Afternoon in Athens
Monday evening my friend Reuven visited me with his son Oren for a very short visit. They came by boat from Naxos and had to be at the airport at midnight. Oren had never been to Athens, so besides scheduling time for catching up talking, we made a little sightseeing program. So find out what we got together...
Since I was still working in the afternoon, I told Reuven to get to the Metro station in Pireus (which is in itself worth a sightseeing, it is a historical building). Greeks refer to that particular line as "treno" not "metro", but for us foreigners it's all the same. From there they could ride to "Thissio". Outside Thissio they found a large area closed to traffic, with lots of cafes. The road leads upwards to the Acropolis, it has green areas on both sides, and a view over Athens.
Reuven took Oren to the Parthenon, because yes, you have to see that, if you haven't already. They spent some time up there, when it probably was still hot. Then they sat in the shade under an olive tree. That's where I found them, arriving from work. Big welcome, I had last met Reuven in Summer 2002 and never met Oren before.
Passing through the ancient Agora, we went to a Cafe on the road (closed from traffic again) between the stations of Monastiraki and Thission. Choice of cafe is open, there are a lot of nice ones. If you come to visit here, remember that prices in greek cafes are very high. They might be even a bit higher in such a touristy area, but it's not like they cheat you when they want 4 Euro for a fresh orange juice. Or actually they might be cheating, but not just you, they cheat everyone.
From the cafe we walked by Monastiraki towards Syntagma. We followed some of the small streets in the general direction and ended up on Ermou street. Ermou is the shopping street de jour in Athens. It ends at Syntagma square and when you walk up there, you walk up to a view of the greek parliament. Late in the afternoon it was nicely colored up by the sun. We crossed Syntagma square without being run down by one of the amateur race car drivers going by. We went to see the Evzone guards at the grave of the unkown solider, Oren had his picture taken with one of the guards. While we were still standing there, they did their marching procedure.
It was almost time to eat now, but Syntagma is not the best area for good restaurants. So I went on a smal march with my friends (I hope I tired them not too much). We went down Panepistimiou street, passed by the University and went into Exarchia. Exarchia is not really a tourist area. Rather it is notorious for being an anarchist area (and on some places an area with drug addicts). My friend Michalis told me, that a couple of years ago he had an insurance on his car that stated "not valid when car is parked in Exarchia". Certified Anarchy, I guess.
What I was looking for was a restaurant with cooked food that I remembered. We found it after some searching and asking in a beautyfull cafe. We had a relaxed dinner. The souzoukakia smirneika were spicey and refined. Very good. I never remember the name, but the place is in a neoclassical building, big open doors all around on two sides of the corner building. The street is called Emmilianou Benaki, so if you can find it, cosider this a recommendation :-). After dinner I accompanied my friends to the Panepistimiou Metro station. We took the train to Syntagma, where they catched the train to the Airport (where the last train to the Airport leaves at about 22:50, look for the schedule that hangs out at the ticket offices in the stations).
Conclusion: In just a few hours in Athens, you can see the Parthenon, walk through the ancient Agora, relax in a Cafe, see the presidential guard (Evzones) at Syntagma square, the University, and enjoy a special meal in an anarchist area. The last one is probably harder if you don't know the city. We had a lot of walking involved, but overall it was a really good time.