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Trip Report Quick Trip to Olympia and Athens

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I took a short trip to Olympia and Athens in mid-October (part of a trip that included the UK). I wanted to share a few details since most people either drive or do a tour to Olympia. I took the bus from Athens to Olympia. It takes about 3-1/2 to 4 hours depending on express or local. My Athens hotel make a reservation for me when I arrived to insure a seat. I paid cash about 60 Euro R/T when I got to the terminal.
Olympia is very beautiful. It is in farming country and the area is lush with lemons, oranges, quinces, pomegranates and other vines. The Olympics site is well maintained and mainly visited in the morning by the tour buses from the cruise ships. I went at 4 p.m. on a Sunday and there were about 20 people there so I could enjoy everything without the morning crowds.

The next day I went to the Archaeological Museum and a Museum devoted to the Historic Olympic games. The Archeological Museum has a bookstore & gift shop, clean bathrooms and a snack bar with lots of seating. Their lattes & cookies are very good.

I stayed at the Best Western Europa that has a well deserved high ranking. It is in the hills above the Olympic site maybe 500 meters. I walked back and forth but for the walking challenged, the hotel said they would drop me off and pick me up. Taxis are also available for about 5 euro each way.

The hotel has a beautiful pool area, an outdoor tavern, lush plantings and generous breakfast buffet that is served in a lovely breakfast room. My room was huge and had a balcony. It was a very relaxing place to stay and it is nice not to have to worry about going back down the hill to dinner. Both of the dinners I had were excellent and the view over the valley was beautiful.

I spent 3 evenings in Athens and didn't have time to revisit some of the museums I like. I did the food walking tour by Athens Walking Tours. We went to about 9 businesses and tasted lots of food. This was my second time on the tour and I thought doing it again was worth it because they went to some different places. The people on my tour were invited to a free wine tasting in the evening because we were part of a market research project and so we all met up at a wine bar. They had six wines and snacks. No little samples - full glasses of wine. Luckily they served cheese, bread and olives! This was a fun evening and we got to further socialize since we had spent about four hours together on the morning tour. I bought a few food items but since I live in Astoria in Queens, many things are available in the specialty markets so I only buy special items now to lighten my suitcase.

I stayed at the Phillippos Hotel near the New Acropolis Museum. I love the hotel and it is my favorite area in Athens to stay since I've also stayed in four other neighborhood hotels. I walked over the Diakou near Sygrou Fixe metro, a couple of blocks below the Divani Acropolis Hotel. There are a few new restaurants and bars there and my favorite bakery, Kosima.

I was in Athens for Easter 2013 and it looked better than I expected. There was some graffiti but I lived in NYC in the 70's and its not much worse. I always enjoy my trips to Athens and Greece. The people are friendly, the wine and food are good and you can't beat the ancient sites.

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