The day after I posted grades, I headed for a week in Athens, Greece, for a “working” holiday. As a theatre history professor, I have wanted to visit some of the sites that I teach, particularly the ancient Greek theaters. I also wanted to take my own photos and videos to use in my classes.
I flew on Turkish Airlines from Prishtinë to Istanbul, had an eight-hour layover, and then flew to Athens. I rented a flat about 20 minutes away from downtown (basically 10 minutes on a bus, then another 10 on the Metro).
I would have been happy to spend a month in Greece, were the temps cooler (and I had the time and euros): a week in Athens itself, a week island hopping, and then a week in the center and south (Epidaurus, Mycenae, Delphi) and another week in the north (Thessaloniki). Alas, I had only a week.
I took hundreds of photos and posted the best of them (with descriptions!) on albums on Facebook. You can see them by clicking any of the following links.
Athens: Days 1-3 (48 photos)
Acropolis & Theatre of Dionysus (36 photos)
Athens Meat Market (11 photos)
Athens: Days 4-6 (50 photos)
Piraeus & Aegina (30 photos)
Lycabettus (15 photos)
Iphigenia on the Stones (9 photos)
Epidaurus Theatre (24 photos)
Tips for Visiting Athens
- Buy a pass for public transportation. I bought a 7-day pass for 14€, and it covered all my bus and metro trips for the week.
- I had no problems using the official (yellow) taxis. They used their meters and the rates were reasonable. Try to write the name and location/address on paper to give to your driver.
- Know that you can take the metro from the airport to the city (8€); also, you can take the metro from the city to the port of Piraeus and easily walk to the boats and ferries.
- Be careful with your valuables. Remember: “out of sight, out of mind.” One lady on our tour had a gold necklace snatched from her neck a block from the National Archaeological Museum.
- The heat and sun can be brutal. Wear a hat or cap and keep a bottle of water with you. On Athena Street (connecting Omonia with Monastiraki squares), there are lots of places to buy cheap clothes (like Greek shirts and loose pants) that are perfect for the weather.
- Know that your Acropolis ticket is good at several other historic sites (but not the Acropolis Museum). I recommend buying your ticket at the base of the Acropolis at the entrance to the Theatre of Dionysus (no lines!) and then working your way up.
- The Acropolis and other historic sites are dusty and slippery: the well-worn paving stones are like ice. Wear sensible shoes. Flip-flops may be great for the beaches, but they do not work for climbing ancient sites.
- I was amazed by the lack of tourists; perhaps the euro-crisis has had a negative impact. I also was amazed by how many of the tourists I encountered were Americans.
- Prices are comparable to most of southern Europe but still much higher than the Balkans.
- If you’re visiting for an extended time, you should consider renting an apartment. The rates are comparable to 3+ star hotels and you will have washers, fridges, internet…basically, a home away from home.