About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

03 April 2014

Thoughts on Athens

The ancient world of Rome, Greece and Egypt were (and I think still are) staples of history class in school. I was (and still am) interested in mythology, and Ancient Greece was particularly rich in Mythology - from Hercules, to the Trojan War to the Iliad and The Odyssey. 

When I set out on planning this trip, I had not meant to link all the places together - I wanted to go to Pergamon, but only after seeing the Altar in Berlin a few years ago; but I did not know the deep links the kings of Pergamon had with Athens. I wanted to go to Troy, because of the stories - but had forgotten of the links to Delphi. The trip has been amazing in linking all of these together; and although I did not complete the mythological world (for example, I couldn't fit in Crete) - I covered a great portion.

Of the ancient world, Athens has particular significance in being the root of the western civilized world; and it has lived up to its hype. Despite the economic crisis, Athens has endured - like it has endured countless other crisis before this one. And the Athenians it seems, have also endured. There are many shops that have closed down; but there are many more that remain open. Streets are busy, coffee shops and bars seem to be full in the evening, trains and busses are full - all the signs of a vibrant city.

But there is an economic crisis, and it does have its signs. There are more beggars here than any other European city I have visited. Occasional shops have crisis sales, indicating all is not well; and while things aren't as bad as Lesvos, it is clearly not all rosy. There were protests two evening before in front of the parliament; the police spent most of the day gearing up, and on TV it looked really angry. There was a small crowd there this morning, but apart from playing AC/DC on bad speakers, they weren't as noticeable.

But Athens does make a great, and cheap, holiday destination. The prices for meals and drinks are comparatively cheap to the rest of Europe. The hotels are equally cheap. It has great attractions, that are all within a small radius of the city centre. The people are very friendly, and willing to assist however they can. 

And most of all, the attractions are cheap - too cheap in my opinion! The Acropolis ticket gives you access to almost all the other archeological sites, over 4 days an cost on 12 Eur. For comparison, Berlin's Museum Island pass for one day is 18 Eur! The museums are equally affordable; and prices for students and under 18s is almost free. 

That said, the tourist experience can be better in some areas. Bus routes and times could be better marked; or perhaps provided online or on an app. Opening times for the museums and attractions are inconsistent - some are until 3pm others  until 8pm; but it's not easy to say which one is till when. And more places could take credit cards - not talking about the kiosks in each street corner; but places like the Acropolis and airport metro stations. 

There are things I would still like to see in Greece, so I would like to come back. And I hope Athens is as enjoyable then.

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