guide to Athens introduction
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In the last 12 years I've been to Athens [the one in Greece!] getting on for 50 times - the last visit being in July 2012. I'm not going to claim that I am a hard-core traveller, but I have wandered around the city quite a lot so I'm sure I've got some information that might be useful to anyone going there. Perhaps the type of thing you won't find in the guide books?

Athens: ancient ruins I've called this my guide to Athens - but is it a guide? I suppose it is in a way - but really it is more a collection of my memories of Athens.

Although several of my visits have been holidays [spent mainly lounging around a pool] most of my stays have been on business - and for me, that means teaching [although my last three visits were for ATINER conferences]. When teaching, I would arrive sometime on a Friday - depending on the flight, anything from mid-afternoon until midnight. Saturdays and Sundays were spent teaching from nine until five, then a flight home on Monday, usually late afternoon. These times mean that my experiences of Athens are restricted to a few hours during the day and lots of evenings. So if you are looking for lots of half and full day trips, visits and experiences, this site might not be of much use to you.

Athens: fountains in a square near the National Bank When I first went to Athens the 2004 Olympics were four years away, and serious work in preparation for them had not really started - the Greeks have something of a reputation for leaving things until the last minute. This meant that I saw the improvements take place - and what a difference they made in those four years. There is no doubt that, visually, Athens is a far nicer place to visit now than it was in 2000. However, after having a good look around during my recent visits, that improvement has stood still - and you have to suspect that the economic problems of the country will see few 'civic' projects in the near future and so there has to be a suspicion [expectation?] that things might slide backwards as funding dries up.

Everything here is written from memory. It is not a travelogue. I made no notes - I even had to check some of my old expense claims for the names of the hotels I have stayed in. If there are factual errors I apologise. Of course, if someone wants to cover my costs so I can do the job properly, just get in touch ...

Speaking English in Athens

I am embarrassed [ashamed?] to admit that I speak no Greek [all the teaching I have done over there is in English]. OK, I can do; 'yes', 'no', 'please', 'thank you' and 'good morning/evening', but that's about all.

In Athens this is not a problem. In hotels, restaurants and bars the staff speak English, many fluently. Tourist shops are also OK, but other shops can be a bit hit and miss - though if nothing else, vendors normally know the products that they sell in a variety of languages.

Personal security in Athens

I am wanderer. Following a map is useful if you have a definite destination and a time limit. In my time in Athens I have rarely had such a criterion - so I wander. I might know where I wanted to end up, but I just roam in the general direction. In that way you see more of the place you are in.

Athens: the head of a damaged statue - hit by a tank in 1974 This means I would sometimes spot something I liked the look of [normally a bar or restaurant] and never arrive at my intended destination. It also means I sometimes found myself off the beaten track. Now let's be clear, I have only wandered around the centre of the city, mainly around Omonia and Syntagma Squares and Plaka and its surrounding areas, so I can hardly speak for the whole of Athens, but I have never felt threatened in any way.

Of course, I am a six-feet tall male - so not perhaps the ideal target for muggers or ne'r-do-wells, but nevertheless, I have been in other cities where I have thought 'Oh bugger, I'm getting out of this area as soon as possible'. Not so in Athens - though colleagues have said they have found themselves in 'dodgy' areas by mistake. I suppose I should also add that I do not walk around with a wallet or expensive mobile phone in my hand, passport sticking out of my shirt pocket or Euro notes hanging out of my back pocket - you should always take sensible precautions and avoid unnecessary risks.

Athens: University buildings in the city centre

Follow the links below for more of my advice on visiting the city of Athens

districts | Easter parade | eat & drink | football win | hotels | photos | places | traffic | transport | weather
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