day city break to Athens, a city in turmoil. Although there was a heavy police presence around Athens with police in full riot gear, shields and batons, thankfully we did not see any demonstrations or riots. We spent our time, visiting the Acropoli, Parthenon and other archeological sites around the city, visited Mount Liccabettus for the panoramic view of Athens (fab) and visited Cape Sounion on the Attica coast.. The downside was in terms of the City Sightseeing bus which we decided to join to get to the National Archeological and Benaki Museums. Unfortunately the tour guide failed to tell us that all museums close at 3 p.m. (we arrived at 2.30 p.m.). We were not amused and decided to board the bus across the street to go elsewhere. The bus did not arrive - we waited for one and half hours and wasted the rest of the afternoon, There was a Metro strike, and the traffic was absolutely chaotic, - all taxis were full. We decided to walk back to our hotel in Athinas (a rather grimey graffiti covered commercial street), past the prostitutes touting for business and the drug addicts laying on the pavement in Omonia Square - what a dreadful place. Its such a shame that parts of Athens have been totally trashed and that the dregs of society have moved in. Some areas had undergone a facelift for the Olympics, including the Metro, but I was really surprised that the central part of Athens was in such a bad state, not a place for tourists!! Apart from all this the tavernas and restaurants were really great around Monastiraki and the Plaka, our hotel (Attalos Hotel) was central and clean, and the hotel staff were very helpful and informative.

5 Thank AshValeSophie123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Palm Beach, Florida
Level 3 Contributor
7 reviews
9 helpful votes
“One of my favorite places in Athens.”
Reviewed 24 April 2010

I enjoyed our shopping Experiences and the good food located in the Placa. Not sure of the spelling but it is pronounced like i have spelled. it We were there numeropus times during our Tour and it was our favorite place to be for lunch and just shopping and enjoying the elegant residences and people at the far end of the Plaza. The prices were reasonable and the people very nice. We are going to be there again for a few days and this time we will find hotel accomodations close by. The prices will be a little higher than in the hotel we stayed in down town ( I cqn't remember the name of the hotel) in the city but it wasn't a memorable hotel. the Placa has a lot fto offer when uou get tired of visiting the ruins.and just a down hill walk from the Acroppolis. . Please excuse my spelling and my lack of knowledge on the correct spelling of the attractions.but the rhings we experinced while visting the Placa
Were memorable qnd enjoyabvle. I wish I could remember the name of the little restaurant down on the end of the Placa by the old church but it was above average. I'm looking forward to our next viasit in September another cruise of the Greek Isles and Turkey. I have a klot of taPE OF THIS LOCATION IF ANYONE IS INTERESTED. CONTACT ME BY E-MAIL AT:handr92@yahool.com

5 Thank BobHand
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level 3 Contributor
21 reviews
19 helpful votes
Reviewed 21 April 2010

I took my 87 yr old mother, my sister (who had just spent 2 months working in Haiti) & my 23 yr old niece to athens for a 3 day break.
Basically you dont want to be there any longer as there isnt that much to see.
Pickpockets abound!!! on the first day my sister had her mobile phone stolen & my mother her purse, not a good start. Having said which we did enjoy the sites & the weather, we went just before Easter.
The public transport system is good but not safe. I was going up the Metro escalator & felt my over shoulder bag quivering. turned around to find a well dressed lady had put her coat over my handbag & obviously had her hand inside.
My mother thinks her purse was stolen when we were on a crowded bus & my sister has no idea. we all carried bags over neck & shoulder, so they are very good pickpockets! Consequently we then took taxis. You have no idea what a taxi driver will charge you & if you ask them first they cant answer. " journeys we did were completely different prices.
We stayed at BW museum which was fine for a short break & the best thing was we had loads of policemen outside.
Good place for just a weekend but beware public transport!

3 Thank sidmouthdevon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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