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06 July 2008

What to do in Athens when it's hot

... and it get's really hot here
Metal Ventilator Blades

It gets hot in Athens. The sky is blue, the water is wet, the Pope is catholic, you can't really doubt it. With many Athens summers under my belt, I've assembled a few tips. They go from the interesting to the banal, obvious and boring. Let's see what you can and should do when it's hot in Athens.

Stuff that goes without saying:

Drink a lot of water, carry water at all times with you. You can buy 1/2 liter bottles of water at regulated prices at kiosks if you run out of what you have with you. Regulated prices means 50cents per bottle.

Continuing with the obvious stuff (maybe I can bore you away): If you really have a medical problem with the heat, stay away or stay in a place with a/c - listen to your body, when you collapse it's too late to react. In general even if you're tough and healthy, take it slowly, avoid too much movement, stop to rest in the shade. The heat won't kill you, but it will try. Don't walk in the sun, see how the locals try to always walk in the shade. Wear a hat.

OK, that did it for the obvious category, you can find that kind of tips everywhere. Let's go for something more interesting. Except avoiding bad stuff, is there anything you can actually do?

In the morning:

Hey, you might be a tourist here, so if you want to see some of the antiquities, plan on waking up very early and get there while it's still cool (especially important for the Acropolis). If mornings won't do, plan on getting there late in the afternoon, but that won't work in the real heat (above 40ºC / 104ºF I'd say) and some archaeological places close early. Morning is the time. It's nice and cool in the morning, so it's the time to walk around and see things.

At noon:

Eat something light only, leave the big feast for the evening. The single biggest trick: Like the locals stay inside in the hottest hours of the day, take a siesta nap.

If noon caught you unprepared in the center of Athens, try the shade of the big trees in the national garden (near Syntagma square / Amalias street). Besides being a real nice place, it's also cooler (due to the trees), and quieter.

Cafeterias are expensive in Greece (not only in tourist places), but they usually have a/c. In a real Greek cafeteria, you can sit with one coffee for as long as you like - no need to throw it down in 5 Minutes like in Italy or even to rush it in 1/2 hour like in Switzerland. Try the greek coffee "frappe", which is cold and explicitly made to last for a long time. When ordering frappe, you have to tell the waiter how much sugar you want (glyko / metrio / sketo - sweet / medium / without) and if you want it with or without milk (me gala / horis gala - with mild / without milk).

In the evening:

Evening is good too, temperatures start to go down slowly. There are some nice things you can do.

Walk around the Acropolis, from Thision to Monastiraki (or vice versa). It's almost completely pedestrian territory (if you go all around there is a small part where you go through small streets that have cars). Also very nice and in the same area: Take a stroll up Filopappou, the green hill next to the Acropolis, you can sit there in the evening when the sun goes down and the lights on the Acropolis get turned on.

Total alternative: Take the bus to Falliron, walk to Kalamaki (or vice versa), stop for a swim even. There are a lot of people at the beaches there, but in the evening it's acceptable and the sun won't burn you so much any more. Did I mention that it's not a good idea to be at noon on the beach, no matter if you're in Athens or somewhere else?

There are lots of open air concerts, open air cinemas, open air bars, open air restaurants... They're all cool in the evening.

In general:

If it really gets too hot, leave the city, there are nice excursions even for one or two days: Aigina, Hydra, (... we have lots more islands), Delfi (but take care, it's hot between the ruins too), or even go up to some mountainous area like to Karpenisi (nice area, ugly town).

For a short swimming trip, go to direction of Glyfada, Voula, Sounion, (I already mentioned Falliron, in the same direction) or on the "other side" of Attika to Porto Rafti (and the coast around there).

Sleeping at night:

If you're a tourist, your hotel room likely has a/c. I don't really like the stuff and don't have any in my home, but when it got really, really hot last year, I would have even turned it on. If you don't have a/c and it's really hot, the trick is not to go to sleep before you're so tired that you will fall over in mid-sentence. If you lay down before you're absolutely going to drop to sleep in 5 seconds, you will just roll around in your sweat. That means if you don't work and can party all night long, clearly you win. Partying all night long also makes it easier to talk all the time (which you have to do in order to notice when you fall over asleep in mid-sentence). Besides that, a ventilator helps, but keep in mind that they believe in South Korea that sleeping in a closed room with an electric ventilator can kill you. Make your choices!

Spot the sleeping pattern here: Sleep few hours from late, late at night till early in the morning, then sleep some more in the afternoon siesta.

Posted by betabug at 13:56 | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (0)
ch athens
Life in Athens (Greece) for a foreigner from the other side of the mountains. And with an interest in digital life and the feeling of change in a big city. Multilingual English - German - Greek.
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Re: What to do in Athens when it's hot

Carry around a frozen bottle of water, drink and top up as it melts. Use it to cool wrists and other pulse points. Running cool water over wrists can help cool you down almost immediately.

Posted by: Stavros at July 07,2008 16:23
Re: What to do in Athens when it's hot

Skip work and go seaside. Buy a kiddie pool, fill it up, sit and sip margaritas. Put an ice pack on the back of your neck (same vein as Stavros' suggestion). Get out of Athens?

Posted by: Kat at July 14,2008 12:50
Re: What to do in Athens when it's hot

Kat, that's the spirit!

Posted by: betabug at July 14,2008 13:26
Re: What to do in Athens when it's hot

And I forgot, sleep on the plakakia at night ;)

Posted by: Kat at July 25,2008 20:45
Re: What to do in Athens when it's hot

Go to the beach, and sleep the "siesta"!

Posted by: eurodipity at July 28,2008 13:06
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