Athens Journals

Among the Olympian Gods - the Treasures of Athens

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A September 2006 trip to Athens by actonsteve

A funeral stele showing Pan Photo, Athens, Greece More Photos
Quote: Dominated by the mighty Acropolis - Athens is laden with historical treasures. A three millennia old city at ease with itself in the 21st century

Among the Olympian Gods - the Treasures of Athens

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Overview

The Parthenon Facade Photo, Athens, Greece
Quote:
Without knowing it Athens enters your consciousness at a very early age. Whether it be pictures of the mighty Acropolis, tales of Greek mythology or Hellenic inspired statues in your own city - you are aware of Athens and its ancient culture almost from childhood. So how does coming face to face with those world famous treasures compare in the flesh? Well, to me - Athens surpassed expectation. It has problems, yes, but what do you expect from a 5000 year old city? To me its pro's outweighed the cons. And it seems a European city on a human scale where "old Greece" has not been homogenised by the 21st century. And the sheer range of attractions here is staggering. Some of the smaller sights...Read More

Hotel Filoxenia Athens

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Hotel

Hotel Athens Filoxenia Photo, Athens, Greece
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Its often the people running the hotels who make your stay.Some put themselves out for you, so fall over themselves for you but some are just genuinely interested in you. And that is what I got from the vibes from those running Hotel Filoxenia in central Athens. The three multilingual guys on the desk had one hell of a job running a budget hotel during peak season but they always stopped what they were doing to talk to me - Are you OK? What did you see today? Are you enjoying Athens?And Filoxenia is a budget hotel housing the thousands of tourists who descend on Athens each summer before heading for the islands. Its main attraction is that is midway between Omonia Square and Larisa Sta...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on December 20, 2006

Hotel Filoxenia Athens
50 Aharnon str, Vathis, Athens, Greece
Athens, Greece
8828611 - 612

Eastern facade of the Parthenon Photo, Athens, Greece
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The 'high city' of the Acropolis resembles the surface of an alien planet.When I was there, the ages old monument was being whipped by winds. Those same winds whipped the white gravel into swirling clouds that covered the camera wielding tourists. Doric columns lie around along with flagstones over 3500 years old, tripping up the tourists who are coming to grips with finally coming face to face with a world wonder. There's almost too much to take in - a spectacular setting, an unbelievable history, fantastic views of Athens and architecture which is copied around the world. I sometimes think the Acropolis is planet earth's year zero.According to Greek mythology Poseidon and Ath...Read More
One of the streets off Athinas Photo, Athens, Greece
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Wandering back one evening down Athinas I chanced upon Platia Katzia. Opposite the 18th century Town Hall was a full square of people watching traditional Greek dancing. The sound of bazooki music floated through the air and none of the dancers were under sixty. They hardly moved out of first gear, but you got the impression they were enjoying their own culture and the crowd was lapping it up.And that is the thing about this part of Athens it is so utterly "Greek". The stretch between Omonia Square and the start of Plaka is the Greece that you travelled hundreds of miles to see. And its smack bang in the centre of the city - a rare slice of neighbourhood life in one of the most frenetic of...Read More
The antiques market on Platia Agora Photo, Athens, Greece
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Do you think you will get close to the Evones?You remember the Evones? Those goosestepping soldiers that guard the Greek Parliament. Young men in tassled caps, kilts, and woolly leggings. They stride up and down with rifles over their shoulders wearing a costume taken from the mountains of Greece. When they stop the tourists jump in, grins on their faces, and try and get their pictures taken with these symbols of Athens.I'm not a great fan of national guards being used as a tourist convenience. I've walked walked past Horseguards Parade too many times and seen tourists try and make London's own 'household cavalry' crack up and lose their composure. And I often see...Read More
The facade of the Temple of Hephasteon Photo, Athens, Greece
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One thing I did not expect from Athens was the number of dogs on the streets.These were not the homeless canines I have seen in the cities of some countries. But genuine, acclimatised local dogs who spend their lives outside - sleeping wherever they can. Most seem to be of pensioner age and seem to be doing it for decades. I saw tubby labradors on Syndtagma Square, imagine labradors sleeping on the pavement of Piccadilly Circus and everyone stepping over them. There were a number of them inside the entrance of the Ancient agora and when you approached they raised their heads and their tails wagged weakly. But mainly they spent their time asleep in the sun. When the heat gets too much for t...Read More
Pan being a naughty boy... Photo, Athens, Greece
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Just how good is your Greek mythology?Do you know your Zeus from your Kronos? Do you know your Hera from your Thetis? Your Perseus from your Odysseus?It helps to have some background knowledge when visiting the Athens Archaeological Museum. One marble bust begins to resemble another marble bust unless you recognise the name on the label. You enjoyment is a little more if you know how each god connects with the other. The Olympian family tree if you like? But there aren't just busts and statues of the Greek gods at the museum but also the Roman Emperors and the classical worlds ideal of beauty - Olympian athletes.The museum stands on 28 Octovriou, a boulevard that he...Read More
The haul up to the Acropolis Photo, Athens, Greece
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Athens, for all its attractions, is also one of the biggest travel fulcrums in the world.From here tourists head off in a dozen directions. The famous islands seem to be the most popular destination and many visitors roll off the airplane, spend a day gawping at the Acropolis, then head straight for the ferries. From Piraeus you can reach the Dodecanese, the Sporades, Rhodes, Crete and even Israel and Egypt. Every traveller in the world does the Greek ferries at one point. They are part of world mythology. For many people the sunshine and sand of the myriad of islands is a lure as strong as the 'song of Circe'. And most pass through the memorable port of Piraeus.And this is a p...Read More