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MORE NOTES ON EDEN HOTEL AND VICINITY

 

More notes on EDEN Hotel:

 

EDEN Beach Hotel-Club is located on the main road joining Athens and the promontory of Sounion, with its famous temple of Poseidon (which we'll try to visit). The road can be very busy and rather dangerous on summer weekends and great care must be exercised if one needs to cross it. Hotel guests need not worry however, as there is an under-road passage leading directly to the "Mavro-Lithari" (Black Rock) beach. The beach itself is of high quality with Hotel umbrellas, and many sea-sports. It is sandy and gently slopping in most places, with perfectly clear water and interesting rockeries on either side and a couple of rock islets about 100m from the shore, worth visiting for exploring. The sea-bottom, for those that like exploring with a mask, becomes very interesting further in with a wide variety of fish and if you are lucky you can even see the odd octopus (well camouflaged always) or even an eel or two among the rocks (the brown stripped moray eel is indigenous to Greece, but contrary to popular belief, it is almost completely harmless and an extremely shy and retiring creature, unless disturbed). Small crabs are in many crevices on the rocks, scuttling about as soon as someone approaches. Jellyfishes are very rare in this area and are also quite harmless. The beach also boasts a welcoming bar and taverna (both owned by the Hotel) and this is where the Banquet on Thu 8 September 2011 will be held.

 

The Hotel itself is built in a private pine-tree garden which always offers a welcoming feeling of shade after a hot day on the beach. There are two main buildings. SHS2-2011 will be held on the 2-storey smaller building closer to the sea, next to the tennis courts and it has been reserved for us. It has about 75 rooms, all already reserved by participants which means that late-registering attendees will be staying at the main building (also 2-storey) further up along a slate garden path. The Conference room is fully equipped with sound and projection equipment (with a high resolution beamer) and wi-fi internet reception throughout the building. The conference room is comfortable, fully air-conditioned and can hold more than 200 seats. Next to it are the two rooms for the parallel sessions, fully sound-proofed. The foyer will hold the posters and the registration desks as well as the 2 or 3 web-enabled computers for the use of participants. The main building is where the Hotel reception, the concierge and the dining room are located together with a small shop and other amenities. There is also a 24-seat meeting room. Nearly all rooms in both buildings have beautiful sea and garden views and are newly re-decorated, of high quality with en-suite bathrooms, colour TV (CNN, RAI, TV5, Sky etc), wi-fi and a balcony. They also have a lap-top-size safe with an internal mains point (220V throughout Greece). In front of the main building there is a large swimming pool with view over the sea for those that may want a change from salty water.

 

The vicinity (please refer to the map of Attiki):

To the north-west, along the main road to Athens, lies the resort of Saronida (about 3km away) and further along the road are the resort villages of Varkiza and Vouliagmeni. Beyond that,  lies the cosmopolitan suburb of Glyfada with its large modern shopping area and beyond that the remaining seaside suburbs of Athens, mostly heavily built-up. Following the coastal road in the same direction one can reach Piraeus, the main Port of Athens. Athens itself is reached along many routes, the public bus taking the main Syggrou Avenue route, leading straight to the Acropolis, some 47km from EDEN Hotel.

 

To the south-east, along the road to Sounio, one finds the typical fishing village of Palea Fokea (about 4km away), still very much living off its small fishing caiques, and other small villages. Following the wavy road, taking in some spectacular scenery, you reach Sounio, with the Temple of Poseidon visible suddenly against the blue sky. Beyond Sounio lies the town of Lavrion, once famous for its ancient silver mines that made Athens the most powerful city-state of the ancient world. The mines are still in use, now producing cadmium and other base metals. Many ancient mine-digs are still evident in the wooded hills, reachable if one has a rented car with which to explore.

 

Turning inland, on the way to Palea Fokea, after the old salt-pans on the left (now an empty, dusty area) and the large, wind-surfing beach on the right, one finds (about 2km inland) the village of Anavyssos, built close to large olive and citrus groves. The village is proud of its jewelery making and many shops can be found around the main village square.

 

Transportation:

The main public bus service has a stop right outside the Hotel, on the main road. In the summer, there are buses to and from Athens every half hour and it costs about 3E to the centre of Athens, about 1.5 hours away along the coastal road. Sounio and Lavrio is reachable to the south. The bus stops in all the villages and resorts all along the coastal road, and so it is a very easy and pleasant (air-conditioned, even if packed at times) way of discovering this part of Greece. If bus is not your game, there are taxis that can be called by the concierge but the price to the centre of Athens can cost about 45E (about 50km away). Bicycles are rarely seen in the summer because of the heat, but if you insist on cycling, do be very careful: traffic can be heavy on the weekends and Greek drivers are strong proponents of the theory of "dynamic chaos" in their driving habits.

 

Weather:

The weather at this time of the year is very stable and expected mild to hot at about 25-30oC but not too humid (about 60% near the sea, to about 40% further inland). Rain is rare at this time of the year and when we do get the odd summer storm it is very welcome indeed!. Clouds do not last very long under the heat and so sun-lovers are usually the happiest. Winds are generally weak, off-shore during the day, turning on-shore at night. A word of warning: as the symposium will be held at the end of summer, the sun will still high and hot. A hat or other head-covering and strong sun-screens are HIGHLY advisable, especially for children. 

 

Shopping:

The Hotel has a small tourist shop where one can buy souvenirs and certain small items for summertime.  For tourist shopping, the centre of Athens (around the Monastiraki and Plaka areas) is the place to be. Closer to the Hotel, apart from the small tourist shop within the hotel premises which offers quite a wide variety of items) tourist and other shops can be found in Saronida, Palea Fokea (where all summertime items one may have forgotten can be found) and elsewhere around. More extensive shopping can be found in Varkiza and of course the very extensive and boutique-style shopping areas of Glyfada where one can find the best names in clothes and other items from all over the world, including famous Greek and Italian shoes, accessories and wearing apparel. Excellent night clubs, bars and restaurants can be found here too

 

Eating and drinking:

The Hotel has at least 3 cafe-bars: on the beach, at the swimming pool and in the main building. A small refreshment bar will also be available at the Conference building. It also has the beautiful, beach taverna and a full restaurant in the main building.

Along the coastal areas one can find many cafe-bars and tavernas, many offering a huge selection of Greek snacks and fish or meat dishes, mostly barbequed. The vegetable (many cooked with the famous Greek olive-oil) dishes are very well worth sampling. Musical entertainment is also available in many areas and it is best to enquire at the concierge. Note that the Banquet on Thu evening will be a typical "Greek music and dancing" evening and promises to be very enjoyable! There will also be a welcoming drink at the beach on Sunday evening (4th September).

For the more adventurous, the hotel can organize (on demand) a short caique trip to the little island of Arsida opposite the Hotel to visit the caves and enjoy the sea.

 

Short trips around:

As mentioned, the public bus stops right outside the hotel and is the recommended way, if one doesn't have a car, of visiting around to all places mentioned above. For details it's best to ask the hotel or the organizers.

 

For the weekend after the Symposium, for those who are interested, we suggest a day ferry or hydrofoil trip to one of the nearby islands of Aegina, Spetses or Hydra, all leaving from Pireaus. For the whole weekend, one can also visit further afield to the Cyclades islands of Andros, Tinos, Mykonos, Syfnos, even Santorini etc, also from Pireaus. For all such excursions, one can ask at the hotel. However, since the connections are easiest from Athens, those who want to stay over and explore more may prefer to move to a hotel within Athens from where they can day-trip easily, although this might entail some organizing. The Metro goes all the way to Piraeus and is easily assessable from most Athens downtown hotels. A day trip to any of the close-by islands is easy to organize using the regular ferries or the hydrofoils. Also a day trip to Delphi using local transportation is easy to arrange. Staying in Athens for a couple of days would also enable one to visit the Acropolis, the National Archaeological Museum and all other places at leisure and would not cost much.