Friday, September 30, 2016

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Friday Travel Tip - Athens - FINDING A TAVERNA

I was once walking through the back streets of a tourist neighbourhood when I heard a woman on her cell phone explaining how she had discovered a “secret out of the way" restaurant. Seeing as she was in one of the main tourist areas in Athens, I don't think there was anything secret about her find at all. That's not to say that she was wrong, she just doesn't understand how most Greek restaurants work.

While there are many chain restaurants in Athens, there are far more locally (and sometimes family) owned tavernas (Greek taverns). While they all sell Greek food, many of them have something unique about them. It could be a specialty dish, or just a certain environment. Many offer specialties from areas in Greece but outside of Athens. I have yet to taste a really bad taverna, but I have seen a few very overpriced places.

A good rule to know if you're going to pay too much depends on your proximity to parked tour buses. The further you travel from tourism, the cheaper your meal will. But don’t worry, a cheap meal doesn’t mean you’re getting lesser quality food. If you leave tourist filled neighbourhoods like the Plaka, Thesio, and Kolonaki, you’ll find some great treasures. But you may have some trouble navigating the menus, since many of the smaller tavernas in residential neighbourhoods may not offer English menus.

As an added note, my favourite gyros shop looks like a tourist trap, but it's reasonably priced and fantastic (Thanasis at Monastiraki square).

Later

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Monday, September 26, 2016

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Friday, September 23, 2016

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Friday Travel Tip - Athens - YOUR NEED FOR A BEACH

Most people assume that from Athens, going for a swim in the Mediterranean is a simple task. This isn't completely true. The closest beach from downtown Athens is about a 30-minute drive, and this beach is not that great. If you're taking public transit you can be looking at more than an hour before you see the beginnings of beach life, up to two hours before you start seeing really nice beaches. If you have the opportunity, make sure you get in all your beach time on an island, because Athens really isn’t a beach town.

If you are desperate for a swim, then heading to Glyfada is your best bet. Found along the coastal road towards Sounio there are many beach options. It’s fairly easy to get to using public transportation, but it is fairly slow. You will find a few beaches before you hit Glyfada, but keep in mind the further you travel from the somewhat polluted port of Piraeus the better. Keep in mind that some beaches are pay beaches; you can be charged up to 50 euros per person, so a quick dip might cost you.

If you're feeling a little more adventurous, you can find some very nice beaches in the Nea Makri area. These beaches are very popular with the locals for a quick getaway. To get to them you need a car, and getting there can be a little challenging, but they’re well worth it.

Later

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Monday, September 19, 2016

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Friday, September 16, 2016

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Friday Travel Tip - Athens - GETTING OUT OF THE CITY

If you visit Athens you may choose to escape the city for a day and explore some of the surroundings areas. The popular choice in Greece for travel is the islands, and if you have 5 days or more it can be a lot of fun. If you really want to visit an island and you have limited time, Hydra is the closest, and best choice. An overnight on this island will gives you a taste of island life without huge travel time. However outside of Athens there are a lot of day trip options that can be really great to see.

If you want to stick to the mainland, there are many other options as well. Sounio is the home of the temple of Poseidon; this site is the perfect place to watch the sun set. If you're driving to Sounio you'll also pass some great beaches, perfect on a hot day.

If you don’t mind walking, Corinth is well worth a visit. With 4 key sites to see you can easily fill up your day. If you have the energy you should start with a climb up the Acro-Corinth, a beautiful fort on a hill. After the climb you can eat lunch in the village bellow and explore Ancient Corinth. Next head over to new Corinth and sit by the statue of Pegasus, after all he was born here. On your way out of town check out the world famous canal, an engineering marvel.

If you're in Athens for more than 5 days scheduling a day out is a great way to see some of Greece that you may have missed, as well as getting a little fresh air. Buses/boats are available to all of these destinations, inland you can also drive.

Later

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Monday, September 12, 2016

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Friday, September 9, 2016

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Monday, September 5, 2016

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Friday, September 2, 2016

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Friday Travel Tip - Athens - THE PLAKA

The Plaka is the tourist centre of the city, getting around it can be a challenge since there isn't a straight street to be found. Don't worry; there are a few tricks to help you out.

First of all, the Plaka is probably the most mapped area in all of Athens, and maybe even all of Greece. Finding a detailed map of this area is very easy, often even for free. Secondly you have a great visual marker to help you find your way, the Acropolis. This entire neighbourhood is pretty much built up on the hill of the Acropolis so it makes for a great visual marker.

When you first step into the Plaka, you'll probably think that you've been dropped into an outdoor tourist trap. In some ways this is true, but don't judge this neighbourhood too quickly. Amongst all the tourist shops there are many fine artisan shops, great hidden restaurants and quite hidden streets. All of this, and it's literally littered with ancient sites.

A good way to know if you're buying from a shop selling average tourist fair vs. a store selling finer crafts is to see what kind of range of items they're selling. I find that stores not selling a huge range of items and focusing on one particular kind of products are most likely dealing in finer products. Most people assume that any restaurant in the Plaka must be tourist only places and not "local". This isn’t true; locals in Athens regularly enjoy a snack, coffee, or meal in this neighbourhood.

Later

Thursday, September 1, 2016