Saturday, July 19, 2008

The land of the Gods

Whoever knows me well, knows about my continuous ranting concerning Greece; how I want to go to delphi and stand in front of the Sanctuary of Apollo, where there(once in time) was etched the words "Know thy self".
Well, in a day of utter despair, I decided that I should make things happen, especially those jotted on my list, so I made a decision and stuck to it. And so in one glorious summer day (after getting the visa, booking flights and hotels), I became an Egyptian tourist in Greece.

Well, my first impression of Greece was why isn't the country a little bit more glamorous? I mean I am in the EU, aren't I?
Greece is one of those countries which wildly benefited from the EU, because it made its economy boom and practically forced it into becoming a little bit more methodological. For instance, they are still finalizing their metro lines and they don't have a lot of express trains (as supposed to France, for instance), also they have a transportation system that drives British people crazy, because it never really comes on time or arrives on time.
Actually, I understand why greeks used to live in Egypt, both nations have the same mentality, the fahlawa factor. Although the difference is that they use this factor along with somewhat strict rules, so it produces a really unique system that works for them. But, let's talk about what I did, shall we?

My sister was the proud companion of such trip and since it was MY trip, I got to call the shots, hehe. The flight from Cairo (Egypt air, of course) was really nice and the pilot did a very smooth landing (hats off to him, as there was a lot of air pockets courtesy of Greek mountains).
Do as the Greeks do:

When I am in a new country, I like to really live the experience, so when we arrived I wanted to take the metro to the hotel, while my sister would have preferred a Taxi, because it's easier. She was a doll about it and we got to go by metro (it's an overground one), which was really exciting for me. The airport is the last stop of the green line (our hotel was on the red line), so we had to make a switch in a stop called Syntagma, where the blue, green and red lines meet.





(view from the metro)









Ok, let's talk hotels. I would like to point out that there is a neighborhood called Omonia in Athens, which you should stay clear of, especially if you're a girl/ girls traveling alone. I am a feminist to the bone and I know that a girl can hold her own in whatever place, but this neighborhood is known for prostitution and theft. This is in addition to the hundreds of immigrants crowding the streets and getting drunk at night. Unfortunately,our hotel resided in Omonia and that's why we only spent 2 nights in Athens. If you want to stay at a nice place in Athens choose a hotel near the Acropolis, Plaka or Syntagma.

We arrived at 2 and by the time we reached the hotel and put away our stuff, it was 4 pm, so we went to the Acropolis, probably the most famous archaeological site in Athens and by the end of 2008, the new Acropolis museum is going to open its doors, housing more than 4,000 exhibits.
There are several monuments included in the Acropolis's ticket; the acropolis itself, the temple of Zeus, the theater of Herodes Atticus, the old temple of Athena and Theater of Dionysus .All of the monuments lie within the vicinity of the Acropolis, so I would advise you to go early with a map of the acropolis and try to use the different entrances for your benefit.






(view from below)







The country is blessed with its God-given hills and mountains, which their ancestors used to get closer to the Gods. It makes perfect sense really, because we always think that God is in the heavens, so when you build a temple on top of a mountain you get closer to the heavens. Anyhow, I wouldn't recommend Greece to those who fear heights.






(theater of Herodes Atticus)








The hike to the Acropolis takes about 10 minutes and it's not really that hard, but do wear sneakers that aren't very slippery because the marble used in the temples and entrances is quite treacherous.

I will write more about the Acropolis and Greece, but right now I have to go to work.

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