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SOME GENERAL ADVICE ON GREECE

 

If you are coming by air you will arrive at the modern International Airport "Eleftherios Venizelos" (named after a remarkable Prime Minister who left his mark in the beginning of the 20th c.). The airport is linked with Athens (about 25km away) via Metro, public buses (E95 goes to Syntagma Square, the centre of Athens) and a Peri-Urban ("PROASTIAKOS") railway, serving mainly the northern suburbs, as well as by numerous yellow taxi cabs. The SHS 2011 SYMPOSIUM venue is about 25km to the south of the airport (see notes below), about 47 km from Athens center.

 

Greece being a full member of the European Union, no Visas are required by any persons visiting from the European Union or the USA. From further afield, attendees are advised to check with their local Hellenic Embassy or consulate. Information on addresses and contact numbers can be found at the site of the Hellenic Ministry of External Affairs at: http://www.mfa.gr/english/the_ministry/missions/. A list of all foreign embassies in Athens and their addresses and telephone numbers appear here: http://www.agn.gr/page.asp?target=http://www.agn.gr/info/embassy.htm&sec=5

 

Athens is a very busy and noisy city (you can download a detailed, high-resolution, map of central Athens here showing many of the main sites, including the ancient ones). There are three main rush hours: morning (7:30 - 9:00), mid-day (2:00 - 3:00), evening (8:00 - 9:00) and the late evening one when Greeks go out (en masse) for dinner after 10:00pm. There is even one at about 5am (!!), at certain areas, on Sat and Sunday morning when thousands of Greeks return home after a very late night out. Although during April and September the city smog can be quite noticeable, at the time of the Workshop, it should be at low levels. But at the same time, this noisy, busy, bustling city has a lively, beating heart and a multitude of beautiful corners and places to "get away from it all", some in the shade of ancient monuments, others under leafy olive or pine trees. The old central quarter around the Acropolis (incorporating the Marble "Panathenaic" Stadium, the "Olympian Zeus" Temple, the National Gardens with the "Zapeion Megaron", the old "Plaka" quarter, Acropolis, Filopapou Hill, the old Thesion area, "Syntagma" Square and Lykavitos Hill - see the Athens Map) is especially beautiful and a very enjoyable few hours walk along leafy walkways and magnificent monuments. An incredible number of coffee bars share the, often tiny, pavements in summer months, beckoning the tourist for a quick refreshing drink. One cannot help noticing also the characteristic and very ubiquitous Kiosks ("Periptera") on every other corner, offering nearly everything one might need.

 

Traveling around Athens is best done by the modern Underground (METRO) and the urban buses (you'll need coupons for the buses to be bought at a kiosk) most of which are inexpensive, quick, clean and air-conditioned, or by one of the numerous yellow taxis which can be hailed in the street, called by telephone or pre-booked at the hotel. A word of warning: taxis are very often shared and so don't be surprised if a taxi driver heeds your call and pulls up to your outstretched hand, with other passengers still inside (!), asking for your destination (which you must give quickly, loudly and clearly, so that he can ascertain whether he can accommodate you). Greeks are quite used to this system and don't really mind as it is a very effective way to reduce the waiting time needed to find an empty taxi (an almost impossible task at times). But be aware of trickery: always make sure that the meter is properly switched on (showing "Tariff 1" if it is before midnight and after 5am within the city borders, otherwise "Tariff 2") and, if sharing, make a mental note of the fare on the meter when you enter: it must be subtracted from the final amount at your destination to give the fare you must pay. For long distance taxi travel (unexceptional in Greece) a fare can even be negotiated with the driver. In most cases, allow the Hotel staff to do this for you. At any rate, taxi fares are relatively inexpensive compared to other major cities, the minimum fare being about 2E within city borders and just a few Euro nearly to anywhere within the city.

 

Travelling around Greece is best done by rented car. Railways serve mainly the main urban centres whereas long-distance public transport, although very frequent and mostly modern (and air-conditioned), can be trying for the uninitiated, especially in the summer. Roads are mostly in good condition and all places are well signposted, although in small places the signs may be only in Greek. It is very important to have a detailed map if you are planning to travel alone. In that case, you might want to stay at the numerous available local "rooms" instead of hotels, thereby getting a feeling for local traditional architecture and way of living. In this case you will be amazed by the local hospitality and open-heartedness displayed by your hosts. Free camping in Greece is ostensibly not allowed, a fact which raises more than a few eyebrows considering the numerous tents appearing on every secluded beach on Greek islands. But be prepared to move if a local "authority" asks you to.

 

Traveling around the islands ("island hopping") is a favourite among many young people (and those young at heart) as, in the summer, most islands are connected via Ferry or local caique and the weather is very warm and stably calm. All islands of course are served from Pireaus (the main port of Athens) or Rafina, a major passenger port on the East coast of Attiki. Many of the popular desitnations also have air connections, from the "Eleftherios Venizelos" Airport. If you don't have much time, the close-by Saronic Gulf islands of Aegina, Spetses or Hydra are well worth a day visit and offer the whole gamut of Greek-island experience, the latter two not allowing private visitors' cars.

 

Greek people are in general very welcoming, extrovert and very open in showing their pleasure at having a visitor, whether he/she is a personal or a tourist friend. As in all large cities, stress is taking its toll on goodwill though and people may be a bit snappish and direct as a response to abrupt behaviour. But they will soon "melt" if they perceive a friendly face and polite approach. Starting a chat with a local is the easiest thing and all it takes is a smiling "kalimera!" and "ti kaneis?", upon which they'll be ever so happy to initiate a chat extolling the beauty of Greece, its glories and its delights. In small villages, an invitation to share lunch or dinner or just a cup of coffee "to get to know you" is not at all surprising. Country folk are naturally and innocently curious of tourists and so don't be surprised if you are asked about your country, your job and even your personal life!

 

Most people speak fairly passable English in Greece (young people much more so than the older generations) and all will be delighted to be given an opportunity to practice their English and display their innate hospitality. Even so, a few Greek words spoken with a smile will always result in a very favourable reaction by the locals. The most obvious words worth remembering are (underlined letter denotes the accent):

Efharisto! = Thank you!

Parakalo= Please, "you are welcome"

Parakalo? = May I help you?

Sygnomi! = sorry, excuse me

Kalimera! = Good morning!

Kalispera! = Good afternoon/evening

Kalinykta! = Good night (on retiring)

Ti kaneis? = How are you?  (familiar, addressing a child or a friend)

Ti kanete? = How are you? (formal plural)

Yia sou! (the Y pronounced as in "you") = Hello!, Goodbye! (familiar)

Yia sas! = Hello!, Good bye! (formal plural or on entering or leaving a shop or restaurant)

 

Shopping is quite a pleasurable experience in Greece. Even though Athens is just like any other western metropolis, it's heart still ticks and tilts a little towards the Orient, as you might witness at the Monastiraki "flea market" (NW of Acropolis) on Sunday mornings. You can find anything and everything in Greek shops, many being boutique style, catering for all tastes, styles and wallets. Many large department stores and supermarkets exist of course, but the small, friendly shops are much more fun to enter, look around and chat. Many open air markets exist (the famous wandering "Laiki (folk)" fresh produce markets visit every neighborhood in Greece once every week) and many of the literally thousands of tourist shops are quite happy to negotiate a price if approached with a friendly smile and a comment such as: "is that your final price please?" or "could you perhaps do a better price?". Out-of-the-beaten-track hotels may also negotiate a price, especially out of season. Tourist goods and souvenirs come in myriad types and cater for all tastes and pockets. The "Old Athens" area of Plaka, on the foothills (N and E ) of the Acropolis (see Map)  is particularly famous for its narrow streets, romantic alleys and great selection of tourist shops (and tavernas).

 

Along with the sea, the sun, the scenery, its history and its people, Greece's culinary delights are the cornerstones of its well-deserved popularity. Restaurants are plentiful and most are the taverna type, with open-air tables, often with live music late into the night (and early morning), offering the unparalleled "Greek open-air free-life" feeling accompanied by the sweet strumming of the bouzouki. Apart from the many barbequed meat and fish dishes, Greek cuisine is very rich in vegetarian dishes (always cooked with olive oil), although the choice of these may be restricted in the busy tourist areas and one would have to search for more traditional family-run tavernas. Generally, most main meals are usually accompanied by "tzatziki" (cucumber and yoghurt dip with garlic, mint and olive oil), a Greek ("village") fresh salad topped with olives, "feta" cheese, origanum and olive oil and of course freshly-baked bread, coarsely cut. Fried aubergine and zucchini are always popular too in the summer months and go very well together with tzatziki. Popular sea food includes fried calamari (squid) and "htapodi" (octopus, boiled and served with olive oil and vinegar), both making most taste-buds curl with pleasure. Fish is always prepared whole, be it small such as "marida" (white-bait) or "barbouni" (red mullet), prepared by frying or larger such as breams or grey mullets, usually grilled. Fish (and meat) is sold by the kilo in tavernas and it is well accepted in Greece to ask to see and choose the fish before they are cooked. You will then be invited to the kitchen where a proud taverna owner (or his wife or mother cooking in the kitchen) will display the fresh fish in an ice drawer for you to choose.

 

There are many fast-food places in Greece too. Apart from the ubiquitous "Macs" and the far more popular Greek version "Goudy's", and Pizza restaurants, numerous "souvlaki" (barbequed pork or chicken in a pita with salad and tzatziki) corner shops will entice your nostrils and taste-buds with their "aroma" as you walk around Athens. Such "souvlakis" are inexpensive (less than 2E) and extremely popular fare for people that do not have the time (or money) to sit and wait. Beer and many drinks are sold openly at kiosks (periptera) and small shops nearly everywhere. Tap water is perfectly safe (and tasty) to drink but many people prefer the convenience of a bottle of still water, bought cold at a kiosk. The last 10-15 years have also seen the evolution of a larger number of excellent bottled wines exported and enjoyed globally but most tavernas offer their own house wine, mostly a fairly good quality dry white or red. Retsina (dry white flavoured with pine resin the ancients used to drink) is still popular, but less so than before. Ouzo (strong aperitif liquor with anise flavor, drunk very cold on ice) is very popular at lunch-time to accompany sea foods.

 

 

EXTRA CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES

 

Day Tour on 29th June2005:

During the Workshop, a full day bus tour has been arranged for Wed 29th June 2005, when we are planning to visit the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion, take in the centre of Athens (stopping at the Marble Panathenaic Stadium) and continue onto Ancient Epidaurus on the Peloponnese. After a typical sea-food lunch at the lovely seaside village of Old Epidaurus or the historical town of Nafplion, we shall visit ancient Mycenae returning to the Hotel along the seaside Apollon Coastal road. For a description of the places we'll visit and many links see our Archaeological Sites link. A knowledgeable English-speaking official guide will be with us throughout the day to answer all our questions and querries.

 

General information on traveling around Greece

For those of you who wish to visit Greece on your own (the period of end of June  - beginning of July being highly recommended as it is neither too touristy, nor too hot), here is some further useful information to help you plan. The Workshop Secretariat will also be happy to answer any specific questions you may have about visiting Greece. For information on various archaeological sites that can easily be visited from EDEN  Hotel, please see also our Archaeological Sites link.

 

Distance tables

 

Destinations within ATTICA Prefecture:

From                            To                    Distance km/(miles)

Anavyssos                    Athens              48 km  (30 mi)

Anavyssos                    Sounion            18 km  (11 mi)

Anavyssos                    Marathon         84 km  (53 mi)

Athens                          Marathon         36 km  (23 mi)

Sounion                        Lavrion               9 km  (6 mi)

Lavrion                         Thorikos             2.5 km (1.5 mi)

Thorikos                       Vravrona          41 km  (26 mi)

 

Destinations in Peloponisos:

From                            To                    Distance km/(miles)

Anavyssos                    Epidauros         197 km (123 mi)

Anavyssos                    Corinth             134 km (84 mi  )

Athens                          Corinth             86 km  (54 mi)

Corinth                         Epidauros         63 km  (40 mi)

Corinth                         Mycenae          34 km  (21 mi)

Corinth                         Nauplion          59 km  (37 mi)

Epidauros                     Nauplion          35 km  (22 mi)

Nauplion                      Mycenae          22 km  (14 mi)

Mycenae                      Nemea             14 km  (10 mi)

 

Destinations in central Greece:

From                            To                    Distance km/(miles)

Anavyssos                    Delphi              224 km (140 mi)

Anavyssos                    Meteora           407 km (254 mi)

Athens                          Meteora           359 km (224 mi)

Athens                          Delphi              176 km (110 mi)

  

Notes: 

1. All distances are approximate.  Road conditions vary in rural areas and may require more time than the distance indicates.

 

2. A good map and guide book(s) are extremely helpful. The Attica map on the site http://web.ims.demokritos.gr/SHS2011/Attiki.htm is recent and contains all sites within Attica mentioned above

 

3. Maps published by ROAD Editions are detailed and excellent.  For travel in the Athens and area north of Athens choose the Attica and Central Greece maps. 

 

4. Excellent guide books include:

·        Blue Guide Greece; very detailed

·        Blue Guide Athens; very detailed and very useful for travel in Attiki area.

·        Baedeker’s Greece; excellent general guide

·        Michelin guide to Greece; good compromise on detail and general coverage

·        DK Eyewitness Travel Guide to Greece; excellent up to date guide; includes maps of regions and information on access to archaeological sites and museums.

·        Harper-Collins Language Survival Guide Greece;  A useful collection of language phrases, and other practical information.

 

5. Moderately priced hotels in central Athens near the Acropolis:

·        Austria C class,            7 Mousson St.,             Tel. 011-30-210-923-5151

·        Acropolis C class,        10 Webster St.,            Tel. 011-30-210-921-7303

·        Attalos C class,            29 Athinas,                   Tel. 011-30-210-321-2801

·        Electra A class,             5 Ermou St.,                 Tel. 011-30-210-322-3222

·        Hera C class                 9 Falirou,                      Tel. 011-30-210-924-7334