Greece
Athens

Here you’ll find travel reports about Athens. Discover travel destinations in Greece of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

106 travelers at this place:

  • Day21

    Arrival in Greece

    May 18 in Greece

    Getting through Tel Aviv airport yesterday was a long and rather wearying process, made more complex by the fact that there 19 of us trying to vaguely hang together through the check in and security procedures. When we were all nearly through, it then appeared that Mike had lost his boarding pass, although it later turned out that amidst the business of sorting out his overweight baggage, he had somehow never been given one, so that meant some backtracking and extra hassle for him and Patsy. Quite a relief when we all were finally gathered at the departure gate.
    (Incidentally, random fact about Tel Aviv airport that I quite liked - the toilets had a sort of treadle flush mechanism, that seemed sensible and hygienic. Have never seen that before.)

    The flight to Athens was a bit delayed too, so it was around 11pm when the tired pilgrims finally landed in Greece. Happily, our Greek tour liaison, Christina, was there to meet us, and the luggage didn't take much time to come through, so we were on the road before too long. The airport is 35 km from the city, so it still made for a nearly midnight arrival at the Royal Olympic Hotel. Room keys were rapidly distributed, Mike found his guitar and we made our weary way to the lifts to the strains of 'The day though gavest, Lord, has ended' which he likes to have us sing somewhere at the close of most days. I was very grateful that it had ended and that there was a very comfortable bed awaiting me!
    Now it is early on Friday morning, and we are to be having a tour of Athens starting at 9am.

    This feels like the grandest hotel we have stayed in so far so I am quite enjoying pretending I am a Greek princess and soaking it all up.
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  • Day22

    Athens

    May 19 in Greece

    This morning, we had a tour of the Acropolis by our new guide, Andronikos. I had been able to see the Parthenon from my breakfast table, but because we went in the bus , I hadn't realised how close it was to our hotel, till I went out for a walk on my own this afternoon. Andronikos has a degree in history and an obvious love for his country and is proving a great guide thus far. From the Acropolis he look us across the road to Mars Hill, where Paul preached his famous sermon. Before we went up there ourselves, Mike had us read the sermon aloud from Acts 17. Up on top he pulled out his guitar and we were back into the travelling minstrels routine again. (This time it was 'Put your hand in the hand of the man who stilled the waters'). As is often (but not universally!) the case, we got a great reception from the other tour group up there, who were soon clapping along with us. They turned out to be from Argentina, so Mike persuaded them to sing to us in Spanish, which they did. (Music has proved to be a wonderful cross-cultural and cross-linguistic unifier on several occasions so far during this trip.) We parted with a few closing pleasantries about the All Blacks and 'Los Pumas'.

    Andro then took us to the Acropolis Museum nearby, a huge, relatively new building which exclusively houses relics from the Acropolis site. There was far too much to see in the hour we had there, so he took us to a few exhibits and filled them out with background information, which was really helpful and made the visit much more worthwhile than if we had been wandering around on our own, which I think would have been a bit overwhelming.

    We were back at the hotel by three, and it has been good to have the rest of the afternoon free. I took the opportunity for a bit of exploration by myself down a long pedestrian plaza which runs alongside the periphery of the areopagus and acropolis precincts. There was lots of little souvenir and jewellery and craft stalls to browse all along the way.

    Tonight we are eating at a nearby restaurant, and tomorrow we head to Corinth. I am glad that we will have another free day in Athens later on as I think there is plenty more to explore.

    (Only fault I can find with this otherwise lovely hotel is that it doesn't have tea-making facilities in the rooms. Probably not designed with kiwis in mind as target patrons.)
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  • Day3

    Got out of Embassy with my new passport at 11:40. caught a taxi for 4 euros to the museum. Young English speaking driver. Caught the tour just in time. Will return to visit the Acropolis on Saturday on our last day. Took a break to have some tasty salads in the museum. Then took some time to wander Thru the Plaka (big tourist area below the Acropolis - lots of shops, cafes, etc - lot of outdoor dining venues) with our tour guide to a small place offering delicious baklava (best I've ever had) and Greek coffee ( not a fan of it). Afterwards Janet and I wandered the area on our own for a few hours finally finding a rooftop terrace restaurant at Public, a huge super electronics/bookstore/restaurant overlooking Syntagma Square where we had a view of the parliament building in the background and the changing of the guard. Had a tasty avocado bruschetta with poached egg on top - tasty. Got chilly so headed down to get a closer look at the guards. (See video). We decided to hoof the one mile back to the hotel. Now we have to get our stuff ready for the motor coach tour. Sure is a relief to have the passport fiasco behind me. Astounding how bad the pickpocket situation is here. . Had another member of our group almost have his pocket picked in the metro today. Some good advice here (and yep, I went to this particular police station) . http://muslimtravelgirl.boardingarea.com/what-to-do-if-you-get-pickpocket-in-athens-greece/. Also, and something I didn’t even think about was contacting Allianz who provided me with travel insurance in helping me out with my situation. Gate1 did the same thing and even took the further step of escorting me to these places personally. It will be interesting to see if Allianz will cover the cost of replacing a stolen passport or any phone calls necessary to cancel cards, etc. That’s probably in the fine print somewhere. I noticed in the link above that the girl suggested cancelling the cards using Skype, which is excellent advice. In my rush to shut mine down, I called the 800 number directly so it will be interesting to see what those calls are going to cost me. There was probably some international phone number I was supposed to call. (I do have Verizon’s $10/day Travel Pass plan, which after reading a bit further should cover those phone calls which is nice and as it turns out, the Travel Pass does cover all these international calls).Read more

  • Day8

    Starting off with a Greek salad (delicious), followed by grilled Breem, mousaka and a tiny cup of yogurt with quince jam ( on the house).

    Going to bed at 9 to grab 3 hrs of sleep before catching an Uber to Syntagma Square where we will catch the bus for 6 euros each to make it to the airport around 3 am or so the plan goes. Now we will see if the Uber driver shows. Flight boards at 5:30 am for München. 5 hr layover there. Ouch!!Read more

  • Day2

    Eat with

    March 11 in Greece

    So Demetrius from Gate 1 picked us up about 9 this morning to go to the police station. We rode the metro since he doesn’t own a car. Got to the station. Took about 10 minutes to process a report with the police. Afterwards we took the metro to the Plaka area at the bottom of the Acropolis (Figured without a passport, credit cards or cash, they couldn't do much more harm to me on the metro!) Browsed some shops and then called the American Embassy number to set up an appt for Monday. They came back and said 8:30. Hopefully they might get me out of there by 10 so I can join the afternoon walking tour. Janet will go with the group to the Acropolis because she cannot enter the embassy with me. Fortunately she has some cash because the Embassy will only take a credit card in my name (and I don't have one now!)

    We then called Michail who had volunteered his friend to come pick us up wherever we were. He showed up in 30 minutes to pick us up from Hadrian's Arch near the Plaka area and took us across town to Michaels apt where we were greeted by two very friendly guys. Turned out to be his friends and Janet and I. We sat down and proceeded for the next 4 hrs to be dazzled by food and conversation. Just a fabulous, fabulous experience with 3 local guys. They even had some wrapped up art prints they gave us as going away gifts. Who does this?? Great people, that’s for sure. EatWith is definitely making me want to do this wherever I go - for the money, an absolute gift.
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  • Day8

    5 euro entrance fee pp. caught the subway from the Ancient Agora to here. Thank you Rick Steve for being our verbal tour guide through all these sites ( Acropolis, Agora, and National Museum). So glad I downloaded his app to our phones! Our last day here so had to make it happen! Now for a 15 min stroll back to the hotel and a dinner across from the hotel where we ate with Heidi and Dale, our new friends from Boston.

    I find it highly unusual but this whole group of Gate1 folks got along so well that they all want to do another tour together. Some really nice people on this tour. For the price we paid ($2800 for the two of us which included airfare and all excursions) this is definitely 5 stars.
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  • Day9

    Stanley Hotel to Airport

    March 18 in Greece

    Up at 12:30 am for last second packing, shower. Uber (supposedly) to pick us up. Amazing number of people hanging out on street below. No idea why / probably a Saturday night thing

    Uber picked us up at 1:36 on the dot 3.5 euros to get us to Syntagma square to catch the airport bus. Driver was nice but quiet. Wanted to know why we just didn’t take Uber to the airport - told him it was cheaper to ride the bus. He said 29 Euros with Uber - at least 50 with a taxi. (Our cost with Uber and bus is about 15.5 Euros). 6 Euros each for the bus and we are off and running at 2:10 am. Seats in bus are hard as hell so if you don’t like hard or bouncy or multiple stops along the way , then Uber is the better bet.

    Arrived airport at 2:54 , so about a 45 minute ride.

    Boarded at 5:51. Turned our carry on luggage down and made us check it through to CLT. First time that has happened. (Turned out well - didn’t have to hassle with trying to cram it into overhead compartments. Didn’t mind doing this on the return , wouldn’t want to do it on the going part since this is our only suitcase)

    6:08 am departure
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  • Day1

    Exhausted but still going. Great little restaurant ( https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g189400-d1076442-Reviews-Alexander_the_Great_Greek_Restaurant-Athens_Attica.html?m=19905 ). Very friendly people. We had the mixed barbecue grill - pork, chicken (not really our barbecue - more in the meaning of grilled and seasoned), French fries, salad - a whole lotta food, plus a 1/2 liter of red wine. Was about 33 Euros.

    On the way to our hotel after getting off the bus at Syntagma Square and switching to the metro, I had my passport , credit cards, and cash picked - out of my front pocket!! On a very crowded metro. Was suspicious of one guy. But kept touching my pocket to make sure it as there - still not good enough. Was being pushed very hard from both sides - suspect a woman to the left of me got it when I moved my hand away from my pocket for a moment. Never felt a thing. We hadn’t even made it to the hotel yet! This is going to be a huge hassle. Gotta go to the police station in the morning. Gate1 Emergency Contact guy is being nice and taking me to the police station in the morning Going to mess up our Monday morning visit to the Acropolis We might be able to do it on Saturday since we are staying an extra day

    The trick will be Monday morning at the American Embassy getting everything done quickly. Good luck with that!
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  • Day2

    Gate 1 Group Meeting

    March 11 in Greece

    So we had our group meeting (about 41 people on our tour), mostly from the US, a few from Canada. Many have been on multiple Gate1 tours. Tour guide (goes by "Effie", short for a very long Greek name) was a woman who has been leading tours for 18 years and for the last two years for Gate1. She spent first 15 minutes talking about pick pockets and how Romanian gangs were infiltrating the subways and picking pockets right and left (she didn’t know I had mine taken till afterwards). Bottom line - you basically don’t want anything of value on your body, so leave most of the stuff in the room - maybe take 1 credit card, a little bit of cash hidden under the shirt, etc. Leave your passport in the safe. Unfortunately, on the way to the hotel, I had most of my stuff together in one passport holder simply because the passport holder offered slots for credit cards - won’t do that again and will be sure to have debit card hidden in a sock or something because without that, you have no cash and then you have a bigger problem. I was lucky Janet had her debit card with a different number on it then mine (we both have debits under the same acct but fortunately we had different numbers). And it was fortunate that Janet had taken her Costco card with her which just recently has 0% foreign transaction fees. Had I been on my own for this trip I would have had none of those fallbacks.

    I was very lucky they didn’t get my cell phone - that would have caused some major headaches.

    On my way to the embassy tomorrow morning, I will be wearing a little sleeve device that slides over your arm and has a zipper in it and will be hidden under my shirt with the cash I need for my new passport (Janet had just recently purchased that for the whopping sum of .30 at Target.) Turns out the Embassy will not take credit cards unless your name is on the card and since they will only allow me into the embassy and I have no credit cards, I have to bring cash. Once I get that damn passport, I think I’ll be getting a taxi to bring me to the hotel and drop that temporary passport into the safe, before trying to hook up with the group again near the Acropolis.

    I will say through this all, that Gate 1 has been great. Their emergency contact person Demetrius stepped in to get me to the police station and is also going with me to the Embassy in the morning to make sure I get there ok. That’s pretty darn nice, I’d say.

    Hotel Stanley is nice - desk clerks very nice and helpful. Lots of Gate1 tour groups going in and out of here at the same time. No complaints about the room. We had come in a day early and the desk was good about keeping us in the same room that Gate 1 had set up for us. That was a big help in letting us take advantage of our next day without having to check out and move again. Went up later that night to the rooftop bar for a great view of the Acropolis. Hotel is in a rather seedy area (probably helps to keep the cost of the trip down), but metro stop is right outside the front door, so no real need to wander this area at night. Still, I rarely feel frightened in foreign cities at night, something I wouldn't necessarily say holds true back in the USA>
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Dimos Athens, Athens, Αθήνα, Atene

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