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We saw Athens 40 years ago. Should we skip it this time around?

We saw Athens 40 years ago. Should we skip it this time around?

Old Mar 29th, 2009, 03:23 PM
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We saw Athens 40 years ago. Should we skip it this time around?

Hi--

We are debating. We both visited Athens (gulp) nearly forty years ago when we were right out of college, and at that time we could climb up to all the major ruins on the Acropolis and lean against the columns etc. As I understand, now all of those options are gone and tourists must just look from a ways away. Frankly, I don't remember much else about Athens other than I loved the food--both at small restuaurants and the street corner souvaklia stands. I also remember it as being not a super attractive city.

We have 15 days in Greece at the end of May and are debating how to spend our time. Should we skip Athens other than using it as our airport entry spot or spend some time there again? We are not particularly fans of big cities other than those where we can wander around up and soak up the ambience. We loved Istanbul when we were there several years ago, but it is my understanding that, in contrast, Athens is primarily just another big, noisy city without much charm. Rome last year was very interesting, but my understanding once again is that Athens is a different kind of place even though they both have their ruins in the middle of the modern city. What do you think? Thanks.
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Old Mar 29th, 2009, 03:35 PM
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Athens has grown in size and population density. If you don't like big cities you certainly wont' like what you will find 40 years after. You might want to spend at least one day there so you can visit the National Archaeological Museum as well as the New Acropolis Museum if that interests you.

Otherwise just arrange your arrival so that you can fly or ferry right out to your first chosen destination.
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Old Mar 29th, 2009, 05:54 PM
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I saw Athens for the first time in l952. I was there most recently in 2006. The degradation of what was once a charming although slightly seedy place was dreadful. More money, more modern, more noise, more pollution, more of everything we associate with big-city life today. Just plain awful.
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Old Mar 29th, 2009, 06:05 PM
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Athens became a completely different city after the 2004 Olympic Games. It is much more cosmopolitan now. Lots of world-class hotels, museums, shopping, and dining.

I love Athens. The people are wonderful.

Thin
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Old Mar 29th, 2009, 06:07 PM
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I agree with brotherlee that it is much more time-efficient to fly or ferry directly to your first island destination. And since you must fly out again from the Athens area, it is prudent to be there at least for one night before your flight ... that is safest.

That being said, I think you will find SO much that is worthwhile in Athens, at least to spend 2 days there; the weather is delightful in late May -early June. Yes, you need not go bak to the Acropolis, since you were lucky enough be able to wander through the columns of the Parthenon back then... (altho that practice did hasten its deterioration).

However, the walkway below the acropolis has been pedestrianized (Dionysus Aeropagus), and is thrilling to walk on at sunset and look up at the Parthenon. You might consider going to a performance right off that walkway in Herodius Atticus ancient outdoor theatre... or to the Dora Stratou DANCE theatre nearby for authentic GReek Dance troupes.

Since the time you were in Athens 40 years ago, stunning NEW museums have opened if museums interest you ... Benaki, in a gorgeous Mansion, Goulandris Cycldic museum. If you are musical, the FREE Museum of GReek Folk Instruments is in another mansion, around the corner from the Roman Agora. Is one of you fond of fine Jewelry? Right off that walkway above is the Ilias LouLanis Jewelry Museum (he was the Louis Tiffany of Greece) has designs based on 5 great civilizations--- 3,000 exquisite pieces.

Are you a lawyer? A speaker? In Politics? Climb up Fillapapou Hill to the Pnx, and yo can stand at the ACTUAL SITE where Pericles and Themistocles addressed the assembly. Thrill thrill, at least for me. That vantage point is also a great view of Acropolis.

All these attractions are in the Plaka district and nearby, largely a no-car zone with low-rise buildings... you are away from traffic and do not feel surrounded by skyscrapers. The streets are flagstoned, the inviting cafes are everywhere... there is an entire restaurant square with a tree-filled center. And after you have been immersed in Greek life for 12 days (unless you are strictly in a luxury beach resort) perhaps the Greek legacy will resonate more for you, at the end of your trip. Istanbul is a monument to Eastern Civ -- but remember some of its most memorable landmarks were created by Greeks. And Athens was the cradle of Western civ.

Actually, "not super attractive" is not always an accurate rating of a locality. Disneyland is "super attractive" with all those squeaky clean reproductions of actual places. But is it great? I urge you to give Athens a 2nd chance at least for 2 days ... After all, you are not the same people you were 40 years ago, I hope. Neither is Athens.
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Old Mar 29th, 2009, 06:18 PM
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Julies, you are in luck! Fodorite Stanbr on an adjoining thread has just posted his brand-new slide show -- a composite of all his Athens visits. Besides the ancient ruins, it conveys so well the charm of Plaka Streets and cafes... it may convince you that this area (where most visitors stay, and which has most of the landmarks), is more charming than ever.

http://community.webshots.com/slides...ediaPosition=6
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Old Mar 29th, 2009, 06:18 PM
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Jan,

I was in Athens last May after an absence of 36 years and was going to reply to the OP but you have hit the nail right on the head!

I just hope it's not another 36 before my next visit!

Rob
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Old Mar 29th, 2009, 06:40 PM
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I enjoyed Athens much more than I expected, but admittedly I was there early in 2006, and over Easter, when the city was fairly empty and not too hot. Agree with jan about the wonderful museums - I would add the Jewish and folk museums to the list. Plan to head out to Cape Sunio for sunset at the Temple of Poseidon. My Greece pix including Athens are at http://kwilhelm.smugmug.com/Travel/264391
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Old Mar 29th, 2009, 08:58 PM
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Much contemplation needed now on our part. There are some totally opposite perspectives from different posters here. I do know for sure that we'll be spending at least one night in Athens before our 11:00am flight out. Now the question is how many nights to add on, if any. I truly appreciate all the assistance. Photos are always such a great help too when making a decision! Thanks again.
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Old Mar 29th, 2009, 09:22 PM
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If you want an affordable hotel out near the airport check out Peri's Hotel. They offer a free shuttle to and from the airport between 7am and 11pm.

http://www.perishotelapt.gr
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Old Mar 30th, 2009, 05:05 AM
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Thanks for the airport hotel tip. It looks nice, and affordable prices appeal to me since so many airport hotels tend to be super expensive.
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Old Mar 30th, 2009, 08:17 AM
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Athens is definitely worth a few days, for all the reasons Jan and others have mentioned plus some. We spent 6 days in Athens last fall - thoroughly enjoyed it (the food, the people, the neighborhoods, museums, history, et) and didn't get to do everything we wanted to.
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Old Mar 30th, 2009, 09:42 AM
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Athens has many lovely things to see, but when we were there last year they didn't like Americans very well and weren't shy about saying so; perhaps with the economic climate now facing everyone they will be happier to see tourists, even American ones. As an example, my brother was taking a picture of one of the buildings and a man stepped in front of him and stood there; they had to outwait one another. Finally he stepped aside. Nothing was said, but it was too blatant to be accidental. However, even with that I wouldn't have missed it. Be sure to visit the poet sandal maker, step respectfully into the back of a church during their singing service (it's lovely), and spend a day walking the acropolis.
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Old Mar 30th, 2009, 10:06 AM
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I am starting to think it may move into our itinerary for a couple days (two or three full days and three nights). I too love to visit church services for their music. The mention of the sandal maker just brought back to me the memory of the leather sandals and the woven bags I bought so many years ago in Athens. I wonder whatever happened to those bags; I'm sure they sell the same thing today. Thanks again.
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Old Mar 30th, 2009, 10:18 AM
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Marilyn, that's bollocks.

One nutter is rude to you and you condemn an entire city of millions of people. Daft!

Talk to people throughout Greece and you will find that many have dual citizenship with the US.

I met waiters in the Plaka who told me they work the summer in Athens then go to Florida to work the winter months.

I met a young girl in a sandwich shop near a Syntagma Square who was working for her uncle for the summer. She was from Detroit.

Wise up, madame.

Thingorjus
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Old Mar 30th, 2009, 12:23 PM
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I was in Athens in May of 2008 and the people could not have been more wonderful and friendly. I enjoyed the city a lot more than I expected and thought visiting the Acropolis was breathtaking.

The people were so warm and charming. Mostly they said they love Americans and wanted to chat about how they visited their cousin in Marietta, GA or their brother in Long Island (or wherever) and how much they like the USA. (GW Bush, otoh, didn't have a lot of fans, but it was campaign season and that was also a big topic of conversation - did we think Obama could win? etc.)
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